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Negative Effects of Social Media on Communication Skills

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Social Media, although it not may seem like it, it is still somewhat of a nuance to society and still evolving. The word “social media” is defined as “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking”. Social media varies in many different forms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and many others. Today, about seven out of ten Americans use social media to engage with others. Social networks such as Instagram, are mainly used among teens or adolescents. Technology is advancing at the speed of light. It is becoming bigger and better everyday. It is making a great impact on the way we carry out our daily tasks. It has become the sole channel of communication for many of us . Social media is not only a tool of communication; it is a tool for connection , providing a way to talk to friends and family who do not live near us. At times it provides access for meeting new people yet, social media has become acontroversial topic of conversation. Often, society sees social media from a positive point of view, and never looking at it from a negative aspect. As much as it is denied, social media has many negative effects towards adolescents. This can bring society to thinking how social media can effect the methods of communication and behavior on society. 

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Overall, an examination through the social, historical, and psychological lenses will display how social media affects adolescents skills of communication and behavior. Negative effects of social media impacts on communication skills and their behavioral skills because teens have lost empathy, self worth, and communication skills.

In order to fully grasp the effects of social media, one must fully understand the development of these issues. The start of social media was around 1970s when the internet became a big thing. However, it was not until the 1980s, and 90’s that computers became the normal, which set the stage for the rise of social media. The emergence of blogging in the 1990s helped start social media. The idea that anyone could log on to the internet and write about what they were thinking, feeling, or doing, and that could be read by anyone at any time, assisted people in beginning to realize the full significance of the internet. It slowly evolved into platforms that have influenced our lives tremendously. In 2002, social media sites such as LinkedIn evolved. Three years later, around 2005, social media infiltration in the United States was just five percent, and most did not know what is was. This just meant that the history of social media is a brief yet tumultuous one. It is arguable that social media has great negative effect on teens and understanding the history of social media will help better recognize the changes occurring.

In 2016, Facebook was the most used social network and had a high possibility to greatly impact teens emotions. Social media has led adolescents become less empathetic, almost emotionless. Social media is turning this generation into one of the most antisocial generations. It is rapidly replacing the human companionship of physical and emotional support we once planted in each other with this virtual connection. Joanne Wilson, a Neuropsychotherapist and writer for Sunshine Coast Daily, highlights the issue of “phubbing” (the practice of ignoring one’s companion or companions in order to pay attention to one’s phone or other mobile device), and how it affects not only us but our loved ones. In the article he mentions “This shocking behavioral phenomenon is also a real world ‘thing’. This dreadful ‘technoference’ means those most important to us could be in deficit of the emotional attentiveness they deserve”. Not only is social media harming teens emotions, but also it is harming the emotions of those who matter most. Today teens are so obsessed with their phones and social media they don’t realize the harm they are causing their loved ones. Wilson noticed the effects of this issue so he decided to put it upon himself and created a relationship therapy. Wilson’s therapy incorporates couples or families to assist in making their own personalized rules to restrain social media permeating to their relationships and using it to boost their connection (Wilson). This issue will progressively get worse if teens do not start to contain themselves from the use of social media.

Unfortunately, social media has negatively affected the way teens perceive themselves. Teens are engulfed in objectifying themselves instead of perceiving their true self and value. This then leads to a change in behavior. Psychological therapist Mika Simmons, explains that the over use of social media detaches teens from their “real self”. [Simmons also mentions teens have lost perception of what one posts online is not who they really are. It is a “virtual identity”. Social media takes away self-control from the capability to think freely. Instead, it makes us foolish to join any group that posts contradictory messages that tickle our ear and charm our senses without realizing the consequences. Psychologist, Kathryn Wilson presented findings of a study showing that adolescents who have a higher use of social media tend to develop addictive tendencies towards its use which led to a change in personality or self-esteem. The change in personality traits and self-esteem led to adolescents having a loss of self worth. They became not as accepting of themselves and only cared about being like others, showing off their bodies. Teens have become so addicted to social media that their disproportionate internet use leads an individual to feel lonely or lack the normal social skills. This excessive use may in turn lead to the development of an internet addiction, resulting in further detrimental effects. Additionally, a recent study at UCLA has shown that teens looking for validation from social media become intoxicated by obligation, sometimes sending “compromising” photos. Social media is destroying adolescents self-control, which in turn destroys their ability to think critically. Homayoun then concluded that using open-ended questions can help teens identify and develop their own values and standards not based off social media. In the end, a teens online choices and behaviors can have great impact psychologically.

Social media has also affected the ways teens act or communicate. Communication is broad topic. To narrow it down, social media has greatly affected teens because they forget how to listen to each other, how to be humble, how to make eye contact with another, or how to abstain from the use of verbal abbreviated language. Social media allows teens to post harsh comments (things they would never say face-to-face), and keep their anonymous status. Teens no longer have self control or humbleness due to this “anonymity”. Social media addict, Richard Dennen shared his experience of how social media affected his communication skills in an article by DailyMail. Dennen goes on to explain how he was sitting at the Vanity Fair Oscar Viewing Dinner, in the “most glamorous night” of his life, he was not paying attention to what was happening. Instead he was on social media looking at what others weredoing, ignoring the important events around him. Instead of conversing with others and taking in the experience, Dennen was on his phone, checking up on everyone else. He began to realize how much of a drag it was becoming on his daily life. Today, many grandparents stillcommunicate in the “old fashion” way. No texting, social media, just face-to-face communication. Mental health counselor, Colette Lopane, spoke to a group of sixty-to-eighty year olds and they knew 80% of what she taught where teens in high school did not and were mesmerized by such information. This was due to the high schoolers being on social media so often. Adolescents today communicate via text or social media where as the older generations communicate face-to-face instead.

With a large portion of the world using social media daily, there is new evidence that displays social media offers a varied experience for each individual and in some cases, those experiences produce positive results. Social media allows others to connect with families and friends. It offers an easy way to keep in touch maintain relationships with those who are beyond our proximity. Social media also provides a way for introverted adolescents to meet new people, as it may be an easier way for those introverts to engage contact with new people. As much as a blessing social media may seem, these negative effects still exist. They will not go away unless adolescents or even society begin to change ways. Face to face relationships are suffering, adolescents developing brains are suffering and communication will soon end up being non-existent.

Since the beginning of social media time, it has evolved into something we would have never imagined. It has been detrimental to this generation and the generations to come. Adolescents have lost the aspect of proficiently communicating with one another and no longer know how to behave in a normal social scene. The relationship between social media useprovides connectedness with others, while face-to-face communication provides both connectedness and avoidance of social isolation. However, if teens are trying to avoid socialisolation, use of social media may derange existing relationships and replace time with empty online connections with strangers. In order to resolve these harmful effects of social media, society needs to realize their addiction. Possible solutions could be self restraint from social media or being part of a group with similar values or intentions. However, this solution does have limitations as it is hard for adolescents to have self control and learn to communicate.  

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