Social Media issues permeate every aspect of our lives these days; whether it’s revealing “TMI” (Too Much Info) about one’s life on Snapchat and Instagram, having public spats and rants on Twitter or inadvertently inviting absolute strangers to our homes from Facebook ‘friends’ list for a birthday party. Social media has eaten deep into us so much that it seem impossible to imagine what life was like before it’s advent. Words like ‘selfie’, ‘Retweet’, ‘Follow’ have been redefined and found there way into the dictionary. We are now all conversant with the short-hand writing and slangs used globally across the ever increasing various platforms online; teenagers of the 21st century now have real life conversations in texting language. I have friends that will literally say ‘lol’, ‘lmao’, ‘asap’ etc.
Social media is so compelling in the life of younger people basically because it seem to answer their need for friendship and brain stimulation. More than ever, there exist a deep-seated instinct to reach out beyond one’s family, to broaden one’s social circle and make new friends. There is also an innate drive for activities that sharpen and stretch our minds.
Use of social media has therefore become pandemic amongst the younger generation. We invest majority of our time chatting and conversing with others online. In fact, statistics shows that 95% of younger people have social media accounts while 80% of this group are constantly online.
What is the purpose of Social Media?
Social Media is meant for the online exchange of personal interests, career interest, ideologies, information and more recently, advertising and marketing.
Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snap Chat and others are all sites that allow the online communication process for personal and business purposes.
However, younger people are constantly abusing their social media rights by indulging in unscrupulous acts that portray indecency. They also waste valuable time on social media chatting away their lives instead of investing their time in other activities such as learning, sports, acquiring skills, learning to play an instrument and other value adding activities. Instead of trying to improve their skills, they waste time going through tweets or snap-chatting with one another.
Security Risks/Negative Effects of Social Media on Users
According to clinical psychologist and mother of two teenagers, Dr Tara Cousineau, young people are wired for socialization and Social Media creates highly interactive platforms through which they can achieve this yet the lasting impact it leaves on the lives it touches is unparalleled and cannot be overlooked.
I have put together some of the negative effects that social media has on our lives and the danger we are exposed to every single day:
- Cyberbullying: Today, it has been discovered that cyberbullying has increased the rate of suicide amongst the youth. It has slowly become one of the major threats to a peaceful coexistence in the society as well as human life. Many victims of failed attempts to commit suicide blame cyberbullying as the cause of the irrational decision.
- Cyber-stalking: Whether you choose to believe it or not, someone somewhere could possibly be looking up your profile online right now. People watch and observe our every move through our various social media pages. What would they find on your page right now? Can a random twitter follower find your home address just looking through your tweets?
- Cyber Crime/Scam: The ever increasing out-cry of people loosing money to ‘someone they met online’ isn’t a myth. Social media users are vulnerable to fraudsters who pose alike under the virtual world protection.
- Identity Theft: Social Media makes identity theft so easy that users could pose to be someone else without the victim knowing. This is the reason some social networking sites have Verified Accounts for celebrities and popular brands. But for majority of the regular users, there’s nothing protecting us from users who could commit cyber crime with our ID.
- Explicit Imagery and Videography: You can’t predict the content of the image you will find on your timeline the next time you visit any of your social media account. This is worrisome. From pornography to extreme sensitive graphical images/videos, the explicit visuals social media exposes us to everyday is a drawback.
- Violence: Seeing violent media content often enough can make it more likely that someone will behave in an aggressive or violent way, be less understanding of other people’s needs and feelings, or feel more afraid of their environment.
- Time Wasting: How many hours of the day do you spend on social media per day? per week, month? Try to sum this up and figure out exactly how many hours you spend in a year just chatting or liking posts on Instagram. It’s quite disturbing and ridiculous!
What has technology brought to our world? Be the judge, is it really ‘Social Media’ or ‘Negative Media’??
I look forward to your comments below. Kindly add to the above list and share post on your favourite social media page. lol
(The Shield Columnist)
UFP Social Science