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The Impact of Social Media and the Effects of Cyberbullying

Communication as we know it is changing all around the world. When it comes to interaction with others many people would rather communicate nonverbally. While some people would argue that social media is actually helping people make connections that they might not have been able to make before; research shows that social media is actually lowering peoples’ communication skills, making an impact on teens self-esteem, and is often leading to cyberbullying. Knowing the effects that social media can and knowing how to prevent bad situations before they become an issue can be lifesaving.

One of the main issues with social media is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is using any form of technology to intentionally intimidate the receiver of the messages. According to a study at Brandeis University, “about half of young people in the United States have experienced some form of cyber bulling; 10-20 percent of those people experience it regularly.” This new form of bullying is becoming more popular than traditional bullying because now teens can hide behind a screen and do not have to be brave enough to say hurtful things face-to-face. One of the primary problems with this is that cyberbullying makes it far to easy for the bully to go past the line. Sometimes cyberbullying pushes people over their limit and the victim commits suicide. In the study at Brandeis University they found that there are about 4,400 suicides from the effects of cyberbullying alone.

Another effect that social media is having on teens is lack of communication skills. Verbally communicating with others is one of the most important aspects of daily life. There are more adults and teenagers now than there ever have been that are socially awkward and this is because “kids aren’t getting enough practice relating to people and getting their needs met in person and in real time, many of them will grow up to be adults who are anxious about our species’ primary means of communication—talking” (Child Mind Institute). There are many ways to solve this ongoing problem. For instance, putting away our phone while we are around people will force communication to the people surrounding us. Putting our phones away while we are around other people is not only respectful but it also might lead to connections that might have never happened if we were lost in the land of Twitter or other forms of social media.

Another huge consequence of social media is the effect it has on teenagers’ self-esteem. Self-esteem can either make or break a person. For example, the person who gets text messages, twitter notifications, and snapchats all day long on their birthday is going to feel loved which will boost their self-esteem. However, the person that just gets messages from their parents on their birthday is going to feel less important which is going to lower their self-esteem. Another example of social media lowering self-esteem is when people go online and see their friends or coworkers getting married, having children, or going on exotic vacations. Seeing things of that nature on a daily basis will lead others to start wondering what they are not doing wrong to not have those kinds of things in their life. According to Jodie Gummow, a social media expert, “50 percent said social media made their lives and their self-esteem worse.”

One of the main issues that parents have with their children on social media is the amount of time their children invest on their phone. However, most parents fail to consider how much time they spend on their phone in front of their children. As stated by Childmind.org “it’s up to parents to set a good example of what healthy computer usage looks like. Most of us check our phones or our email too much, out of either real interest or nervous habit. Kids should be used to seeing our faces, not our heads bent over a screen.” It is scientifically proven that the famous quote “monkey see monkey do” is not an exaggeration. Psychologist B.F. Skinner researched operant conditioning, this type of conditioning is used to strengthen behaviors. B.F Skinner stated that this type of conditioning consist of positive and negative reinforcements. An example of positive reinforcement is adding something that the child wants. For instance, if the parent made a rule of no cell phones at the dinner table and the child follows the rule then the positive reinforcement could be giving them desert or the option to stay up 30 minutes after their original set bed time. The main goal of negative reinforcement is to end something that is unpleasant. For instance, instead of screaming at your child to get off their phone the parent could try asking nicely for their child to pay attention to them. As a good rule of thumb parents should wait to do their work that they need to do until after their child goes to bed or do their work when their child is doing their homework. Spending time with your children is time that you can never get back, enjoy the time while they are still there.

In addition, health is already a huge issue in America and people are making the issue even worse with the over use of technology. We spend hours a day trapped in the world of all the amazing things that technology supplies to us. According to the American Psychological Association, the “daily overuse of media and technology has a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers by making them more prone to anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, as well as by making them more susceptible to future health problems.” This statement is especially true in college students. Students more often than not wait until the very last second to get their work done which has a direct association to the anxiety that students feel. To avoid this terrible feeling, there is a very simple solution. The solution is to stay off of social media long enough to get the important things in life done. Whatever is on social media will still be there when the school work is done.

Not all of social media is bad. There is a study that shows “young adults who spend more time on Facebook are better at showing “virtual empathy” to their online friends.” As humans it is in our nature to want to be liked. When we post status updates we want people to show us that they like what we are doing with our lives. Recently I received an email saying that I made the deans list for Fall 2016. I sent a screenshot of the email to my parents and my stepmom put it on Facebook. After she did my friends and family started showing me “virtual empathy” by telling me congratulations and that they were proud of all the things I am doing with my life. It is nice to go through and read all of these comments because you know that the other person thought about you, even if it is just for a second. Also, when someone post status saying that they are sad or feeling bad about themselves people will contact them offering help, advice, and guidance. It is important to show virtual empathy because you never know how much it will impact the receiver.

In conclusion, social media effects every single teenager either directly or indirectly. Some people get bullied until to the point where they commit suicide, many teenagers lose the ability to effectively communicate with people, and others allow their health suffer due to social media. There is an entire world going on outside of social media full of beautiful moments. Learn to enjoy everything the world has to offer.

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