Social Media: Friend or Foe?

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(Photo | BBC)

Social media has become a tool present in our everyday lives. But is it more helpful or damaging to our well-being?

In modern-day society, social media is tremendously influential in the lives of us teenagers. We check our Snapchats, Instagrams, and Twitters frequently in between tasks in our everyday lives. 

At BASH, it seems that these practices have gotten out of hand to the point where teachers are removing students’ phones and storing them in an area out of reach while instructing. Despite this, students have been sneaky in finding ways to get on their phones. They do things like putting their phones under their desks or behind their laptop screens. Students are putting a lot of effort into sneaking onto their phones to message friends or checking their social media pages. 

 Social media is seen as a tool that opens us up to wider audiences. But recently, the dark sides of social media has come to light. According to a study conducted by Washington Post, thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse. The study also found that 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves on Instagram.

We see examples in school every day of how addicting social media has become in the lives of everyday teens. Their blatant addiction to social media makes us ponder the effects of social media in our lives and leaves us with one question: Is social media a friend or foe?

A friend?

Social media allows users to reach a wider audience than they can in person. Many teenagers have become famous on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Some of these teens have millions of followers on these platforms and have gained a tremendous influence on the web.

The lives of many teens have been changed for the better by social media. A lot of social media stars came from low-income families who struggled to provide for them. Their social media success changed their lives for the better and allowed them to provide for their families. Social media has made the desire to become famous more attainable.

Social media has also connected people around the globe in a way that was not possible in the past. You can get on one of the platforms in New York and talk to someone in Los Angeles in real-time. You can communicate with a friend or family member who moved to a different country and not have to worry about paying for international calling or waiting days for mail.

It  has opened up floodgates of information to the public. News and important information are available to us in a very timely manner. Social media has revolutionized the way we get our news.

A Foe?

Because it is easy to spread information on social media, it is easier to spread hatred and misinformation. People have taken to these outlets to ridicule others, leave hateful comments, and spread fake news. Hate speech is prevalent on social media and has lead to many problems we see today in society. Many studies directly attribute social media to increased suicide and depression rates. ‘

For many, a social media addiction leads to anxiety. 

According to Pew Research Center, 45% of teens say they feel overwhelmed by all the drama on social media, while 13% say they feel very overwhelmed. Based on this data, one can infer that social media harms an individual more than it helps.

Friend or Foe?

Like all things, social media has its negatives and positives. It has changed the way we live as teens. We use it for positive things such as spreading information, talking to friends, or growing our sphere of influence. 

However, social media has its drawbacks like increased stress, anxiety, a distraction in our daily lives, and increased depression rates. 

Social media being a friend or a foe ultimately depends on how the individual decides to use it. Do you choose to use social media as a positive tool that can open you to more possibilities? Or do you choose to use social media carelessly? Personal responsibility and knowing the risks of social media will decide if social media will be a friend or foe.

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