Social Media No More?
Many people in the world today have the mindset of “if you don’t like it, leave it”. Social media has taken over the internet, and with that comes increases in cyber bullying, lack of self-esteem and suicide. Of course, there are several opponents to this viewpoint that counter the argument by saying if people were just to stay off of the platforms and live a social media free life, then these problems would not be so prevalent in society. While this may be true and useful advice to some people, it is almost impossible to rid social media presence completely. Younger teens are not always being monitored in order to stay offline, school and work now flow through social media platforms and electronic access only continues to grow. So how long is “just stop using social media” really a solution?
Social Media has blown up over the past decade and grown millions of users. Sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all depend on user generated content to keep the site growing and popular. This all seems great until you look at the statistics of what these platforms and “likes” are doing to young users. 52% of students have reported being the victim of cyberbullying with 84.2% naming Facebook as the site through which they have been bullied, followed by Instagram (23.4%), Twitter (21.4%), and Snapchat (13.5%). This bullying can stem from photos posted, the number of likes a picture has or how many followers a user has. Students who range younger in age take this sort of bullying into a different head space. Middle school children who are victims of cyberbullying are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than a high school student. A different 2016 study found that overuse of social media as an adolescent may decrease success in relationships later in life as online communication hinders the development of conflict management skills and awareness of interpersonal cues. In turn, this can cause low self esteem and a lot of future issues with self-appreciation. Instead of doing away with being able to see the amount of likes a user is getting to assist in bringing these statistics down, opposing viewpoints say to get off of the site completely. This is not possible and would never work in today’s society for an ample amount of reasons.
Deleting social media all together seems like a peaceful getaway. Sure, it’s a semi permeant solution to end cyberbullying, low self-esteem and suicide caused by social media, but not an everlasting one. Parents think they have full control over their children at all times and can limit what they are seeing online. Facts are, they don’t. Kids will never stop migrating to new apps that are foreign to parents. Banning social media just isn’t realistic. All that is needed to be a new user on a social site is an email address and internet access. With this being said, students would still be able to access the sites and find themselves in the same position they are now. This could also end worse than if likes were just deleted because the young users would have no one to turn to if they were being bullied and felt low since they have been hiding the accounts. This is the ultimate backfire and would be the opposite of what success would look like.
Not only would banning young teens from social media be nearly impossible, it could also lead to issues in school. There’s a risk of social marginalization for kids who are not allowed to socialize in this way that’s now so embedded in social lives. If a teenager is at the age where all of their friends are on social media it can lead to feelings of being left out, isolated and socially ostracized from peers. Again, this could lead to self-harm and irreversible neurological damage. Another reason banning social media can have the reverse effect.
Another reason the argument of banning social media is invalid and unattainable in todays world is due to work and school flow through the sites. 48% of job-seekers credit social media for helping find their current job and 69% of students use social media when finding internships. Ignoring these sites would hurt the value that they bring to the table. Social media is also sometimes required for school research and to network with fellow students. In the United States more than 80% of college and university faculty use social media; more than 50% use it for teaching; and 30% for communicating with students. This is a need and another reason deleting the site as a whole would hinder students and not aid to their success.
Social media is seen for all of its negatives at most times but deleting it would be detrimental in case of emergency. Federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals surveyed say that they use social media to notify the public of emergencies or disasters. Facebook also allows people to mark themself safe in the event of a crisis which notifies the friends list that the user is okay. This would be otherwise impossible without an account.
Critics who emphasize the concept of deleting social media as a whole is almost ridiculous. Not only is this nearly impossible but there are also many negatives that are not be looked into. Sure, a parent can “ban” their child from social media, but they can still sneak on anyway and see worse effects in isolation and becoming ostracized. Businesses thrive on social media existence and taking it away completely would only create a collapse of them. Schools (especially since COVID) have been using social media sites to communicate with students and allow students to get in touch with one another as well. Taking away this avenue could affect learning completely. Lastly, it all sounds amazing to live a social media free life until a crisis occurs. Marking ourselves safe and becoming aware of surrounding dangers in the world in a timely manner would be taken way if social media wasn’t in Americans lives. Deleting social media as a whole is just not the answer. Maybe doing the lesser of two and taking away the likes social media presents would be a perfect intermediate point. Not showing likes would allow for the use of social media for all the positives, without giving users a reason to feel insecure and low.
LexisNexis, “Social Media Use in Law Enforcement: Crime Prevention and Investigative Activities Continue to Drive Usage,” lexisnexis.com, Nov. 2014
opRank Marketing News, “TopRank Fast Facts: 50+ Useful Consumer Insights & Statistics for Online Marketers,” toprankmarketing.com, May 20, 2013
Statistic Brain, “Cyberbullying / Bullying Statistics,” statisticbrain.com (accessed July 13, 2016)