Effects of Social Media

Overuse of online social media can increase social isolation as well as depression when it replaces more tangible forms of human contact.

Opposing Point: . Social media sites allow teens to accomplish online, many of the tasks that are important to them offline: staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing pictures, and exchanging ideas (O’Keefe G. S. 2011, Impact of Social Media).

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Rebuttal : “One of the ironies of Social networks,” writes Don Tapscott (2008) in his book Grown Up Digital , “is that while it makes staying in touch easier when family embers are physically apart, it can also keep them apart when they’re at home. ”

In recent years, the internet has sparked a revolution that has had a profound effect on youths. In many lands the computer has become a lifeline of the adolescent social world. Social networking sites have opened up a whole new world of possibilities. A social network is a Website that allows users to share information with a selected group of friends. Hundreds of social networks exist, and the most popular one, Facebook, has some eight hundred million members. You can be relatively friendless in real life and then suddenly have hundreds of friends online” says an eighteen-year old youth from the United States (Benefits of Facebook, 2007).

Few would deny that social networks have numerous benefits. For many people, however, there are major concerns about the effects of social networking on adolescents. As with virtually any use of the internet, using social networks becomes a risk to adolescents more often than most realize. Social networks allow youths to share private information that can lead to exploitation and abuse.

Profile data, photos, status updates, and comments reveal information that many predators use to their advantage. The information divulged on social networks includes a person’s address, school, date of birth, phone number and other personal details. Once youths post the information online, it is in the public domain. Even if there are restrictions to profiles and photos, anything that is posted can be made more public than intended. Sites divulging such details are often magnets for unscrupulous adults, who use the sites as hunting grounds for their perverse intentions.

Sadly, many naive youths have unwittingly become ensnared by giving out personal information online that have resulted in harmful consequences. According to one study in the United States, “one-in-five kids who use the Internet have been solicited for sex. ” It also stated that one child in thirty-three, between ages ten and seventeen, were “aggressively stalked” through computer conversations. These stats alone are a cause for concern to the use of social networks. A further risk involved in using social networks is that of cyberbullying.

There are many reports of youths affected by cyberbullying – the relentless online teasing, ostracizing, harassing, or threatening. Granted, bullying is not new. But now rumors, gossip, and slander can travel much farther and infinitely faster. It often gets far nastier too. In some cases, cell phones with a built-in camera have been used to take rude and potentially embarrassing photographs and videos, perhaps in a school locker room or shower. These images have then been placed on the social networks and visible to any number of eager spectators.

Research done by the Cyberbullying Research Centre argues that cyberbullying “can be more detrimental to youth because” of the easy accessibility of social networks, the helplessness of the victims and anonymity of the bullies (Hinduja & Patchin, 2009). Further highlighted by the research is the “strain, frustration, depression, and anxiety” experienced by the victims. Doubtless, this issue of cyberbullying is not the only risk adolescents are exposed to on social networks. On social networks, there is no regulation of material; consequently, youths are at risk of exposure to explicit material.

Social networks allow youths to freely share images, videos and any type of information with each other. It also allows pedophiles, scam artists, bigots, and other unsavory characters to post vile and lurid material for the viewing of curious teens. One may recall an incident of a secondary school teacher sending nude photos of him groping his private parts to a school girl through Facebook. This is an issue even among teens themselves. A recent survey revealed that 20% of teens have sent or posted nude or seminude photographs or videos of themselves (Impact of Social Media on Children, 2011).

Such material can corrupt adolescents thinking and behaviour. Moreover, this practice, adolescents circulating pictures of themselves, highlights another risk. Many youths are oblivious to the fact that social media carve out a reputation that can be difficult to erase. It seems that when youths go on a social network, they lose their sense of reason. Youths post pictures or videos of themselves appearing to be drunk, posing in ways that accentuate their bodies, even nude at times, or involved outrageous activities. They also post comments on what would not normally be mentioned, not realizing hat one distasteful post can lead to ruined reputation.

Damaging a reputation on social networks can have long-range consequences to adolescents. Grown Up Digital states: “Stories are legion of social network site users losing their jobs or being turned down for new jobs because of what they posted online. ” The matter of a youth’s reputation can be taken for granted, but can have serious repercussions for them. Furthermore, social media can become addictive, consuming excessive amounts of time and distracting youths from more vital activities.

Adolescents are spending a great deal of time on social networks creating, reading and responding to information posted on social networks. The amount of time spent reaches to the point of obsession. Why is this of concern? In her book Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens, Nancy E. Willard points out that overuse of social networking may be linked to anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem. “Many teens are highly concerned about their social status,” she writes. ”If teens measure their social worth based on the level of electronic communication activity with friends, this can fuel addiction.

A further interesting finding of her research was that teens tended to be unaware of just how much time they really spent on social networks, and the effect this might have on their academic performance also. The amount of time spent on social networks raises yet another concern with adolescents. Overuse of online social media can increase social isolation, as well as depression, when it replaces more tangible forms of human contact. In their book, Loneliness—Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, researchers John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick thoroughly address the subject of loneliness.

They refer to a study that confirms that increased Internet use can increase social isolation as well as depression when it replaces more tangible forms of human contact. The research shows that the hectic pace of life imposed by modern society is hardly “conducive to warm human contact”. A smile and the affection that can be seen in a person’s eyes cannot generally be conveyed through a message on a computer screen. Adolescent children can have their own computer and live virtually isolated from the rest of the family. Ironically, in spite of their electronic communication accessibility, many youngsters do feel lonely.

Acceptance by and contact with peers is an important element of adolescent life, but that is not guaranteed through social networking. In opposition to the aforementioned risks, many people advocate the use of social networks by adolescents. A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet. Social media sites allow teens to accomplish online, many of the tasks that are important to them offline: staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing pictures, and exchanging ideas (O’Keefe G. S. 2011, Impact of Social Media).

One of the ironies of Social networks,” writes Don Tapscott, however (2008) in his book Grown Up Digital , “is that while it makes staying in touch easier when family members are physically apart, it can also keep them apart when they’re at home. ” The benefits of using social networks can get lost simply through its use by adolescents and the over indulgence in it. Nevertheless, millions of youths continue to use social networking sites, and for some it has become the preferred method of communication. The advantages of social networking for adolescents are well taken: convenient and quick avenue to stay connected and share experiences.

The fact is though, social networking, like any of the internet, has its dangers that deserve serious consideration as regards its use by adolescents. In some ways, using social networks can be compared to driving a car. Not all who have a license are responsible drivers. In fact, many people have got into horrific accidents because of their carelessness or neglect, lacking the responsibility required to safely operate such technology. It is similar with adolescents who use social networks. The advantages exist but the risks are ever present also.

Any adolescent is allowed to have a social networking account, but can they be trusted to use it responsibly? The answer ultimately lies with each adolescent and their parents; however, it would surely be unwise to neglect the danger social networking poses.


  1. Cacioppo, John; Patrick, William (2008). Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, New York : W. W. Norton &
  2. Co Ellison, N. B. , Steinfield, C. , & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook: Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), article 1. Rerieved from http://jcmc. indiana. edu/vol12/issue4/ellison. html
  3. Nancy, W. (2010). Helping Young People Learn to Use the Internet Safely and Responsibly . Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens .
  4. San Francisco, Jossey Bass A Wiley Imprint O’Keefe, G. S. (2011). The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics .
  5. Patchin, J. W. & Hinduja, S. (2012). Traditional and Nontraditional bullying among youth: A test of Genereal Strain Theory. Youth &
  6. Society. Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown Up Digital : How the Net Generation is Chaging Your World. McGraw Hill.

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Effects of Social Media. (2017, Feb 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/effects-of-social-media/