Social media is a platform that I’m sure almost everyone is familiar with; it’s a great tool for communicating to parts of the world one could only dream of interacting with, you can speak with friends or family when you wouldn’t otherwise be able to and you can be part of a seemingly infinite virtual worldwide community. Sounds too good to be true, right?
While social media may appear to be a sanctuary of worldwide communication, the younger generations in particular miss out on developing proper social skills and instead rely on online communication instead of face to face contact. This hosts a variety of problems ranging in severity from miniscule to unbearable. Teens and young adults alike may likely fall victim to feelings of isolation or abandonment if the people they frequently communicate with are offline. People who rely excessively on online methods of communication can develop a range of mental disorders ranging from withdrawal and addiction to depression or anxiety, which, if left untreated, can be problematic or even fatal in extreme cases. Unrestricted online access puts the user at a higher risk of cyberbullying, a problem which can, in some cases, be worse than its face-to-face counterpart.
Because cyberbullying can happen from anywhere, at any time, from anyone and without the risk of immediate consequence. Another problem faced is anonymity, which prevents any form of justice or consequence to the bully and can have devastating effects on their victims. Unrestricted access to websites may expose the user to dangerous, harmful or inappropriate content, this issue is especially relevant with small children being able to access the internet without parental supervision and stumbling across vulgar or inappropriate content that may cause a negative influence. This is normally shown by small children talking about such things or swearing because they’re too young to comprehend that it’s wrong.
So how can we stop this? I hear you ask. Well, the sad truth is that we can’t. We can’t control what goes onto the internet and we can’t control how people act towards others. However, we can control how we use it and how we let our children use it. Like getting over any other addiction, it takes a long time and a lot of self-discipline, but you can start by deliberately reducing social media use or flat out deleting social media applications on your electronic devices. You can insist on face to face communication with your friends if you can, or call them, as calling is more personal and ‘human’ than texting alone. And, if you must use social media, administer self discipline to keep yourself in check, take time away from your phone and get outside, interact in person with people, and enjoy the world as is before it gets dominated by technology.
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