All around the globe, human beings have become more connected through the advancements in technology. The internet came from these advancements, and social media websites became one of the spawns of the internet. Social media, as defined by Caleb T. Carr and Rebecca A. Hayes of Illinois State University’s School of Communication, is “internet-based channels that allow users to opportunistically interact and selectively self-present, either in real-time or asynchronously, with both broad and narrow audiences who derive value from user-generated content and the perception of interaction with others” (Social Media: Defining, Developing, and Divining). With one definition of social media addiction, given by Chou et al., as the “psychological dependence on the Internet” (Internet Addiction Risk in the Academic Environment). The enjoyability and added connective element that social media has brought the masses is undeniable. However, what is also undeniable is the fact that since the internet is so accessible, the overuse and misuse of it is very plausible and is often occurring. Social media has reached a ridiculous amount of people; it’s literally in the pockets of millions, perhaps billions, of people. So parents, this would mean that it’s more likely than not that your kids would be included in that statistic. With such great power, the purpose of a resource influencing millions upon millions of people should, in effect, reap positive outcomes.

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With that being said, the amount of meaningless, ill-informed, non-purposeful information floating around social media is tremendous. The internet houses a plethora of educational and informational resources that are just as in reach as the “fun” websites that are at the fingertips of young people around the world. Although it may very well be impossible to get a precise number of adolescents with a social media footprint due to the ability to lie about your age online, just look at your own children. It is more likely than not that they have at least one social media account.

It is true that social media has its positive impacts in the lives of children. Such as making online friends, connecting more with family members, or furthering their education wherever they may be. However, studies on the effects of social media have found connections to severe depression, anxiety, and insomnia (Koc and Gulyagci, 2013). While there also has been studies finding connections to clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders, impairment of interpersonal skills, and a reduction of social self-esteem (Nyland et al., 2007; Tokunaga, 2011, Valkenburg et al., 2006).

It is quite common for someone who is used to using a product frequently to feel antsy when going without it for some time, such as a drug addict. According to Andreassen et al. in a study done in 2012, “those who are addicted to social media will be anxious if they cannot constantly check or update their status in social media sites” (Face it, don’t Facebook it). This would clearly be a distraction to a child who should be in class paying attention or doing work. Furthermore, if they grow up and get a job or go into a career, if they keep up their social media habits, they will have a hard time focusing and possibly keeping a job. The constant multitasking and shifting of attention that social media teaches its users will make it harder for them to focus on one thing for a long period of time. Needing to focus on a single task at a time is undoubtedly bound to happen in one’s life. It is an unfair and hindering habit to have a feeling of needing to constantly check social media.

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According to Ariel Shensa et al., “numerous studies found that greater daily time spent on social media, increased frequency of [social media use], and multiple platform use were associated with both depression and anxiety” (Face it, don’t Facebook it). For example, in the research article Problematic Social Media Use: Results from a Large-Scale Nationally Representative Adolescent Sample, the writers (Bányai et al.) presented that, “Pantic and Damjanovic, Wegmann and Stodt, and Andreassen and Billieux reported a significant positive correlation between depression symptoms and social media use, while Malik and Khan found negative relationship between self-esteem and high levels of social media use.” Although it is difficult to definitively come to the conclusion of whether there is a direct connection between social media use and depression and anxiety, so much research and experiments have been conducted and concluded such a result. As a parent, even the suggestion that social media has a correlation with increased depression and anxiety must be concerning.

One possible solution would be for you, the parents, to try to push your children’s schools to have a proper assembly or guest seminar to speak on social media. Gagan Deep backs this statement in his article, Social media and the mental health of teenagers: An insight., when he writes that “different counseling and informational sessions can be organized at schools”. Children spend a lot of their lives in school, and there is more in life to learn than mathematics, writing, and history. Social media is a staple in society now, and any information that can help and inform young people of its totality, should be presented to them as learning material.

The solution to this issue of the overuse (including to the point of addiction) and/or misuse of social media is not a simple one. So another idea proposes that the solution starts at home, with the parents of our youth. Parents must make the effort to educate their children on the world of social media. There is no way (unless taken to extreme measures) that anyone could stop a child from using social media if it is accessible to them. So, as stated by Gagan Deep, it must “be ensured that the teenagers get proper education about the negative effects of social media” (Social media and the mental health of teenagers: An insight.). Informing young people of the negatives of social media—like the possible effects, or the addictive nature of it—could help push them into making better decisions regarding their use of social media sites.

It is a cruel world we live in, but it can get even more cruel on the internet. Informing adolescents of the negatives of social media early on could save them from the vastly different and new world that is social media—or can just help them make the right decisions on those sites. Young people do not know what is truly in cyberspace for them to see. Therefore, more experienced users giving them information could prove very beneficial to their social media endeavors. The downsides to social media addiction, its misuse and/or abuse are too destructive, and it is your job as a parent to be the protector (or educator) of your child.

 

 

Annotated Bibliography

Carr, Caleb T. and Rebecca A. Hayes. “Social Media: Defining, Developing, and Divining.” Atlantic Journal of Communication, vol. 23, no. 1, Jan-Mar2015, pp. 46-65. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15456870.2015.972282.
This article gives the definition of social media, “new” and “old”. It also give facts about how social media has developed. I’m using this source to provide a definition of social media in my proposal. This is a reliable source because it is in an academic journal.

Deep, Gagan. “Social Media and the Mental Health of Teenagers: An Insight.” Indian Journal of Health & Wellbeing, vol. 6, no. 7, July 2015, pp. 741-743. EBSCOhost, libproxy.lib.csusb.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=109888119&site=ehost-live
This article talked about the relationship between social media and the mental health of teenagers. It also provided possible solutions to the issue of social media misuse. I used this source to talk about the effects of social media on the mental health of adolescents and took some of its solutions to build on. It is a reliable source because it is in an academic journal.

Ellis, William F., et al. “Internet Addiction Risk in the Academic Environment.” Information Systems Education Journal, vol. 13, no. 5, 01 Sept. 2015, pp. 100-105. EBSCOhost, libproxy.lib.csusb.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1137201&site=ehost-live.
This journal talked about the effects of internet addiction on people’s academics. It also gave a definition for social media addiction. I used this source to provide my proposal with a definition of social media addiction. This is a reliable source because it is an academic journal and was peer-reviewed.

Shensa, Ariel, et al. “Social Media Use and Depression and Anxiety Symptoms: A Cluster Analysis.” American Journal of Health Behavior, vol. 42, no. 2, Mar/Apr2018, pp. 116-128. EBSCOhost, doi:10.5993/AJHB.42.2.11.
This article talked about how social media use led to depression and anxiety in people. It gave information on how it affected people and how they found that data out. I used this source to write about how social media leads to depression and anxiety. This is a reliable source because it is in an academic journal.

Sriwilai, Kanokporn and Peerayuth Charoensukmongkol. “Face It, Don’t Facebook It: Impacts of Social Media Addiction on Mindfulness, Coping Strategies and the Consequence on Emotional Exhaustion.” Stress & Health: Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress, vol. 32, no. 4, Oct. 2016, pp. 427-434. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/smi.2637.
This article talks about social media’s effects on mindfulness. It talks about how social media could hinder people’s mental ability. I used this source to talk about how social media affects the mind. This is a reliable source because it’s in an academic journal.