May 2, 2017
The Youth and Social Media
The internet greatly affects the lives of teenagers in our country today. The internet has positive effects to our society, like easy access to information, it allows you to connect with friends no matter where you are located, and it allows you to shop online to make purchases on whatever they have in stores. But the internet also has many negative effects on teenagers. It is an addiction to them. It can become a distraction because it takes away their focus on what is more important. It is hard to get any work done when you are constantly looking in your phone. Advancement in technology is the reason for the rise of teenagers using the internet.
Many teenagers cannot go a day without their smartphones. Technology has a tight grip on the minds of teenagers and adults. Amy Joyce states, “Digital devices have transformed people’s lives. They are changing everything from parent-child relationships, to human interaction, to our ability to focus on the task at hand,” said James Steyer, founder and chief executive of Common Sense, an organization that studies and rates media and technology for kids and families. “And particularly for young people who are growing up as digital natives. It has public health concerns.”
Not everything about the internet is bad because we need it in this fast growing world. The problem is that it becomes such a big distraction to not only to our youth but to the adults as well. Instead of us being users of the internet, we let the internet control of our lives.
The young people are influenced by what they see on social media. They go on social media to observe the lives of celebrities, thinking of ways to duplicate them so they can be famous and praised by a lot of people. Ideas and thoughts start to fill their minds with things like “I have to buy this to be beautiful” “I wonder what my friends at school will think if I wore this” or “I’ll get all the girls if I did this”. Jayson states, “Kids who claim they want to be famous use more media. Yalda Uhls presented a survey to children from the ages 9-15. Of the 334 children surveyed online, almost half say they use social networks. Of those under 13, 23% use a social media site; 26% of the younger group say they have a YouTube account.”
There are some teens who use the social media as a tool to harass others online. This is called cyber bullying. Many teens use social media to publicly humiliate someone or to torture them mentally, which can really destroy a person’s life. They do this spreading rumors around campus, send mean and evil messages on social media websites, talk about an embarrassing moment, or post videos of the victims being humiliated. This can really damage a person and their reputation for a long time. It can also cause a person to commit suicide. Suicide rates among 10 to 14-year-olds have grown more than 50 percent over the last three decades. (The American Association of Suicidology, AAS). Suicide rates among children between the ages of 10 & 14 are very low, but are “creeping up.” (Ann Haas, Director of the Suicide Prevention Project at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). Suicide rates among 10 to 14-year-olds have grown more than 50 percent over the last three decades. It becomes a scar that the person has to remember for the rest of their life.
According to Cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation, over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online. Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet. Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.
Another problem with the smart mobile devices is that many teenagers use social media to send nude and sexual pictures to their friends and even strangers, which is called sexting. Diaz says, “A study published in December by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that 22 percent of teen girls surveyed admit sending images of themselves, compared with 18 percent of teen boys.” This is dangerous because once you send a photo, it is no longer private and you will not be able to take it back. The person who receives the picture can do whatever they want with. Many teenagers, especially females, become depressed because they get ridiculed by people online. Some even commit suicide to escape the humiliation and harassment.
There is nothing wrong with teens using the internet but they should limit the amount of time they use it. The creators of their social media apps should have an age limit and ask the users for type of ID to give them approval to activate an account. The age limit should be 18 and older. Parents should give their children a certain amount of time to be on their phones when they are at home. Replace that time with family bonding. I believe the internet is what causes many of the problems teenagers have to face these days. If the youth can cut down some of the time they spend on the internet, they can avoid many problems and struggles in life.
Joyce, Amy. “Teens say they’re addicted to technology. Here’s how parents can help.” Washington Post, 3 May 2016
Jayson, Sharon. “Social media setting the stage for kids who want to be famous.” USA Today, 18 April 2016
Richard Webster, Harford County Examiner, “From cyber bullying to sexting: What on your kids’ cell?”
i-SAFE Inc., “Cyber Bullying: Statistics and Tips”
Cyberbullying Research Center, “Summary of our cyberbullying research from 2004-2010”
National Crime Prevention Council, “Cyberbullying”
Diaz, Missy. “Teens ‘Sexting is a Crime” Does the Internet Increase Crime?, edited by Stefan Kiesbye, Greenhaven Press, 2010
Ann Haas, Director of the Suicide Prevention Project at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention