The Effects of Social Media on Kids

By Lauren Miller

Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter. For the average junior high student, these are probably all pretty familiar names. You may not think about it much, but social media is taking over our lives, and teaching us bad habits that could destroy us.

Social media websites are made to be appealing and fun to teenagers and young adults, but what we don’t realize is that they are also made to be addicting. I’m sure you all know at least one person who is so addicted to their phone that they will walk and stare at the same time, but what is this doing to our brains? What is this doing to our bodies? According to Professor Katina Michael, “Every time  we receive a notification or a ‘like’ on social media, an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, lights up to give us a sense of gratification that makes social media that much more addicting.” Not only is it affecting our brains, it is affecting our communication with others. In fact, the only time I really see face-to-face conversation is at school, where our social media is cut off. Even then, it is rare to see teens hold respectful conversations with adults when they can’t keep eye contact or speak without using slang. How is this going to affect us as we begin our job and college search. As most of you have probably heard more than once, everything you do on the internet and especially on social media, is there forever, it’s permanent.

There are far too many bad habits and bad things learned from people on social media. Think about it, when was the last time you watched a whole movie without picking up your phone to check a social media site? What do you do whenever you hear a ding or a buzz coming from your phone? You put down whatever you’re doing and rush to figure out what it was about, right? This is a nasty habit that we are learning from constantly being on social media websites. Some bad habits teens are learning from social media include, but are not limited to: stalking, over sharing, and lying. These can lead to sadness in teens, depression, and in extreme cases, death. Oversharing can get really annoying, really fast. I’m sure you can think of at least one person who will share or post something every two minutes, all day long. This is keeping us from ‘living in the moment’. Lying on social media goes a lot farther than just lying about your age, you could lie about your gender, where you live, your first or last name, or what school you go to. The list could go on and on. The point is that it is very dangerous and should be handled in the right way. Try to be more aware of the bad habits you are starting the next time you pick up your phone.

Cyberbullying is no doubt, an extremely serious topic, and it actually happens a lot more than you may think. Cyberbullying can target one individual or a group of people. That means the people posting mean and hurtful comments on our school’s social media, that’s cyberbullying! Victims of cyberbullying are often depressed, because of hurtful comments aimed towards them. Only one in ten of these victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse. This allows all of those feelings swell up inside, until the victim cannot take it anymore. Do you really want something like this to happen to your friends or family members? You can help make it stop by reporting any form of cyberbullying to a trusted adult, remember, you won’t be blamed for anything you report.

It’s clear that social media is taking over our lives in many ways more than we might think. It is hurting our brains, our bodies and the way we look at ourselves. Social media is addicting, which only makes it dangerous, and we need to try and veer away from it rather than allow it to suck us in. So wake up, unplug, and step back into the real world.

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