Social media entails online platforms where users can easily engage, create, and share content such as blogs, forums, wikis, social networks, and other virtual content. The most commonly used social platforms globally include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and YouTube (Ardi and Putri). These platforms invite anyone fascinated in contributing to their engagements and feedback and comment and share information rapidly without any limits. With the increasing rate of advancement in technology through fast internet access and smartphones, social media users can access their platforms be it Twitter or Facebook, at any place and moment. The use of social media results in a massive flow of information rapidly, making social media appear to replace conventional platforms of mass media in the delivery of news. Around the world, the use of social media is rapidly increasing due to developing internet infrastructures such as fiber networks and Wi-Fi access. For instance, in Indonesia, it’s estimated that approximately 98 million people have internet access where more than 95% of the activities they do with the internet is accessing social media platforms. One of the major contributors to the increased number of social media users is the affordability of mobile internet devices, which allow increased internet use (Ardi and Putri). Among the young generations, social media is a source of various information, including entertainment, news, hobbies, and information on the outside world. Nevertheless, social media has had an adverse impact on the young generations compared to television’s impacts on the teens of the early 2000s.
The increased use of social media platforms puts the young generations at risk of cyberbullying (Elsayed). Cyberbullying is one of the significant risks of using social media. It entails the issuance of threats and harassment on the internet via hostile or embarrassing interactions and dissemination of false information. Online platforms promote deceptive photographs, messaging, and posts that lead to conflicts between them. And as the youngsters are yet to mature, they become victims of cyberbullying from their peers, which adversely impacts their physical and mental health. Cyberbullying experiences lead to profound psychological and social consequences, including tragic suicide, social isolation, anxiety, and depressive symptoms (Elsayed). On the contrary, TV had no such adverse impacts on teens’ mental health. Various programs promoted media awareness and educated students on how the media could impact them socially (Paediatr Child Health). Similarly, parents could monitor and regulate the viewing habits of their children, unlike on social media, where parents have minimal control.
The use of social media puts the young generation at risk of having mental disorders (Elsayed). Excessive use of social media correlates with various cognitive health issues, including self-image anxiety and eating disorders, among other issues such as depression and suicide. Research indicates that there has been an increased occurrence of various mental health issues like suicide and depression in the recent past, with the rates of suicide increasing by 56% among youths aged 10 to 24 years between 2007 and 2017. The major contributor to the increased rates is body dissatisfaction among young people. Social media platforms promote the concept of the perfect body where anything from body form, size, weight, and height has become a distinctive feature of this ideal (Kusuma). The increased experiences of body-shaming cause young girls to have reduced self-esteem, where some end up being depressed and exhibit their symptoms by social isolation from their families and their physical environment. Some depressed youngsters opt to use dangerous blogs and sites, which may nurture sexual relations, addiction, and self-aggressive behaviors that are destructive to personal and family relations.
The use of social media can violate the privacy and confidentiality of youngsters (Elsayed). Most of the widely used social media platforms lack the appropriate confidentiality and the security to protect sensitive information shared on these platforms by the users. Most youngsters lack the proper training and orientation to social media use and therefore lack the needed experiences on the safe use of online platforms where vast amounts of private information are exchanged, or false information about an individual is disseminated, putting their privacy and confidentiality at risk. Due to a lack of privacy and confidentiality, a third party can access and misuse an individual’s private and sensitive information (Kusuma). Similarly, the sharing and recording of user data on the internet result in the development of a digital fingerprint that allows a third party to access one’s confidential data.
Social media results in youngsters losing the idea of reference groups in their traditional sense (Elsayed). Social media platforms give rise to a virtual society created by people who necessarily never knew each other prior to them meeting electronically but were brought together by common interests. Virtual societies are sleepless where an individual can contact another at any time of the day. Online societies are indicated to be extremely decentralized and progressively lead to the dismantling of the traditional identity concept. Identity disintegration isn’t limited to the resident or national identity but also applies to personal identity since most social media users usually use avatars and pseudonyms, while others have multiple accounts.
Social media promotes sexting which puts youngsters at risk of sexual harassment and addiction (Elsayed). Sexting entails sending sexual images and messages via computers and smartphones, which rapidly spread on the internet. Research indicates that approximately 20% of adolescents have published pictures and images of themselves semi-naked or naked on social-media platforms. This has resulted in some adolescents being alleged and sentenced on felony charges for publishing pornographic content.
However, despite social media having adverse impacts on young generations, in moderation, it has significant advantages to the young generations same way TV had substantial adverse effects on teens in the early 2000s. When used in moderation, social media offer youngsters a platform to connect with their colleagues, family, and friends with whom they share common interests and offer them a chance to share fun moments, ideas, and pictures. Social media also develops collective and individual creativity of users through the exchange of technical projects and enables users to benefit from innovative experiences (Elsayed). Similarly, social media promotes educational opportunities, raises intelligence, and develops ideas via the creation of online content such as gaming sites, videos, and blogs. In addition, social media platforms offer opportunities for one to learn and engage in constructive dialogues with respect and tolerance on global humanitarian problems, thus promoting social skills and human identity.
On the other hand, watching TV for a long time exposed children to violent acts that elevated their aggressive behavior, especially boys. It’s indicated that, on average, a child was exposed to neatly twelve thousand violent acts on TV per year, including acts depicting rape and murder (Paediatr Child Health). In addition, watching TV has a significant role in increasing rates of obesity among teens. TV used to take away exercise and playtime from teens, thus reducing physical fitness and making them more likely to consume high energy and high fat snack foods since paid TV commercials promoted unhealthy foods and dietary practices.
In conclusion, social media has had an adverse impact on the young generations compared to television’s impacts on the teens of the early 2000s. The use of social media puts the young generation at risk of cyberbullying and increases their risk of developing mental disorders. In addition, the use of social media can violate youngsters’ privacy and confidentiality and put them at risk of sexual harassment and addiction through the promotion of sexting. Nevertheless, when used in moderation, social media can have various advantages, including providing an opportunity for young people to connect with their friends and family, developing collective and individual creativity, providing educational opportunities, and providing an opportunity for people around the globe to engage in constructive dialogue.
Ardi, Zadrian, and Shania Andrisa Putri. “The analysis of the social media impact on the millennial generation behavior and social interactions.” Southeast Asian Journal of Technology and Science 1.2 (2020): 70-77.
Elsayed, Walaa. “The negative effects of social media on the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work.” Heliyon vol. 7,2 e06327. 21 Feb. 2021, doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e06327
Kusuma, Ashavidya. “(PDF) Impact of Social Media on Youth.” ResearchGate, Dec. 2020, www.researchgate.net/publication/347437746_Impact_of_Social_Media_on_Youth.
Paediatr Child Health. “Impact of Media Use on Children and Youth.” Paediatrics & Child Health, vol. 8, no. 5, 2003, pp. 301–17, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792691/.