Is Social Media Ruining Teenagers?

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Elsie Riester, Co-Multimedia Manager/Web Master

Social media plays a big part in most teenagers’ lives. Normally, one wouldn’t go on their phone without scrolling through TikTok, checking Snapchat, or liking someone’s post on Instagram. People absentmindedly post comments and like or dislike posts, when in reality, they don’t often stop to ask, just how toxic is social media? Every day, kids and teenagers are exposed to cyber bullying and harassment by anonymous individuals. This can also be connected with the amount of time that they spend on social media.

Every day, teens spend hours at a time on their phones, sending messages and scrolling through apps that could potentially be very harmful to their mental health. Studies show that it’s common for teenagers and even younger kids around the ages of  8-12 to have access and full control of their very own social media accounts. Sure, there are age restrictions on social media platforms, no matter how popular, but are they even effective?

Countless kids have effortlessly found their way around the age restrictions for social media. They require little to no information to get past, and even the simplest things, like a person’s name or birthdate can’t actually be verified. 

So how many kids under 13 are joining social media, and what’s the big deal about it? An article from CNN says, “Separated by age range, 80% of all teenagers (ages 13-18) in the group had their own social media account, compared with 23% of all tweens (ages 8-12.)” 23% of kids ages 8-12 is a large percentage. 

Age restrictions on social media were made to follow the USA’s COPPA laws, which stands for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. While social media is already a lot more dangerous than it may be perceived,  it’s worse for kids who haven’t even started maturing to be on these platforms while completely oblivious to the problems it could cause. There are many ways that other users of social media could take advantage of a child on social media with it going unnoticed and unreported.

Another big issue that is faced with social media is cyberbullying. There is almost always an option to make an account private on social media, but no matter what, cyberbullying can still occur. According to liberties.eu, “Various studies have shown that a high use of social media increases the likelihood of people feeling anxious, depressed, or lonely. It has even been shown to increase the risk of self-harm and suicide.” 

Sure, some people might argue that social media isn’t completely toxic, and that there are some good parts to it. For example, there are public figures who support many things such as suicide/mental health awareness, climate change awareness, body positivity, etc. Along with public figures promoting positivity, social media can encourage people to socialize and make friends by sharing common interests like gaming, art, writing, etc.

There are many positive sides to social media, but there are still some major problems with it. Along with the increasing number of underage kids who are using social media and cyberbullying, there are other dangers that kids are exposed to. These dangers social media users being exposed to inappropriate and upsetting content. It could lead to revealing private or personal information, being pressured to send disturbing photos or messages, and much more. 

These problems have been going on for so long, and there isn’t much of a solution. The most that people can do is spread awareness and properly educate their children about the dangers of social media, and how to handle it.