As If Being a Teen Weren’t Hard Enough

Social media- there’s just no escaping it. It’s become our newest dimension of communication and has allowed us to connect with others across the globe in the matter of seconds. One age group that seems to be effected by the rapid growth of social media would be teenagers. An increasing amount of teens are now online through some form of social media and that number is growing every year. This change has led to a different type of generation than we have seen in previous years, with both beneficial and consequential aspects to it. Here are 5 ways that social media has changed what it is like to be a teenager in today’s society:

Social Media is a Major Part of their Lives:

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According to a study conducted Pew Research Center “92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online ‘almost constantly’”. Much of this spike in the use of social media comes from the availability of smartphones throughout younger age groups. Social media has become a fifth limb to many teenagers throughout the U.S.. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have given teenagers an outlet to connect with their friends without the necessity of being in the same room as them. Teens now comprise one of the largest demographics that use social media, steadily inclining with every passing year. Just a decade ago teens were not using social media the way teens are today which has shaped and transformed the ways that teenagers interact with each other and with different age groups.

Lack of Emotional Connection Through Conversation

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Social media has created a physical barrier between humans. This barrier has taken away the emotional connection that we find when we communicate with one another. The barrier of technology and social media prohibits us from seeing the emotional response and delivery that we get when we are having face-to-face conversations with other people. Chandra Johnson of the Deseret News said in an article “kids who spend more time engaging with a screen than with other kids or adults can struggle to understand emotion, create strong relationships or become more dependent on others.” Psychologist Jim Taylor said in the same article “kids are spending so much time communicating through technology that they’re not developing basic communication skills that humans have used since forever.” The barrier of social media is taking away teens ability to read and comprehend emotions through conversation and can have detrimental effects on these teens later in life.

Alarming Increase in Cyber Bullying

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Cyber bullying has been a major topic of discussion in recent years because of the increase use of social media throughout teens. According to information found on InternetSafety101.org, “ one million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyber bullying on Facebook during the past year.” The same information stated that 90% of social media users who witnessed cyber bullying did not take action to stop the cyber bullying from continuing. Some reported that they would even go as far as to support the person cyber bullying, worsening the effects it has on the person being cyber bullied. Because of the wall that social media and technology has created between two people talking, teenagers are now able to harass and make fun of others without having to physically confront the other person. Social media has allowed for others to bully through a computer screen, which has had lasting effects on the self-esteem and self-image of teens throughout the world.

Attention Spans Diminished

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Social media has not only had an effect on how teens interact and connect with other people, but it has also had a negative effect on how much they pay attention. According to Neil Vidyarthi of Adweek, “over the course of the last ten years the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to a staggeringly short 5 minutes.” For teens whose brains have not fully developed this trend is even more alarming. This decrease in attention span can lead to a multitude of problems, including poor performance throughout school. Teens are now having to deal with the inability to focus on one thing at a time, a trend that is only worsening with the growth of social media. With every social media site at their finger tips, teens are now choosing to stay on these sights instead of their alternatives- homework and actual responsibilities.

Need for More Reassurance

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Social media has created a need for reassurance through a simple “like” button for many teenagers. Everyone’s experienced it- you post a clever, funny status, sit there and wait for the “likes” to roll in only to be disappointed when the only people to press that button are your mother and grandmother. For teens, social media has become their outlet for reassurance and acceptance in this society. According to an article entitled “Looking For ‘Likes’ In All The Wrong Places: On Social Media and Self-Worth”, author Ethan Gilsdorf says “ the effects of not being “liked” or “shared” becomes the equivalent of not being asked to the big dance.” Increasingly, teens are measuring their self-worth through the amount of validation and positive feedback they receive throughout their social media accounts. This has a major impact on teen’s self-esteem, especially with the rise we have seen in cyber bullying.

Other Sources Used:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/social-media-and-teens/, http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/index2.html, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/our-attention-span-is-now-less-than-that-of-a-goldfish-microsoft-study-finds-10247553.html, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kids-social-media-survey-instagram-twitter-facebook/

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