Social Media Spiral Teens have a growing addiction to social media and the aftermath is not pretty…

Millie Sach

Ryan Halligan (age 13) had always been a comedian at heart and loved to make his friends laugh. Ryan enjoyed school and liked to spend time on his AOL IM (messaging) account. As an 8th grader, social media was fairly new to him, so his parents imposed strict rules governing his online behavior. Unfortunately, no rules are strict enough. Ryan committed suicide after being ruthlessly cyber bullied by his “close friend”. The addiction to social media among teens has grown and is now negatively affecting many adolescents across the globe.

The Hook

The growth of social media has caught teens’ attention, and now social media is one of the worst addictions found in this young group. Millions of teens across the world interact with each other via social media. According to the article, ¨Influence of Social Media on Teenagers” by Suren Ramasubbu, ¨75 percent of teenagers in America currently have profiles on social networking sites, of which 68 percent use Facebook as their main social networking tool.¨. Other networking sites include Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. It is staggering that over ¾ of adolescents have and use social networking sites. The growing numbers of users is contributing to the addiction to networking.

As shown in the article, ¨Social Media Addiction¨, researchers have found users are influenced by the idea of virtual lives, ¨In so doing, the ways in which one’s real life aligns with one's virtual life are telling and have become useful fodder for ongoing research.¨ . When people imagine their virtual life they conjure up an ideal life. When a person’s actual life is not how they imagine it, they create a replacement fake one. Virtual lives can lead to many severe problems in the future particularly for shy and anxious people. Besides becoming too involved with their virtual lives thus feeding their addiction, users can become self-conscious about their virtual lives, changing them often.

The amount of teens using social media is astounding!

Teens also think they need to keep up with modern day trends, fashion, and celebrities, in order to be noticed. According to an article by Aurelie Krakowsky, “They also put too much effort into following trends they see online instead of being themselves.”. Lexi Duley is a teenager who also suffers from an addiction to social media. She has experienced feeling the need to keep up with trends in order to feel satisfied with her life. When adolescents feel the need to keep up with trends and their virtual lives, they can become even more addicted to social media. Teens who become addicted to social media become distracted from their real life and pulled into the blackhole of their virtual life.

Central Controversy

Social media raises many issues that greatly impact the lives of young adults, but one of the main concerns is cyberbullying. According to the article, “Influence of Social Media on Teenagers”, “Pew also found that nearly 39 percent of teens on social network have been cyberbullied in some way, in contrast to the 22 percent of online teens who do not use social networks.”. It is astounding to learn that more teenagers have been cyberbullied online rather than the 22 percent who do NOT have social media. Cyberbullying can cause many extreme problems in the future such as anxiety, depression, and even suicide.

Other than cyberbullying people are exposed to the idea of false self-representation. According to the article, “Social Media Addiction”, “That is, a person can update, alter, change, or redefine his or her online identity in the click of a button.”. When arrogant people are open to the endless opportunity to make their dream life a reality, they can quickly become prone to false self-representation or, changing who they really are in spite of themselves.

Aurelie Krakowsky wrote, “I think that people need to take a step back and realize that it’s OK to be yourself.”. People need to know that they can be themselves, but they are blinded by their addiction to networking. The possibilities of a young adult on social media is endless. The teens can change anything negative about their life to a positive, leading to more problems in the future. When teens become addicted to social media it can lead to psychological and health issues such as depression.

Future Footholds

When teens spend too much time on social media and they are negatively affected, it can cause very bad problems in the long run. Many teens who are hurt on social media can suffer from depression and sometimes commit suicide. According to an article by the Megan Meier Foundation for bullying and cyberbullying, over 10% of younger students suffer from suicidal thoughts and 16.3% commit suicide. Interestingly, more younger kids commit suicide than college students and young adults. Suren Ramasubbu states in an article about teenagers’ social media addiction, “In reality, however, the consequences can be life-altering to the extent that the victims could go as far as taking their lives or become psychologically distressed enough to require medical intervention.”. Suren mentions in her article that the consequences can be life-altering for young adults. Bullies do not know the extent of the effects of their bullying on their victims. The underlying reason why people bully is to feel better about something that has gone wrong in their lives. When the bully’s main goal is hurting someone to get back at something, then they think the consequences are small. This is because the bully sees their problem as the bigger problem, therefore making the victim’s problem smaller.

Another long term problem with social media is teens becoming disconnected from reality. In the article, “Influence of Social Media on Teenagers” , the author states that there are many extensive risks associated with social media. They include loss of privacy, sharing too much information, and disconnection from reality. When teens disconnect from reality, they can lose sight of many important factors about modern day life. Teens become addicted and disconnected which means they might not be able to learn very important lessons they need for their future life.

When teens get cyber bullied online they can develop anxiety around social media and other users. According to an article by Joseph C. Viola, after cyberbullied teens become very anxious and shy with other people and around social media. If this happens to teens then they can be very shy and not have important social skills they need for the future such as, obtaining a job and meeting important people. False self-representation means the teens are lying to themselves. The addiction to social media has caused long term effects on young adults that need special solutions.

More teens commit suicide than collage students

How to Help

Since many teens are negatively affected by social media, parents and victims need to be aware of what they can do to stop the problems. The internet is a very public place, and therefore, parents should be more involved in what their kids are doing online. The article, “Influence of Social Media on Teenagers”, states that childhood is the time to look out and realize what the real world is all about, evidently parents should be part of the process. Parents should also become a part of social media, but they should not hover. They need to be aware of what their kids are doing on social media in order to make sure they are safe. The same article shows the reader how parents and caregivers can and should be involved in social media. If teens do not want their parents to have access to their social media, the parents need to warn them of the dangers of social media.

Teens and parents should also step back and unplug from social media. This idea is shown in an article by Aurelie Krakowsky, teens need to step back and unplug from social media in order to see how much they are using it. If teens can look for perspective and figure out how much they are online, it can stop them from developing problems in the future. Personally, I reflected on my social media usage, and realized how much I used social media. Many teens will say they are not addicted but, they really are. By stepping back they can cut down on how much they use social media.

When teens have problems that are more severe, they need support from online and real life sources. There are many online sources teens can visit such as the National Eating Disorder Association that can help teens with their networking problems. There are also suicide hotlines to help teens that are having suicidal thoughts or actions. The best solution for big problems is to talk to an adult about the problems you are facing. An adult can give you helpful advice and understand your problems. When teens become addicted to social media and get hurt then they need support and to make sure the problem does not happen again.

There are many ways teens can get support for problems such as depression

My Advice

As a social media user, I think teens need to learn the negatives of networking. My advice is to once in awhile take a step back, and reflect on how much time you spend online. Teens need a new way to find perspective rather than being glued to their devices all the time. When you take a step back you can avoid hurting yourself and others in the future. You and others must learn to be responsible on the internet.

I think teens need to know about cyber bullying and about how to support people who suffer from things like depression and anxiety. I have found that taking a step back has helped me to become a more responsible social media user. If other teens continue to search for perspective then social media communities can stop problems like cyberbullying. Many people and organisations have been working very hard to stop these problems and it has been working very well. These people and organisations should continue to work hard to help many hurt teens around the globe.

Works Cited

Krakowsky, Aurelie. "Student Examines Negative Effects of Social Media on Teens." Explora. N.p., 16 Apr. 2014. Web.

"Social Media Addiction." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

Viola, Joseph C. "Social Media Addiction." Explora. N.p., Jan. 2015. Web.

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