Effects of Social Media on Society

By Rachel Epperly

Social media has increased throughout the years and become more and more popular. Twenty years ago half of the media types that exist today did not back then. Throughout these years, over fourty new social media, instant messaging, and video sharing apps have been released. Social media has changed how people view themselves, treat others, and spend their free time.

With all these new media types, teenagers now have a way to compare themselves to others even more. They are constantly surrounded by pictures that may or may not even truly represent what others look like. This can lead to a decrease in self appreciation or respect causing teenagers to change the way they look or dress based off of others. Social media has also started to affect children and their behavior. Ten years ago most children would start out with flip or slide phones. Nowadays children get iPhones as their first phones and are exposed to the internet and social media right off the bat.

The increased use of social media has led to an increase in cyberbullying as well. Kids can now hide behind screens and say whatever they feel without having to see the person they’re communicating with face to face. This has caused bullying rates to skyrocket. According to bullyingstatistics.org, over half of adolescents and teens are faced with cyberbullying. Of this huge number of people that have been bullied over the internet, there are up to 4,400 cases of suicide that involve cyberbullying.

The constant use of social media is causing adolescents to become more and more reliant on their phones. Flashgap, a photo-sharing application with more than 150,000 users, conducted a study to see if social media has caused millenials to be less social when in person. This study found that eighty-seven percent of millennials said they missed out on a conversation because they were caught up with something on their phone. Fifty-four percent of people said that they felt a fear of missing out if they did not check their social medias frequently. Studies have shown that oftentimes females are the guiltiest people when it comes to too much time on their phones.

Apple has started giving users notifications of their screen time showing them how much they are on their phones and which of the apps on their phones are causing their screen time to go up. Going off of this, twenty five students at James River High School were asked whether they had more than two types of social media on their phones. 20% of students said that they had two or less, yet 80% said they had more than that. We followed by asking whether these social medias consumed most of their screen time. 90% of the students said yes, and that social media was in their most used apps.  Only 10% of students said no, and that their screen time was consumed by other apps or uses on their phones.

Although social media has had a negative effect on a lot of things and people, it has also made a good impact on some businesses and socialization aspects. Social media has been a way for businesses to reach new audiences. Businesses can create social media pages and post pictures of their products, events, or other things to increase their visibility. These outreach techniques would not be possible or helpful without the use of social media networks. Businesses also use social media to announce any closings or changes in business hours.

Another good thing that social media has provided for society is a way to reconnect with people who you have not seen recently. Social media has made is possible for friends to meet up and talk while being in different places. Society has also started using social media to form new friendships. For example, when graduating from high school, finding new people and making friends when you are going into college can be hard. A lot of colleges now create Facebook pages where accepted students can join, meet, and talk to new people that are also going to that school. After making these new friends, many teenagers now use social media to talk to them by snapchatting or even making group chats with other prospective students. A lot of students have even met their college roomates solely through Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.

All in all, social media has caused a lot of hurt when it comes to the way our society is today, but it has also done a lot of positive things. Without social media, our world would be very different than it is today. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tinder, and many others have all contributed in turning our society into what it is now. Only we can change how we let social media affect the world and what the world turns into because of it.