The Dangers of Social Media

There is no doubt social media has made an impact on society. However, that impact comes with a serious price.

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The Dangers of Social Media

Image by Pixelkult from Pixabay

Image by Pixelkult from Pixabay

Image by Pixelkult from Pixabay

Tanner Hoyal, Guest Writer

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Students at Williamsburg are no stranger to social media. Sites and apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter dominate our daily lives. As of March 2019, there are over 1.5 billion daily Facebook users. That’s a huge percentage of the entire world population. With so many people on Facebook alone, there is no doubt social media has made an impact on society. However, that impact comes with a serious price.

An estimate of 210 million people are suffering from Internet and social media addictions. Additionally, teens who spend five hours on their phones are twice as likely to report depression symptoms. The symptoms of social media addiction are serious. The long list of symptoms includes sleep disorders, being overweight, lack of physical activity, low success in school and work, feelings of guilt, anxiety, dishonesty, depression, low self-esteem, loneliness, headaches, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. As you can probably tell, social media addiction is not to be taken lightly. If left unaddressed, the issue will only get more prevalent as time goes on.

You may be wondering why social media addiction develops in the first place. The answer is dopamine. Whenever someone receives a notification or text on social media, this triggers a chemical in the brain. A quick rush of dopamine makes the user feel good for a few seconds. To some extent, social media operates the same way drugs do. The rush of dopamine from likes and comments keeps people coming back to social media. Real-life experiences are sacrificed to check on a digital bell that may or may not contain a new notification. It’s hard to break out of the habit of constantly checking social media feeds. Taking a break from the Internet usually results in a kind of social media withdrawal. Ever reached into your pocket just to pull out and glance at your phone? You may have fallen into the trap of social media addiction.

Now that we are familiar with the dangers of social media addiction, what can we, as a society, do about it? The first step is to educate the public on the psychological effects of social media. While there are beneficial aspects of social media, the populace must also be aware of the dangerous side. Spreading awareness about social media addiction is a simple yet effective way to keep people informed. Additionally, encourage people to take a break. Social media “fasts” are becoming a more common practice as people realize the damaging effects of spending too much time online. Liberating oneself from social media is a healthy and empowering act. If taking a solid break from social media usage is too intimidating, try disabling notifications; that way you won’t be tempted to reach for your phone every 10 seconds because of constant buzzes and dings. Additionally, try spending more time outside with “IRL” friends. Hiking, shopping, dining, or going to a theater with friends are all much more enjoyable activities than sitting at home alone in front of a screen. All in all, I believe the most effective way to avoid social media addiction is to just delete your social media accounts.

I’ve only covered the negatives of social media so far. Even I admit that social media is good at times. I feel that social media’s true potential is enhancing real-world connections instead of replacing them. Keeping tabs on friends and family who live far away is a great way to use social media. Additionally, social media is great for organizing and planning real-world events with friends. Social media is beneficial once we realize that it is a tool and not a toy. If we all stay in control by using social media moderately, I honestly feel modern society will improve.

Let’s face it: social media addiction is a real issue. Society needs to address the issue before it’s too late. By spreading the word, taking a break, disabling notifications, and using social media as a tool, I feel we can overcome social media addiction. In conclusion, remember to put the real-world first.

 

Sources

“123 Amazing Social Media Statistics and Facts.” Brandwatch, www.brandwatch.com/blog/amazing-social-media-statistics-and-facts/.

Brown, Jessica. “Future – Is Social Media Bad for You? The Evidence and the Unknowns.” BBC, BBC, 5 Jan. 2018, www.bbc.com/future/story/20180104-is-social-media-bad-for-you-the-evidence-and-the-unknowns.

“Social Media Addiction – The Facts and Solutions of a Common Trend.” Addiction Resource, addictionresource.com/addiction/technology-addiction/social-media-addiction/.

“The 8 Social Media Addiction Statistics Everyone Needs To See.” Mediakix, 9 Apr. 2018, mediakix.com/2018/04/social-media-addiction-statistics/#gs.8fd4ws.

“Top 20 Facebook Statistics – Updated April 2019.” Zephoria Inc., 24 Apr. 2019, zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/.

Waller, Phoebe. “Simple Ways To Combat Your Social Media Addiction.” Bustle, Bustle, 17 Dec. 2018, www.bustle.com/articles/144893-7-ways-to-stop-your-social-media-addiction.

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