Social media has made a significant change in the way individuals interact with each other and with themselves. The rise in social networking sites including Instagram and Facebook has seen connection and sense of community move online, behind a screen. Consequently, users of young generations are more likely to suffer from addiction-related social isolation, mental health issues including depression and life dissatisfaction causing further isolation, and identity crisis due to the over-sharing of others’ lives and less focus on their own. This paper will be exploring these ideas, and thus concluding; overuse of social media by young users in particular negatively impacts connection and does not promote community building.
Keywords: #socialmedia #socialisolation #mentalhealth #addiction #depression #anxiety #adolescents #connection #community
The advent of social media has revolutionised the way individuals interact and has arguably made it possible to connect with more people, and opened up a new world of discoverability and communication beyond what was possible with other traditional mass media platforms such as radio, newspapers, and television (Elmquist et al., 2017) prior to social media. The intention of social media, after all, was to bring people together as one giant online community. Though, now these ideas seem to be far from what social media has turned into. In recent years, this sense of community has shifted from an in-person notion, to predominantly online, as the rise of social media has seen more people interacting with each other online. In fact, as the online community is rapidly growing with social media, the idea of “community” is replicated online, and the real feeling of community outside of smartphones is slowly being forgotten (Twenge, 2013). The rise of social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram has consequently caused a rise in the level of social media addiction among its’ users, as well as a rise in the level of shyness experienced by millennials. Additionally, social media has created further concern about mental health issues among millennials due to its addictive nature and the social isolation it causes. With 73% of adolescents in the USA in 2015 having smartphones (Elmquist et al., 2017), it is interesting to think about the addictive nature of social media, and how it seems to isolate people from the outside world more than bring people together. Moreover, the potential link between social media and the mental health issues that millennials in early teens to late twenties seem to be experiencing in contemporary society than millennials of previous generations (Wongkoblap et al., 2017), thus leading to the question; is social media really “social”?.
Social Media Addiction:
The nature of social media and the internet is allegedly addictive for a range of people (Leung et al., 2020), and is a growing issue for millennials that can result in serious physical, social, and psychological harm (Ponnusamy et al., 2020). As Cain suggest, “While trends in drug and alcohol use among the millennial generation has decreased, the amount of time spent attending to smartphone activity is rapidly increasing, leading to some suggestions that those susceptible to addiction have simply shifted to a new drug: smartphones” (Cain et al., 2018). A study of social media addiction among adolescents in Urban China resulted in 15.6% of individuals in the test being classified as “addicted” to social media, which is concerning in itself. More alarmingly, the test then estimated that at least 20 million adolescents around China may have a social media addiction (Huang, 2013). Take a look at Instagram, for example, where over 500 million users are active daily (Ponnusamy et al., 2020). Instagram has been found addictive for young users due to obligation felt to meet recognition and social needs, consequently causing extended use of social media; addiction (Ponnusamy et al., 2020). Furthermore, similar social networking platform; Facebook, has been linked to higher level of shyness among active users, therefore users are more likely to interact over social media than in-person (Ponnusamy et al., 2020). Social media users may feel as though they are addicted to social media for a number of reasons, but this addiction could be largely due to the idea that individuals are never offline, rather they just have their phones locked sitting next to them, but will answer messages as soon as the notifications appear. Pew Research Centre propose that at least 24% of U.S. individuals in 2015 are online “almost constantly” (Pew Research Center, 2015), by having their smartphones on and constantly logged into social networking apps. Additionally, some video games including Fortnite and Minecraft have the option to link a chat room through PlayStation, which regards them as a type of social media. These games, in particular Fortnite, have been consistently considered addictive for individuals, leading parents to be concerned about their children (Haller, 2018). Along with the addiction among individuals comes isolation, whereby individuals can find themselves spending more time on their phones using social media and less time communicating with people outside of their phones; less social support or human connection (Flaskerud, 2020). Concerningly, as suggested by Sriwilai and Charoensukmongkol, it is not an unusual occurrence in current society to see people facing down towards their mobile devices, instead of up towards the world around them, to check their social media while walking or doing other activities (Sriwilai et al., 2015). It is not uncommon to see friends out at cafes or similar social environments not talking, but instead staring into their phones engaging with others through social media. Rather than physically connecting with people, individuals are beginning to prefer interacting through their devices, therefore losing touch with their community (Sriwilai et al., 2015). The community on social networking sites including Facebook and Instagram is creating addiction among millennials, giving them the opportunity to hide behind smartphones, and increasing the difficulty in connecting with others.
Mental Health and Social Media:
Mental health is rapidly becoming one of the most common public health issues in contemporary society (Wongkoblap et al., 2017), and with social networking sites, social isolation and poor mental health are mediating each other. With growing concern about social media use and abuse, some links have been found between social media use and mental illness such as depression, sleep problems, anxiety, and low self-esteem (Cleary et al., 2020). Additionally, a study of adolescents showed a higher rate of depression than other age groups, particularly individuals with less social integration (Flaskerud, 2020). When people are faced with mental health issues, for example depressive symptoms, they often tend to lack social connection or isolate themselves (Quach, 2020), which could explain the link between poor mental health and social disconnectedness. Millennials are the social group with the most concern, as they are more likely to suffer from social media-related mental health issues (Flaskerud, 2020), and their generation has been growing with smartphones and social media, whereby they find this type of “social” interaction more natural compared to those of older generations who already established in-person connection without social media through most of their life (Cleary et al., 2020). For many, social networking sites including Facebook and Instagram are commonly known to show the “highlights reel” of others’ lives due to the formatting of the sites as image and text-based, and can leave users feeling left out, dissatisfied, and unworthy (Watson et al., 2017). In fact, excessive use of Facebook may result in other disorders such as narcissism and anti-social behaviour (Watson et al., 2017). Furthermore, lack of in-person social integration from heavy social media use can be linked to depression and other mental health concerns (Flaskerud, 2020). Mental health issues, particularly in younger generations, such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem could be the consequence of heavy social media use, thus further isolating individuals from one another and their community.
Identity Crisis and Social Anxiety:
Moreover, social media has the potential to cause social anxiety and identity confusion or crisis for adolescents in their prime ages of social and cultural formation, making social connection awkward and difficult (Elsayed, 2021). Social media platforms, in particular Instagram, gives users the opportunity to present themselves on specially curated profiles, along with giving users the opportunity to view others’ lives and social identities. In some ways, this can be seen as a form of positive self-expression, though can cause confusion and insecurity for the viewing adolescents in critical stages of their growth, who are still finding their identities and contemplating their future (Elsayed, 2021). A study conducted on 200 male and female students, aged 15 to 18, interestingly found that 68.67% said “they are still thinking about their future because they wish to resemble the lifestyle of their friends on social media” (Elsayed, 2021). This may suggest a link between adolescents with high engagement in social media and identity confusion, resulting in potential to find social and cultural formation awkward, as well as finding difficulty in creating relationships and connections outside of these platforms. Furthermore, adolescents who engage highly in social media activity are found to have lower self-esteem than others with less engagement or emotional investment (“Use of social media associated with poorer sleep quality and low self-esteem in teenagers.”, 2015), and with the suggested importance of self-esteem in engagement in social settings, lack of it could result in decreased interaction with communities outside of social media (Bang, 2021). Lack of self-esteem and personal growth driven by negative effects of social media networks may result in increased difficulty for younger generations to build relationships with people in their community.
The introduction of social media into society has been responsible for a false idea of community and social revolution, and has detrimental effects on younger generations who engage highly with it. Social media is marketed as the best way to communicate and be social with family, friends, and discover new communities online. Though, networks such as Instagram and Facebook have created a society that doesn’t support community building, but rather an antisocial society of users addicted to the feeling of social recognition over social media, subsequently causing increased shyness (Ponnusamy et al., 2020). Through social media-related addiction, users tend to voluntarily disconnect themselves from the outside world, avoiding real connections, thus making community building more difficult (Flaskerud, 2020). Additionally, social media networks have the power to produce mental health issues in young adolescents, including depression and decreased life satisfaction through the unrealistic ideals that are presented on these platforms (Watson et al., 2017), which could result in users isolating themselves from their community instead of using social media to connect further with their community (Quach, 2020). Furthermore, networks on social media can cause insecurity and identity confusion in heavy users, especially those aged 15 to 18 who are contemplating themselves and their future, due to the nature of platforms over-showing others’ lives (Elsayed, 2021). Consequently, young users who suffer from social media-driven self-esteem issues are less likely to engage with others in their communities (Bang, 2021). Altogether, social media has the potential to positively impact the lives of its’ users if used properly with heavy education about the harmful effects, such as mental illness and addiction. Although, in the direction that society is currently going, social media is facilitating social isolation through addiction and mental health issues in young generations, thus not benefiting community building or personal connection.
Bang, H., Won, D., & Park, S. (2020). School engagement, self-esteem, and depression of adolescents: The role of sport participation and volunteering activity and gender differences. Children And Youth Services Review, 113, 105012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105012
Cain, Jeff, EdD., M.S. (2018). It’s time to confront student mental health issues associated with smartphones and social media. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 82(7), 738-741. https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/gw?url=https://www-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/scholarly-journals/time-confront-student-mental-health-issues/docview/2120666330/se-2?accountid=10382
Cleary, M., West, S., & Visentin, D. (2020). The Mental Health Impacts of Smartphone and Social Media Use. Issues In Mental Health Nursing, 41(8), 755-757. https://doi.org/10.1080/01612840.2020.1748484
Elmquist, D., & McLaughlin, C. (2017). Social Media Use Among Adolescents Coping with Mental Health. Contemporary School Psychology, 22(4), 503-511. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40688-017-0167-5
Elsayed, W. (2021). The negative effects of social media on the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work. Heliyon, 7(2), e06327. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e06327
Flaskerud, J. (2020). Loneliness, Social Isolation, Morbidity and Social Networks. Issues In Mental Health Nursing, 41(7), 650-654. https://doi.org/10.1080/01612840.2019.1705947
Haller, S. (2018, Dec 09). ‘This game is like heroin:’ fortnite addiction sending kids to gaming rehab. USA Today (Online) https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/gw?url=https://www.proquest.com/newspapers/this-game-is-like-heroin-fortnite-addiction/docview/2153290806/se-2?accountid=10382
Huang, H. (2013). Discussion and Conclusions. Social Media Generation In Urban China, 125-143. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-45441-7_8
Leung, H., Pakpour, A., Strong, C., Lin, Y., Tsai, M., & Griffiths, M. et al. (2020). Measurement invariance across young adults from Hong Kong and Taiwan among three Internet-related addiction scales: Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS), Smartphone Application-Based Addiction Scale (SABAS), and Internet Gaming Disorder Scale-Short Form (IGDS-SF9) (Study Part A). Addictive Behaviors, 101, 105969 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.04.027
Pew Research Center. (2015). Teen, social media and technology overview 2015. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/
Ponnusamy, S., Iranmanesh, M., Foroughi, B., & Hyun, S. (2020). Drivers and outcomes of Instagram Addiction: Psychological well-being as moderator. Computers In Human Behavior, 107, 106294. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2020.106294
Spekman, M., Konijn, E., Roelofsma, P., & Griffiths, M. (2013). Gaming addiction, definition and measurement: A large-scale empirical study. Computers In Human Behavior, 29(6), 2150-2155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.05.015
Sriwilai, K., & Charoensukmongkol, P. (2015). Face it, don’t Facebook it: Impacts of Social Media Addiction on Mindfulness, Coping Strategies and the Consequence on Emotional Exhaustion. Stress And Health, 32(4), 427-434. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.2637
Twenge, J. M. (2013). Does online social media lead to social connection or social disconnection. Journal of College and Character, 14(1), 11-20. http://dx.doi.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1515/jcc-2013-0003
Use of social media associated with poorer sleep quality and low self-esteem in teenagers. (2015), 30(4), 15-15. https://doi.org/10.7748/ns.30.4.15.s18
Watson, K., & Slawson, D. C. (2017). Curbside Consultation: Social Media Use and Mood Disorders: When Is It Time to Unplug? American Family Physician, 96(8), 537-539. https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/gw?url=https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/curbside-consultation-social-media-use-mood/docview/2454236616/se-2?accountid=10382
Wongkoblap, A., Vadillo, M., & Curcin, V. (2017). Researching Mental Health Disorders in the Era of Social Media: Systematic Review. Journal Of Medical Internet Research, 19(6), e228. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.7215
Quach, L., & Burr, J. (2020). Perceived social isolation, social disconnectedness and falls: the mediating role of depression. Aging & Mental Health, 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2020.1732294
20 thoughts on “Anti-social media: how the rise in social media could be the cause of social isolation among younger generations”
I definitely enjoyed reading your paper and found it quite informative and thought provoking. I agree that the heavy use of social media today can contribute to individuals feeling isolated and potentially having mental health problems. I personally think to avoid this awful outcome from social media, schools should teach young people on how to use social media in a healthy way to avoid addiction and also teach them how to use social media for activism and social change.
Social media is extremely powerful when it comes to activism and creating awareness about social change and injustice. Currently across the globe, there has been hundreds of thousands of people posting and creating awareness about the injustice that has been going on in Palestine. From this spread of awareness, social media users have had access to contribute, donate to charities and organisations that help and benefit the country.
Let me know if you agree about having programs set in place within schools to inform children and adolescents of how to healthily use social media.
Hi Scout! I enjoyed reading your paper about how social media can affect someone’s mental health. Me myself ever experienced the time where I felt that social media was to toxic and decided to deactivate my Instagram account . One ever said that in the past the internet is the escape from the reality, while now, real life is the best escape from the social media toxicity.
My question is, apart from people becoming anti-social. Many believes, since I got several friends who become social media influencer. Social media is said to be the stimulator of them to become more active and boost up self confidence because social media gives them many lesson, and increase their self confident to show themselves up, leading to many people finds new ‘circle’ from social media who then become their hangout mates. Whats your comment about that?
I totally agree – real life is slowly becoming the escape from social media, as previously it was the other way around.
I think that social media influencers (and other social media users) can find great benefits in social media through creating relationships with others and meeting people from all around the world. I don’t argue that it can connect people in this way. Though, I believe that the negatives outweigh the positives in this situation – does everyone use social media to find new friends? And in finding new friends on social media, do they hang out in person more than they speak/interact online? I don’t think so.
Additionally, social media influencers are part of the problem, and can be the exact reason for people to become less confident offline. Many papers in this conference have outlined this problem, including Celine Sceresini’s (2021) about Influencers and Identity Formation.
Thanks for reading my paper!
Sceresini, C. (2021). Social Media Influencers and Identity Formation. https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/29/social-media-influencers-and-identity-formation/
I agree that the younger generation these days are addicted to their mobile device which then can lead them being anti social.
What if someone is insecure / shy to interact with the offline world and they find the online world to be much more comfortable for them? Do you think that the communities that these individuals created online can lead them to form an offline community?
Thank you !
If you have time, feel free to read my paper regarding about how social media can help individuals who are suffering from mental illness: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/27/how-social-media-has-had-a-positive-influence-on-community-and-broadened-communication-across-communities/#comment-3212
I do think that social media can feel like a ‘safe place’ for people suffering mentally, but I’m not sure that hiding behind a screen will help this, especially if they’re insecure, in which case maybe it would be best for them to try to come out of their shell? Due to individuals not being used to forming relationships offline, this may bring opportunity for them to feel more social anxiety. As said by Ponnusamy et al. (2020), extensive use of Facebook and other SNS can increase levels of shyness.
Hope this helps!
Ponnusamy, S., Iranmanesh, M., Foroughi, B., & Hyun, S. (2020). Drivers and outcomes of Instagram Addiction: Psychological well-being as moderator. Computers In Human Behavior, 107, 106294. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2020.106294
Good afternoon Scout, I apologise in advance for not being properly logged in, there seems to be an issue staying logged in at the moment.
I know it is the last day of the conference and commenting this late will not leave you much time to respond, however, I’d like to take a moment to at least comment on your paper because it is fairly interesting and well written.
My paper argues for the benefits of social media, specifically Facebook, and how the ubiquity of the platform and its pervasiveness allows for the formation of tight-knit and diverse communities . There have been a few papers I have read, including those by authors Amelia Owers  and Taj Powell  argue on the negative aspects of social media. Yours is the first paper I’ve read that argues that people overuse social media, something I myself am guilty of.
While my paper asserts the benefits of social media communities, I have only considered so far the disadvantages that can be addressed by tightening restrictions on the sort of harmful content that often slips through the cracks on different platforms. The overuse of social media isn’t an issue I have come across yet or tried to think of a solution for.
One statement you’ve made really made me think about social media addiction and when we might consider it an addiction as opposed to merely a problem. You mention people’s tendency to be logged into social media on their devices and while not actively using them, the device can be picked up and notifications and messages addressed nearly instantly. While I was reading this section, I thought to myself, maybe this kind of overuse is not all that common? And then I had a notification on my phone from Facebook… And immediately picked up the phone to check what it was about. While I wouldn’t consider myself as having an addiction, I recognize that I probably am a bit too connected to my devices.
I wonder then, what solutions you might consider tackling the problem of social media addiction? Could it be a case of restricting social media use to some audiences? Or working to shift attitudes towards social media use? Or is there an underlying problem that causes young people to turn to social media? Maybe it’s a form of entertainment when they perceive that nothing else is available? Or maybe some young people have trouble connecting with their peers at an earlier age and turn to social media instead? Its a very interesting topic and opens several avenues for further study.
Thank you again for sharing your paper.
Thank you for your purposeful yet humorous feedback. I am very passionate about social media addiction, and that is purely because I have self-diagnosed myself with it in the past, and have then recognised that it is not healthy and did not make me feel good about myself or my life.
I genuinely can’t find much researched information as to why adolescents tend to over-use social media and consequently, become addicted. Due to this, I can’t come up with an exact solution.
From my own opinion though, I believe that it may be beneficial to educate children from a young age on safe social media use, and like I’ve mentioned in other replies to my paper; educating on the warning signs of addiction. I don’t believe it is possible to completely restrict children from using it (as that may cause them to try and rebel).
I’d love to know what you think!
Thanks so much for the invitation to read your paper when you commented on my own. I certainly found it a fascinating read.
You are correct in that I had not considered the effects on younger social media users when I wrote my paper around existing in communities online – my examples were purely adult interactions with the internet. Social media use as an adult with the benefit of having existed without it is very different to the teens of today who have never known anything different. Couple this with emotional immaturity during a time of massive growth and self discovery and I can see from your paper how problematic this can become. I found this statement of yours particularly poignant, “Social media users may feel as though they are addicted to social media for a number of reasons, but this addiction could be largely due to the idea that individuals are never offline, rather they just have their phones locked sitting next to them, but will answer messages as soon as the notifications appear.” It had not occurred to me that this generation has lived their entire lives in a social media consumed world, and how could this not effect their interactions, and reliance, on it?
As teens we are still learning about limits and boundaries, hopefully with the aid of our parents. As you mentioned, previous issues which required guidance for teens may have been alcohol or drug related amongst others, but with the advent of social media and its epic power, both for good and bad, similar attention should be paid. We cannot expect teens to use social media responsibly and to monitor their own mental health in relation to it if we do not give them the tools to do so, or are not doing this ourselves. Hopefully a future focus on increased education on this issue can help to curb the decline in the mental health of teen social media users.
Thanks so much for bringing this issue to my attention!
Thanks for reading my paper and sharing your understanding of my points. I think it is so extremely important that parents educate their children on the damaging effects of social media and monitor it, as that is something that the adolescent simply cannot do themselves at such a young age. I also agree that we can’t expect them to monitor their own mental health as currently there is not enough education for young people about the warning signs of declining mental health – maybe this is something that can be a focal point; educating them about how social media can impact their mental health for the worse.
Again, thanks for your feedback!
I share with your concern that excessive use of social media via smartphones have resulted in people getting addicted to it. Often, you can see family members dining out at the cafe and looking down at their phones instead of talking to each other. This is not healthy and bad for interpersonal or in-person interaction. When the young people start working later on they may not be able to socialise and interact well with their colleagues face to face, thus, unable to build good working relationship with one another. Perhaps, this is the negative impact of social media that our community needs to pay more attention.
Awesome paper Scout! I loved the perspective that you were conveying throughout this and agree with the points being made. As with everything there are two sides to any argument and while social media has given people a way of communicating at an accelerated pace, we are losing the quality of the interactions. Humans are by nature compelled to create communities and sharing information is an instinctual trait for our survival however, the facade social media has created of interaction and socialising is really just a way of packaging another form of daily life into consumable deliverables.
Every aspect of life seems to be trending toward this economised and gamification structure, where I think it is vital for the education of how these products operate. Facebook, Instagram and every other social media platform can be used in great ways and I think we have all seen the positive attributes it offers us, however, the lack of understanding in the way these platforms actually function as marketing and data platforms is relatively un-talked about. I myself have seen the affects of these platforms and have learned to use them in moderation and identify aspects for what they really are without letting them have too great of a negative impact on my identity and mental health, this wasn’t always the case however and now I am glad to see the multitude of peers and other people who are similar in age to me posting and sharing their thoughts on these topics.
It is alarming to think about the vastly different landscape adolescents are growing up in now, although, I do believe that there is a change in the way people are perceiving social media. We are beginning to give it more weight in daily life and we are seeing its affects, social media is no longer this harmless pass time and is now a mainstay in daily communication and interaction. I doubt these platforms will ever change however, I do think the average user will become more informed and the social capital and impact on identity will decrease as these platforms lose their value in the way they impact our direct presentation of identity. People are beginning to remove the rose tinted filters they view digital identity through in turn making people more inclined to share more genuinely which is a step in the right direction. Although it will never reverse the digital landscape, our ability to navigate it will improve.
I loved this paper and would love for you to check out my paper if you have time! I wrote a paper on instagram influencers and how social capital has turned average people into influential figures, in turn altering their perception of self and causing them to sacrifice morals and values in pursuit of success, leading to the success of fast fashion which has detrimental affects on the sociological and ecological aspects of the world. https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/27/instagram-influencers-and-their-complicated-relationship-with-fast-fashion-james-von-kelaita/?fbclid=IwAR02wJ-FI5jytrxCFoPRFUFdL3Xu7IMsGVdD47DhLxCPxY_g4G-_15y1SEA
What an insightful paper.
More often than not people talk about how amazing online communities are, and I don’t disagree that they can be! But I have friends who would rather talk via social media than an actual phone call or in person. I have found that some people I know find talking about difficult things in their life online, easier than in person.
I think we can be blind to the fact that social media is consuming and may cause unconscious isolation. Upon talking to an older gentleman at work just today, it seems that perhaps older generations can see this and we are more oblivious to it.
Do you agree that we younger, social media consumed individuals may be more oblivious to this? And do you think that there is a way to combat this addiction when social media and technology are becoming larger parts of our lives than ever before?
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed reading my paper.
I think that growing up with social media has made us feel like this is normal – and in some ways, it is. This is the only way of living we know. For this reason, I think that it may make us more oblivious of the harmful effects of social media unless personally faced with one of these problems (mental illness or addiction), or being informed continuously about the effects.
Personally, I think that growing up in a household where social media use from a young age was always managed by my parents (to a certain extent) really helped me gain useful knowledge about combatting it in my own life and not giving in to it. So I believe that maybe this could be a way that it could be dealt with – raising awareness and use management for adolescents.
Did you ever have seminars at school with industry professionals that talked about cybersafety etc? Same concept – but about raising awareness about how to use social media in a healthy way (as it is not the enemy), detrimental affects of social media, and how to spot the warning signs of addiction etc.
I, like you, was brought up using social media, being the first born, this was perhaps to my parents dismay as it was almost like you had to get Instagram to fit in. When my younger brother got his social media accounts I was the one to set them up for my parents and teach him safety online as I almost had to learn myself. Perhaps online communities were safer when I first set up social media accounts because I hardly ever saw sexual, scamming bots, etc.
We only learnt about cyber safety in class, maybe in one special assembly for an hour outside of the limited in class lessons. Other than that we only had a one off short talk with a police officer about sexual content on social media.
I think perhaps a yearly chat within schools would be beneficial to remind and teach adolescents about safety, addiction and self-esteem in relation to online posts, as social media is ever evolving.
Your topic was very interesting and your paper was enjoyable to read. I’ve always found the linking of social media and mental health/isolation strange but your paper has helped me make sense of that. We didn’t have social media and smartphones when I was in school (they blossomed just after I graduated) but I struggled with anxiety and autism and so never interacted with anyone at school and had very poor social skills. It was only in my early 20s that I began learning how to socialise and connect with people—after joining social media and finding communities for things I was interested in. It was helped me keep connected with people who I would otherwise not communicate with due to my anxiety. I suppose it can affect ‘normal’ people differently, particularly with the “obligation felt to meet recognition and social needs” which are needs that I don’t really have. I think it really depends on why and how people are using social media.
I fully agree that the addiction of smartphones is a problem—I barely put mine down and I’m not even looking at social media! I’m not sure I agree that it’s the smartphone that is preventing people from noticing the world around them and engaging with their offline communities, though. When I was a kid people always had a cigarette, a newspaper or a book to ignore the world around them and I think it’s just human nature to find a distraction. I also find the addiction to the “highlights reel” nature of news feeds to be an issue and I can see how younger people can feel unworthy if their lifestyles don’t match that of their friends or those around them. I suppose young people felt this way with magazines in the past but it’s much easier to feel ok seeing a celebrity living a lifestyle you admire and know you can’t have due to their celebrity status than seeing all your peers living ‘reasonably achievable’ lifestyles.
I looked at another negative side of social media communities in my paper about how filter bubbles and echo chambers reinforce negative beliefs if you’d like to check it out: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/25/how-filter-bubbles-and-echo-chambers-reinforce-negative-beliefs-and-spread-misinformation-through-social-media/.
I really enjoyed your paper as it was music to my ears. So often you hear people promoting how amazing social media is but you have placed an alternative spin on it.
Indeed, technology is the drug of the 21st century! It might be better for our health in regards to organs but mentally it can be detrimental.
I would tend to agree with your comments and the USA study quoted in your paper that ‘social media tends to isolate young people rather than bring them together.’ I mentioned elsewhere that I work with youth 14-16yrs and interestingly when delivering outdoor education programs to these young people I confiscate their mobile devices for the entire day. On occasions there is downtime throughout the day, its generally times like this where you would see people both young and old turn to their devices for comfort/entertainment. But these young people actually engage with each other in conversation and activity during their free time because the “drug” is not available to them.
It frustrates me that so many schools allow students to have their devices at school. I do not see this necessary or beneficial to the young persons education.
It’s clear that youth these days lack in social skills and one would have to question whether the 21st century ‘drug’ is highly responsible for the decrease in their ability to develop social skills. Take for example a person with social anxiety or autism, I struggle to believe that communicating behind a screen is assisting these people to build strong (true) social skills in the long run.
However, social media is everywhere and often we are forced into being a part of it just to achieve a personal goal and/or fit in with society. For instance, some of us students within this conference didn’t even have social media accounts but in order to complete our assessments we were required to create an account and join the world of social media. Will this be the start of those students becoming addicted to the new ‘drug’?
Thank you for an insightful read.
Thank you for your reply. I’m happy to see that you enjoyed reading my paper and agree with the points that I have raised.
It’s great to have a first-hand perspective from you on the way you experience youth spending time on their devices at school. I agree, school is the place for learning and not for distractions (such as smartphones and Ipads). I understand the technological breakthroughs in recent years making learning more engaging for students, though it doesn’t sit right with me that this technology could become potentially addictive and distracting for students in a place where they are supposed to be learning valuable skills and information.
I am looking forward to reading your paper.
Your argument was well written and obviously researched in depth. I enjoyed reading it. It is a problem that many people deal with. I know for myself it can be easy to spend hours scrolling through social media but not making any connections. It was a surprise though to read how many people are addicted and how it affects their health.
I believe social media can be both a healthy and unhealthy place for people. It can do damage, but on the flip side it can help support people with mental health. In my paper, I concluded that because LGBT teens are often isolated from support and connections in their “real life” they have high rates of depression, however finding other teens like themselves helps them not feel alone and gives them access to vital information.
Thanks for reading my paper. I agree, even I find myself mindlessly scrolling for no reason, which is why I chose to engage with this concept in my paper!
I’m looking forward to reading your paper and seeing how it puts a spin on my argument.
I found your paper fascinating as the argument here seem to be almost directly contradicting my own. I talk about formation of new, virtual communities, and with a more optimistic lens, while you have analyzed the adverse impact of social media on existing communities, that is, how difficult it is for young people to become socialized because of how they are exposed to unrealistic standards affecting their mental health.
Any new technology brings with it a host of problems, and it is evident with the amount of research on the negative impacts of gaming and social media addiction. Personally, I go by the golden rule of ‘excess is bad,’ as I have also seen the positive side of virtual community, be it gaming or social media, on various platforms.
Overall, I am glad to get an alternative perspective that I feel almost balances out my own.