What’s the harm?

We have all heard the positive aspects of social media site such as connection to our love ones, and bring people with the same interests together. However, when social media contain advantages, disadvantages will appear as well. Through light pondering over the subject, the negatives of social media come to light. In the case of social media, you will lose your privacy; after all, you had volunteered your personal information that is now online. The digital footprint is a permanent trail that users of social media leave the moment they sign into any service.

The one potential risk of social networking is losing your privacy through hacking. Incidents such as profiles and accounts being hacked into are common. These incidents often lead to serious identity theft. In the case of some people, passwords are set using the things around them. From this aspect, the hackers dig around a person’s common interests, background, and professional information to extract the sensitive information used to hack into his or her account. With the simple data taken, the hackers could easily create another identity, resulting in identity theft. Almost 15 million Americans are victims, either indirectly or directly, of identity theft. According to a survey conducted by PCWorld, although people are aware of the risks of using social media, only 40% of the people manage their privacy settings. LexisNexis and Lawers.com surveyed 1,000 Americans and found that half of them divulged too much personal data online. What is more worrying is the fact that 44 percent of them believed that the information they posted on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace were being used against them. The privacy settings are beneficial in the long run, but people do not take their time to carefully invest on securing their accounts against unknown people.

The risk of privacy risks are not the only disadvantages of social media. While people create a favorable image of themselves, the same image can also be tarnish by other people’s claims. A viral social media link can cause problems due to the content spoken and can lead to huge losses to one’s image or a business’s firm.

One’s image is only a small-scale problem when social media affects a person’s health. Spending too much time on social media may result in mental and health problems. Excessive time spent on social networking can cause some individuals to experience withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms result in a retreat from actual interaction with other people and rely solely on social media. Face to face interactions and socializing will become a burden. In an extreme case, even interactions with family will be substituted with social networking.

Social media is a big influence on teenagers particularly, because they are the heaviest users of social networking and may be vulnerable. According to a report by Common Sense Media, 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. While social networking plays a vital role in making social connections, the risks are inevitably still there. The lack or difficulty in regulation profiles makes teenagers vulnerable to threats. Such threats may be cyber-bullying. 32 percent of online teens admit to having experienced menacing online advances from others and 13 percent of surveyed youngsters admitted to receiving threatening or aggressive messages. The forms of messages are often received in the form of emails and social networking sites. Pew research found that 15 percent of teens were disturbed and uncomfortable about having their private message forwarded or posted in a public forum, and found that nearly 39 percent of teens on social network have been cyber bullied in some way, compared with 22 percent of online teens who do not use social networks. Some people may think that cyber-bullying is harmless due to the non-physical interactions and that the consequences are small. In reality, the consequences can be life altering to the victims that they would go as far as taking their own lives or become psychologically distresses to require medical attention.

Sure, the internet is very useful and helpful to many, and have brought a common medium for thoughts, words and expression to share with the world. But teenagers are obsessed and abusing the use of social media. Teenagers are not always aware of the risks and how vulnerable they are being exposed to through social media. Social media is taking away a teenager’s childhood and creating a form of trap for the users. The media is an easy way for people to lie and people are believing in the media.

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