Is social media harming teenagers?

Bernie Higgins

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Social media” or “Social networks” are terms that typically encompass websites such Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which feature connecting with friends and sharing content in real time. Social media is now a household term. It is a social arena for posting pictures and statuses online, blogging and interacting with others.

Teenagers increasingly can be found and reached online with almost two-thirds of Irish people now owning a smartphone and over 1.8 million of us now visit Facebook at least every day – research has shown. According to figures from the Pew Internet and American Life project, 87 percent of Americans in the 12–17 age bracket use the Internet, and among those 87 percent have access to the Internet at home. We are now looking at the first generation in our society who will never get to say before the internet, a generation growing up and developing while being switched on 24:7. They are now called the “iGeneration”. As humans are becoming reliant on machines to do our jobs and be our companions.  With a result of this, mental functions are diminishing and the lack of use of “calm, linear thought”, according to academics. Social media, on one hand, is a positive thing, we can communicate with people all over the world, and it can inform us instantly with breaking news. However, there is a dark side to being present online. It exposes people to offensive behaviour from other users known a cyberbullying, and the negative effects of social network on the individual psyche have also been studied, although not as thoroughly.

Another social phenomenon student intensified by social media is the term: F.O.M.O. – it’s the fear of missing out, which may have a huge impact on their life if they are no up to date what is happening 24/7. It has been noted that the fear of missing out of something or someone has become so urgent that teenagers are checking their phones while driving because the instant connections are more important than their safety

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According to researchers – teenagers are so addicted to their phones that there is a term coined “Phantom Vibration” this means that they are so connected to their technology, they think their phone vibrates when it hasn’t.

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It is importance to be aware of the influence of social media in teenagers as they are the heaviest users of networking and the most vulnerable. It is important for parents to become open and educated about the positives and negatives of using these sites. This can establish healthy behaviour and possibly prevent long-term implications for teenagers.

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Bernie Higgins