Are younger generations suffering from the negative backlash of social media?

Alt: Graphic of student trapped inside of a cell phone as though in a prison cell while likes are falling all around them.
Alt: Graphic of student trapped inside of a cell phone as though in a prison cell while “likes” are falling all around them.
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Social media is a great place to find easy entertainment and get a quick laugh, but in recent years, there has been an epidemic of social media usage that has consumed society as a whole.

A group that has been majorly affected by this is the younger generations, such as Generation Z and Generation Alpha. This can be extremely harmful if not used in moderation, especially since younger audiences are easily influenced by everything they see online.

When kids and teens start to use social media, they are usually just looking for something to do in their spare time. What they don’t realize is that they are setting themselves up for a life of dependency on these platforms.

But why are the youth so drawn to these sites? It is because social media gives them a place where they can discover who they are, make friends, and keep up with what’s happening around them and in the world.

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And while that is great, there are things on social media that can have a negative impact on young people’s lives.

One of the reasons why social media can be so harmful is because of the unrealistic expectations and standards it sets for viewers. For example, Influencers post heavily edited videos and photos and portray it as natural to their fans. This can lead to people having the feeling that they need to be as perfect as the people they see on the screens and cause them to make unfair comparisons even though what they are comparing themselves to cannot be achieved naturally.

Not only is this done with normal everyday content, but it is also done with brand deals and sponsorships. This promotes a very misleading ideology that if you do the exact same process with the exact same products as somebody, you will have the same exact results as the person that is paid to influence you.

An example of this is when someone is sponsored to promote skincare products when they already have perfectly clear skin. This leads fans to think it was because of the products they are advertising for. Not only does this give fans false hope, but it also wastes their time and money.

A study from the Mayo Clinic states, “that a small 2013 study found that older adolescents who used social media passively, such as by just viewing others’ photos, reported declines in life satisfaction.”

In addition to seeing influencers living a “perfect life”, seeing peers indulge in fun activities can make a lot of people feel that they are isolated and missing out on important events. This can lead to various amounts of mental health disorders because people can feel that they aren’t as important as others since they aren’t invited to as many events.

When discussing the toll that social media can take on mental health, the Annie E. Casey Foundation states that “Numer­ous stud­ies show that high­er lev­els of social media use among chil­dren and ado­les­cents are linked to adverse effects, includ­ing depres­sion and anx­i­ety, inad­e­quate sleep (which can dis­rupt neu­ro­log­i­cal devel­op­ment and lead to depres­sion and sui­ci­dal behav­iors), low self-esteem, poor body image, eat­ing dis­or­der behav­iors and online harass­ment.”

Along with the possibility of feeling left out and isolated, kids and teens face the risk of having to deal with cyberbullying. When people are online, they feel like they can say whatever they want because they are behind a screen with a fake display name, and when younger people get hateful comments, it can really affect them because they are so young and impressionable. This can cause them to think that there is something wrong with them, which can lead to a decline in their mental health.

When CSHS senior Bryce Ayers was asked about the negative impact that social media can take on someone’s mental health, he said that “I think social media can negatively impact one’s mental health due to factors like cyber bullying, the constant need for follows or likes, pressuring yourself to be some type of ideal person, or even become famous itself.”

Social media not only affects people mentally, it also can affect them physically. When you are constantly using social media, it affects how you sleep. This is because when you are scrolling on platforms at night, the blue light from your device restricts the production of melatonin, and this disrupts how well you sleep.

When social media is used a lot, it can completely take over a person’s life. This can cause people to abandon healthy habits like getting exercise and eating a balanced diet.

When talking on how social media effects physical health Psychology today states “Social media use can negatively affect engagement with important health activities, like having a good diet, sleeping well, or exercising. Many mental health concerns connected to social media use (especially for young women) are related to a displacement of sleep or physical activities.”

All things considered; social media can have a negative impact on people’s lives, but this doesn’t mean you cannot use it. Be sure that you are using the apps in moderation, and you are aware of the risks you can face while on these platforms.

 

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