How is Social Media Affecting People's’ Social Interactions

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Technology has transverse a long road to deliver humankind clunky desktops of old to sandwich bar smartphones of today. Prior to the internet, computers served a much more utilitarian purpose such as typing. Computers didn’t stop there. Innovations breed innovations. The computer was soon followed by the internet and finally, smartphones. Smartphone is a loose word. Relatively, smartphone’s are a person’s portable computer. The world of communication has never been the same since. The social media world has been progressing rapidly since the late 90’s. Although only a fraction of what a smartphone is capable of, adolescence is notorious of using social media more often than most other functions of a cellphone. As new generations come, more and more people are becoming reliant on social networking. The question is apparent at hand: how is social media affecting peoples’ social interactions? Is there a cost? Through multiple studies, evidence heavily suggests that online networking has become a hindrance for people. For one, the internet is the new hunting ground for sex offenders; cyber bullying has become a problem for teens, conflicting with confidence in teens is affected by such social media. However, there exists a consensus that social media is completely evil, neither good nor benign. To what extent does the validity of this mindset hold? Several stakeholders are presented: media industries, parents, millennials and generation Z, and even online offenders. A closer insight for each stakeholder is needed to assess the contemporary situation at hand. First, a little background information is needed to properly analyze social media, the role it’s taken in society and what outcomes social media creates for young adults.

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The grandfather of social media was created in 1997, which allowed users to produce profiles and chat with other users. This was known as Six Degrees. Originally, according to an online blog known as Conference Call, social media has been around since 1979 where people were able to post news to newsgroups.

Although technically, social media traces back all the way to the 1970’s, it didn’t really resemble today’s social media until the late 90’s when Six Degrees was created. An array of social media applications has spawned drastically since the late 90s: MySpace, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Apropos, a majority of today’s generation already owns a cellular device, or at least has easier access to some form of social media. According to a research study conducted by the Pew Research Center, “75% of American teens ages 12-17 have a cell phone”, and this continues to grow more and more as access to devices becomes more accessible. Presenting this ever-growing demographic of young smartphone users enables people to see more of a chance of risk than benefit.

Danger is the ultimate fear. Fear plays people and controls their actions and for good reason. The online playground has set loose offenders of all kinds. Smart phones are widely used in today’s society which allows all age users to download apps easier than ever. A great number of people have noticed this potential risk and have put in effort to control certain outcomes. A televised example of a potential danger of social media is the show “Catfish,” where two hosts help individuals, mostly younger individuals, find their ‘true love’ through the internet and help them meet up with them in person. The term catfishing was coined to describe an online person who is masquerading as another person that is not actually them. Often time, this is a ploy is used by the offender. However, there appears a lesser incentive to regulate the social ramifications of social media.

Media industries are another interested party intertwined within the discourse. Social media industries are the distributors of popcorn media that people are consuming today. Their main presence as stakeholders is one of heavy bias due to their focus on spreading the range of their platform, thus profiting. A key aspect of their existence is marketing. A vendor may have the most delectable orange juice in all of human existence and barely sell any of it without a strong marketing strategy behind it. An example is Red Bull’s gives you wings advertisements, which has visually imprinted itself in whoever has had the misfortune of seeing it. Social media companies’ main goal is to profit, with little concern as to what they leave in their wake, as long it’s not illegal. Thus, public concern being altered by any type of concern would negatively impact ratings depending on the outcome of popular judgment. Worse, they may decline in participants in their apps. If individuals shaped negative spectacles towards the nature of these applications, it would likely result in the loss of revenue and jobs by extent. The perspective of various people such as the other stakeholders mentioned, like parents, millennials would reach the stakeholders within businesses of social media and prompt a change. The opposite also holds true. If no significant problem is found with these apps, then nothing would demand a change. With this issue being addressed and it showing the effects it has on different individuals both mentally and physically, it might make at least some individuals reluctant to participate in online activities or at least not as much.

As mentioned multiple times, social media industries make a fortune off of online users, and numerous people are finding social media as a new way to market or advertise their own personal companies. Although social media has its negatives to it, it also has its positives, and it’s up to the users to determine if it is worth the risk. With an increasing worry of children meeting potential offenders, parents have responded by more strictly monitoring what exactly their kids are doing behind a phone. It’s human nature to fear the unknown. Not knowing what’s beneath a bed allows the mind to crawl with ideas of the unknown. Likewise, a study done by The American Academy of Pediatrics also draws similar conclusions by stating in their report “… some parents may find it difficult to relate to their digitally savvy youngsters online for several reasons”, which highlights a technological grasp gap. In the generalist sense, younger people are more adept to using computers and smartphones due to having grown in a society that is heavily reliant on technology. Not all parents had that same luxury and find it tedious to try to understand technology. By nature, parents would be cautious towards their own using social media, especially given any amount of misconstrued information of them.

Concern arises out of fear not lack of sympathy. With all the concern running around about social media, there a great many parents who are content with it. Understanding the pace that the world changes is integral for those parents that wish to maintain a rapport with their children; everything has shifted online. Marketing strategists employ young people as conduits to perfect their marketing ability, a skill that could be useful to young person’s seeking a steady income. Whether parents are up against or for, the world is constantly shifting and children will need to face it. The final piece resides in the most crucial aspect to assess: adolescence. A crucial stepping stone to assess this stakeholder is best prefaced by: children, teenagers, and even young adults are highly malleable in their transitioning phases to adulthood. They are clay. Virtually, they are susceptible to being taken and molded in whichever way deemed fit. Criticizers target the stigma around an adolescent’s vulnerability to develop unhealthy mental illnesses due to their exposure to so much content; however, that same reasoning can also apply to those whom utilize social media as an outlet to reach out to adolescents in need. Highlighted in a psychiatry paper “Teens can learn more about their illness and receive reassurance or validation by joining awareness or support groups” states the apparent benefit to easy access of social media. Before the internet’s conception, reaching out wasn’t as easy as click tap click, people were left to the mercy of seeking out these help groups or not receiving help at all. Not all cases need be so extreme, nearly anyone can claim that having a person there to talk to in the wee hours of twilight is a comfort of its own.

Social interaction shuttled through space and reflected back towards Earth is not a poison, the interaction itself is a useful tool for connecting a piqued individual with another. Older adolescents such as teens and young adults can use this to their advantage. Though, the problems with social media is its heavy effect on adolescents. More in manipulation than causation when looked upon from a self-esteem point of view. Viewing people valued by so many through a piece of glass does begin to affect those that wish to be valued. Aspiring to attain those attributes that make those select few so beloved, only serves to further dislike who they are and prefer an imaginative self. The problems are exceptionally clear to anyone who keeps up with any news outlet. Any remedy remains elusive. Adolescence is wet clay, open to being mixed and molded into a structure that is difficult to rid.

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