Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Middle schoolers today have been aware of social media their entire lives, many dipping their toes in the social media waters as early as 3rd grade.
“During the past decade, online social networking has caused profound changes in the way people communicate and interact,” stated a study entitled “Online Social Networking and Mental Health,” by Dr. Igor Pantic.
The study connected heavy social media use with symptoms of depression and low-self esteem in teens. The National Center for Health Research (NCHR) indicated that Over 40% of adolescent girls and over 20% of adolescent boys use social media for three or more hours per day. They also mentioned the most popular social media platforms: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
The NCHR study,” Social Media and Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Mental Health,” also discussed cyberbullying as a major problem with social media. Cyberbullying is bullying that happens online. Victims, the article indicates, usually aren’t able to forget about cyberbullying because it stays on the internet and is hidden from adults who can help.
“The pervasiveness of new media has created an increasingly complex environment for youth, parents, health care providers, and policymakers to navigate,” said the North Carolina Medical Journal (NCMJ) in their article, “The Impact of Social Media on Youth Mental Health.”
As the NCMJ points out, adolescents are particularly vulnerable because nearly 1 in 5 suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder. Add to that the likelihood that social media can become addictive, though different studies disagree on this issue.
Additional problems related to social media use include concerns over writing skills and attention spans. Tennessee State University sponsored a study connecting sentence patterns, grammar, punctuation, and word choice used in social media and how often they crop up in academic writing. My Tutor, an educational website in the U.K., also expressed concern about short attention spans. The article,” The goldfish effect: why social media shortens our attention span,” was written in 2013, when social media use was less prevalent than it is now.
Social media may not be all bad, but there are definite problems to be aware of when choosing to use this form of communication. Awareness of these risks is the first step to responsible use of these platforms.