As social media continues to grow in popularity, it has become the communication hub for many people. Diverse individuals use social media to exchange information, engage in discussion and post pictures and updates. Although it has become the center source for networking, it can also cause adverse effects on many people, especially young adolescents. Spending too much time on social media can be unhealthy for youth because of the negative images and messages on social networking sites. Thus, youth are exposed to cyberbullying and other negative behavior that may cause adverse effects on their behavior. Ultimately, social media negatively affects young adolescents’ social behavior causing low self-esteem and low academic performance.
Furthermore, social media can be extremely time-consuming because young adolescents spend long hours surfing the internet on social media sites, looking at pictures, responding to comments and updating statuses. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are popular social media outlets used frequently by young adolescents. Through social networking sites, they are able to meet new people, engage in online conversation and share pictures. According to Greenberg, almost every American uses social media, especially teens. The study found that 95% of teens ages 12 to 17 engage heavily in online activity (596). The statistical information shows that teens use social media extremely often, which can have a significant influence on their lives, especially their social behavior.
Also, the constant need to “fit in” with a particular social group is only enhanced on social media. This influence young people to take on fake personas to gain attention and “likes” on Facebook and Instagram. Their constant need to attain exposure leaves them open to backlash and harsh criticism, which leads to cyberbullying. Thus, negative content and messages on social media can have adverse effects on youth behavior. Online stalking, threats and cyberbullying have caused a lot of psychological and emotional issues among young adolescents. Through violent messages and images, many adolescents have been victimized by online bullies on social media. Davison & Stein found that nearly 75% of young students experienced cyberbullying aggression at least once in the last year (596). Due to the open, free forum on social media, it makes it easy for young people to engage in unhealthy social behavior through constant threats, violent images.
Moreover, cyberbullying through social media can lead to low self-esteem, lack of confidence and suicidal thoughts among youth. It can have negative effects on academic performance as well. Davison & Stein also found that “cyberbullying exposure (as both a bully and a victim) was significantly associated with low levels of self-reported school satisfaction and achievement. Children who are already not doing well academically may begin to target their peers as a coping mechanism” (599). Thus, social media can negatively affect school performance, which leads to low grades. Also, victims of cyberbullying may be afraid to attend school because of the possibility of continual threats and violence inside school. Thus, the fear of attending school due to cyberbullying can lead to high dropout rates among young adolescents.
Thus, the freedom that is provided to online users allows them to bully anyone without any fear of penalization or consequences. Social media is not as closely monitored or observed by school educators and authorities, which makes it easy for children to exhibit bad behavior. The lack of regulation on social media only increases the chances that young adolescents have to become victims of cyberbullying, and it heightens the opportunities for bullies to target innocent youth. According to Hazel:
Before cyberbullying, schools had weapons to combat this disruptive behavior: The eyes and ears of teachers and administrators. The bullying, seen or heard by school staff during school hours, clearly was a punishable offense. But now, the abuse can take place after school hours and away from the sight of school officials (9).
Thus, easy accessibility to negative content and images provides students with a free forum to engage in harmful social behavior. Teachers are unable to prevent bullying outside of school, which leads to even more unhealthy social behavior among teens. Victims of bullying are not only tormented inside school, but they also face constant threats and bullying online through social media sites. This can be emotionally damaging for many young adolescents as they deal with depression and low self-esteem due to online bullying. Thus, the lack of protection that they are provided on social media sites makes them even more vulnerable to threats and other harmful social behavior.
Essentially, social media provides a platform for people to interact virtually and exchange information. It is extremely popular among teens, who make up the majority of online users. But the negative content and messages on social media can have an adverse effect on youth social behavior. It can cause students to become depressed due to cyberbullying and violent images and messages that are perpetuated on social networking sites. Thus, cyberbullying leads to low self-esteem, which ultimately causes failing academic performance among young adolescents. Thus, social media causes unhealthy social behavior that leads to harmful effects among youth.