Is social media really that harmful? by Soffia and Prishika

In recent years, the usage of social media has grown to be increasingly popular. With children as young as 12 connected to any type of media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it's worrying how obsessed people are with their apps. Some would even class it as an addiction, but is it really that damaging?

With over 70% of teens having access to all areas of the Internet, they are exposed to all kinds of harm or danger, for example, cyber bullying*. Ever since the rise of social media consumption, there has been an 87% increase in Childline counselling sessions about cyber bullying and low self-esteem*.

In addition to cyber bullying, there has also been a lack in physical interaction between friends and family. More and more people are spending time glued to their phones and using social media as a distraction from the outside world. Since social media is incredibly effective, students have begun to neglect their work. A shocking 63% of high school students procrastinate homework by using social media, which causes a negative effect on their grades*.

However, social media isn't all negative. Sites such as Skype, Instagram and Facebook improve world-wide connectivity between friends and family. It can also give users the opportunity to make new friends and build support systems. One out of ten people have either met their best friend online or will meet up with friends they've made*.

Furthermore, social media spreads key information, pictures and news rapidly with more people than ever before. This also means teens are inadequately educated in online safety and how to prevent harm, for example utilising privacy settings and making your social media accounts private.

Overall, there are some issues with social media such as safety and addiction but there are also many positives like bringing people together and distributing information.

Here are some quotes from social media users:

Nicola, age 12 says...

 "I think that social media is a great way to connect with people, friends from the past, family or people you've never met before. Either way you make a lot friends through social media since so many people can access it. However, it has drastically changed the way we view things. We see what people want us to see, so in a way it's deceiving, for example having 'the perfect body' which conditions young people into thinking that they aren't good enough. However, with control, social media is one of the best technological advancements in recent history."

M, age 14 says...

"I think social media is a way to distract yourself and is kind of addictive. It can be good for making new friends and getting away from the outside world but it can be dangerous. My generation grew up on Internet safety as much as we did on 'stranger danger' and I'm sure younger generations will grow up with more extensive Internet safety to prevent unfortunate circumstances.

El, age 16 says...

"I think social media is the face of our generation. It controls us even from a young age - it's everywhere and can be classed as an addiction. Social media was made to bring people closer but in some cases it's literally doing the opposite, we're ignoring the world at our feet. It's sounds strange but social media keeps us up till 2am and it's the first thing people wake up to. People don't talk properly to each other. We are seemingly controlled by some app instead of living life and looking at the sky. It's like we're zombies attached to our phones. I'm not saying it's all bad though because it does help me keep in touch with friends abroad but people are using it too much."

These are quotes from adult users:

S, aged 40 says..

"I love it! I can catch up on my WhatsApp messages and Facebook notifications after the kids are asleep.  There is always someone online to talk to - day or night. You can make new friends, it's great! But I'm addicted to it and I feel like my life is boring without it."

M, aged 48 says..

I love it! I have Facebook and Instagram! It's a good way to communicate with friends and family around the world. I don't agree on school children having it as they should be engaging with each other. They are too obsessed with their phones and should be concentrating on their studies."

J, aged 33 says..

"I use it to catch up to catch up with my friends because I'm always too busy to see them in person, however I don't like the fact my teenage daughter is always on it, I try to restrict her from it."


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*  *the guardian