If you picture a school cafeteria or a starbucks, some place public- what fact is undeniably difficult to not notice? In today’s society it is clear that cell phones are central in young people’s lives. Unfortunately, the people using social media are often considered children. This means they are easily influenced because they are not fully mentally developed.We must remember that a fair amount of students care more about clothing and popularity than education and careers at that particular age. Young people are barely becoming their own person and at that age they are more likely to compare themselves to others, which makes them more at risk to subconsciously navigate themselves to low self esteem (Nesi andPrinstein). The problem is that when there is a decline in a child’s self esteem it brings forward issues, such as aggression, which negatively impacts not only the family but the child’s classroom environment (Donnellan, M. Brent, et al). It used to be there was only traditional media to worry about. However, today we have social media which is around the person all hours of the day in their phones, or similar devices. With this new generation, there has to be awareness for the youth, especially young girls, to be their own person and not to let what they see online bring down their self esteem. There needs to be awareness of the dangers that social media can have on the self and the best way is by having talks in schools, starting in elementary school. This can all be done in a class setting or a yearly instructional intervention.

          There used to be a time where there was only so much to worry about when it came to media. For example, traditional media was where all or most of the media was compacted in (Fardouly, Pinkus, and Vartanian). It used to be that only women in billboards and magazines were photoshopped and edited, now everyone has the power to do the same and people see this and since it is artificial and they look better than everyday regular people, many start doing the same. With the new media, which is social media,  there is more dangerous effects that come along with it compared to traditional media. According to the academic article “The impact of appearance comparisons made through social media, traditional media, and in person in women’s everyday lives.” there is an “extreme” upward comparison on women’s appearance when they are on social media more than traditional media and even in person (Fardouly, Pinkus, and Vartanian). Upward and downward comparisons are self explanatory in the name themselves. The upward comparison means comparing oneself to someone they believe is higher or “upward” than themselves. Downward comparison is the opposite and it means they compare themselves with people who they view lower or “downward” than themselves. Both are not entirely good but downward comparison is shown to be less harmful than upward comparison. They stated  “Furthermore, upward comparisons through social media had the worst impact of any context on women’s mood” (Fardouly, Pinkus, and Vartanian). Social media is used for different things from many people, but there shouldn’t be any mood changes among their time spent there. That is worrisome in itself. This is not the only source which concludes that it affects their mood. “The Relations Among Social Media Addiction, Self-Esteem, and Life Satisfaction in University Students” also conducted studies and also states that social media lowers some women’s self esteem and also life satisfaction (Hawi,Samaha.) In addition to the finding of upward comparison Fardouly, Pinkus, and Vartanian also found women have more thoughts on dieting and exercising after they spend time on social media. However, before many say things such as “It’s good that females are motivated to be healthy and if that means having to compare themselves to others then it’s okay” be aware that there was no actual movement to the thoughts. There was no action, meaning it is unlikely but not completely diminished that women take actual steps to exercising after feeling low, it’s mostly a negative mental thing. It is important to be aware of these things because the more knowledge someone has the more they teach the ones around and may save someone from the “mental and physical health”(Fardouly, Pinkus, and Vartanian) problems that come with it. 

       Women are the main sex talked about when it comes to self esteem problems and social media, because females are on social media more than males (Hawi,Samaha). Males are less likely to use social media and are also less likely that they have depressive symptoms, ERS which stands for Excessive Reassurance-Seeking and also less in peer-reported popularity ,which may be because they don’t use social media to start with(Nesi,Prinstein).That doesn’t mean only women should learn about this in schools or elsewhere. Everyone should know how to use social media in the proper form and explore it carefully. In elementary schools there are lectures on drugs because they seem more harmful to the students and their surroundings. There are also real dangers that come with low self esteem not only to the individual but to the ones around the child (Donnellan, Trzesniewski, et al). This is bad for the school environment which then becomes a school problem. In a study they got parents and teachers reports which showed aggression correlates with narcissism and low self esteem (Donnellan Trzesniewski, et al).  Narcissism is not the same as high self esteem it is quite the opposite according to the article “Let Me Take a Selfie”: Associations Between Self-Photography, Narcissism, and Self-Esteem”. Narcissism is described as believing one is superior to others while high self esteem does not necessarily stand for the same thing. This article also concurs that female use social media more than males with 68% being female (Barry, Doucette, et al). Social media should be a place for enjoyment and even self improvement in things such as education and career but instead with things like selfies it all becomes focused around the “self”. This is not entirely bad but it is becoming a way people advertise themselves in their personal lives. It is all advertisement and people are becoming the media in the “self presentation” they give off (Vogel, Rose, et al.).

Instead of advertising their actual personal self, which results in upward comparison in social networking and appearance which evidently is causing hurt in themselves, (Fardouly, Pinkus, and Vartanian) they should focus on the other benefits social media brings and teach these to children. Debbie Marsh promotes this in her piece “Leveraging Social Media in the Elementary Classroom” by talking about her personal experience and also the people she knows and their experiences. It speaks on the ways it is best for students as young as elementary students to use social media. There are two main points she speaks on which includes students posting their work on blogs and also skyping globally to make students aware of outer connections. They participate in the Global Read Aloud program.(Marsh) These two points are great in themselves but if analysed it may even have more benefits. This can mean students grow up becoming respectful of each other’s work and posts online and also more confident in their choices, in their own voice(Hollan), and in themselves. When taught to use social media for school related assignments, there in that instance is where students should be prepared and taught of all the effects social media has on them. Before a science experiment there is about a week or two where the teachers speak of the safety and harm of the material and instruments being used. Same exact thing should go to social media except it should go deeper than just school, it should go into their personal lives as well. Beth Hollan writes similarly to Marsh and states in her personal article “Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students” that it is important to introduce social media in an “appropriate and meaningful way” (Hollan) . Hollan also informs of and promotes both the Kidsblog and skyping to help the kids connect similar as to what Marsh wrote. This is important to talk about, because not only does it help students academically but also personally and will help them look at social media in a more mature way.Bringing forward many positive effects instead of negative.  

        If it were as simple as parents teaching their children these things, it would be great, but unfortunately many don’t have parents. Many parents are on social media themselves and don’t view it as a negative aspect of their life. There are according to “Worldwide Childrens Statistics” an estimation of 140 million children without parents living today (UNICEF). Which means it is important schools teach these things if not in class then in instructional interventions. Interventions are usually more useful than harmful. For example, in the article “Social Media Effects on Young Women’s Body Image Concerns: Theoretical Perspectives and an Agenda for Research” it talks about the interventions in the past on binge drinking. According to the article it states “These campaigns have had some success in curtailing binge drinking and reducing peer endorsement of alcohol use (Godbold and Pfau 2000; Schroeder and Prentice 1998).” Alcohol is considered a drug and there is such a thing as alcoholism which means if they had positive results in this strong area then the only thing necessary is for someone to say the word and fight to teach social media and the effects of it at schools. They also talk about ads which ended in sayings such as “I’m beautiful the way I am” (Hartocollis 2013, p. A17).” these ads could make such a positive difference to the world.It is clear that there is definitely no hurt in trying.


        As mentioned before people do compare themselves to others especially on social media.Females especially and they look at pictures and their mood and self esteem declines(Donnellan, et al.). What is to say that the opposite of this which is positive affirmations and ads increase their self esteem and mood? Going back to the aggression and externalizing problems that come along with self esteem problems, it is important to not just pass this as an insubstantial issue. With increased confidence it will decrease aggression which means less fights between students and less trouble for teachers. This is predicted by the evidence provided that many problems arise with issues such as self esteem that social media is making worse (Donnellan, et al.). There is already enough decreased self esteems with traditional media.We can help decrease the social media aspect of it which along comes other  beneficial factors to society making it a more positive environment for all.

        Lastly, it is also important to know that there is a solution. It is possible and there is reason behind this theory. There was a study conducted where there were females who went in a room and saw slideshows of fashion models and automobiles and then they would have to report how they felt. There were women who had a video intervention before they went in to see the slides and others who did not. Those who did see the intervention reported “significantly less weight concern”(Heidi and Posavac). This study was conducted by Heidi and Steven Posavac in 2001 but it still has not become popular to teach these things in schools. In another study in the article called “Improving the Body Image, Eating Attitudes, and Behaviors of Young Male and Female Adolescents: A New Educational Approach that Focuses on Self-Esteem” they not only concur and found the same results in their own study but also found additional beneficial information.This study was “held for the 116 students (63% females) with low self-esteem and higher anxiety, who were considered at risk for the development of eating disorders” (O’Dea and Abraham). The shocking news is that they reported higher body satisfaction and less problems with self esteem but it showed it not only helped as short term but after a year they still had the same beliefs and confidence in themselves (O’Dea and Abraham). They mention how this study suggests that it is possible to change how people think after being fed all the advertisements and peer pressures they had gone through (O’Dea and Abraham). Young adults and especially children are simple to brainwash. A dramatic example would be with Hitler and the children willing to fight for him during World War Two. That is why the proposition of teaching elementary children first is a great idea,  because “as adolescents move toward developing cohesive self-identities, they typically engage in greater levels of social comparison and interpersonal feedback-seeking” (Nesi and Prinstein). It should start in elementary or middle school where they are still grabbing information and making it into them, their own person. There is concrete evidence that it has worked before so why not give it a try in American schools starting from elementary schools?

       In conclusion, social media is extremely relevant to today’s society. It brings more harmful effects than traditional media does and did in the past. However, it is also beneficial and not entirely wrong. The only thing wrong with social media is in the minds of the people and how they view things and actually use it. The negative effects that social media brings to the users can be dangerous for the people especially young ones who are more vulnerable and are still processing who they are as a person. The solution which is teaching this in schools not only helps students as individuals but also teachers, faculty in general, parents, friends, every day people who meet these people with low self esteem.In a broader sense it affects a great deal of people that it would be foolish not to have interventions to prevent low self esteem. People, particularly women, already have a lot to deal with when it comes to traditional media as in billboard’s, movies, magazines. It is often heard in teenagers of how some don’t necessarily fancy what society and the media has to bring,yet many are guilty of promoting and being involved with it. We are all members of society so it makes total sense to get involved with the trends and types of media.What does not make sense is why not try to make the place where people live a better place for everyone. This includes your daughter, friend, girlfriend, even wives and mothers are part of this.Just remember a child has something to offer, a teacher has something to offer, a student has something to offer, even a pet which is a animal has something to offer. Everyone has something to offer so instead of blending in like everyone else and comparing yourselves to appearance which usually is artificial to start with, just become aware of what this is doing to everyone and speak out against it. Promote awareness and school interventions that will most likely help you or someone you know.

Works Cited

1)Barry, Christopher T., et al. ““Let me take a selfie”: Associations between self-photography, narcissism, and self-esteem.” Psychology of popular media culture 6.1 (2017): 48.

2)Donnellan, M. Brent, et al. “Low self-esteem is related to aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency.” Psychological science 16.4 (2005): 328-335.

3)Fardouly, Jasmine, Rebecca T. Pinkus, and Lenny R. Vartanian. “The impact of appearance comparisons made through social media, traditional media, and in person in women’s everyday lives.” Body Image 20 (2017): 31-39.

4)Hawi, Nazir S., and Maya Samaha. “The Relations Among Social Media Addiction, Self-Esteem, and Life Satisfaction in University Students.” Social Science Computer Review (2016): 0894439316660340.

5)Hollan, Beth. Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students. George Lucas Education Foundation.June 18, 2013, https://www.edutopia.org/blog/introducing-social-media-lower-elementary-beth-holland. May 17, 2017.

6)Marsh, Debbie. Leveraging Social Media in the Elementary Classroom. National Associations of Elementary School Principals. February 2015, http://www.naesp.org/communicator-february-2015/leveraging-social-media-elementary-classroom Volume 38, Issue 6. May 16,2017

7)Nesi, Jacqueline, and Mitchell J. Prinstein. “Using social media for social comparison and feedback-seeking: gender and popularity moderate associations with depressive symptoms.” Journal of abnormal child psychology 43.8 (2015): 1427-1438.

8)O’Dea, Jennifer A., and Suzanne Abraham. “Improving the body image, eating attitudes, and behaviors of young male and female adolescents: A new educational approach that focuses on self-esteem.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 28.1 (2000): 43-57.

9)Perloff, Richard M. “Social media effects on young women’s body image concerns: Theoretical perspectives and an agenda for research.” Sex Roles 71.11-12 (2014): 363-377.

10) Posavac, Heidi D., Steven S. Posavac, and Richard G. Weigel. “Reducing the impact of media images on women at risk for body image disturbance: Three targeted interventions.” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 20.3 (2001): 324-340.

11)SOSUS, Student Villages USA. Worldwide Children’s Statistics, April 2016, http://www.sos-usa.org/our-impact/childrens-statistics. May 2nd 2017.

12)Vogel, Erin A., et al. “Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.” Psychology of Popular Media Culture 3.4 (2014): 206-222.