Negative effects of social media on youth | Sunday Observer

Negative effects of social media on youth

19 December, 2021

In societies throughout the world, social media use has become a deep-rooted necessity, regardless of age, social class, educational level, or employment status. Virtually, the majority of people in the world have become almost addicted to some type of social media platform, particularly when it comes to socialising online. Also, social media has turned out to be a compulsory requirement in the business world all through the globe.

The term, social media is known as an internet-based technology that aids sharing of ideas and information through virtual networks and communities. It offers users to create content, exchange or deliver substance, share information, and other forms of expression.

According to sources, there are twenty-seven active online platforms available in the world currently and a substantial increase of active users was reported since the breakout of the pandemic from early 2020. Out of this number, the top five platforms used in Sri Lanka are Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Tik Tok, and YouTube according to several sources. However, several other less known applications in Sri Lanka as yet that are also exploited by the 7.9 million social media users in Sri Lanka, counting 36 percent of the total population.

With the rapid continuation of the increase in the use of social media platforms all over the world, there have been concerns about these networks and how they impact the youth. In Sri Lanka, experts in disciplines such as education, medical, and specifically psychological behaviour are closely looking at the negative effects of the use of social media by the young generation. According to the information available to this writer, the harmful consequences of social media considerably highly supersede advantages and benefits.

Global village

No doubt that there are numerous benefits in the usage of social media platforms. Social media has reduced the world to a global village. People have the opportunity to interact with others in any part of the earth with a click of a button. It has fostered empathy, allowed speedy communication, made business communication easier, immensely helped to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic, and given many other benefits to societies. There were more than adequate intellectual discussions of the positive impacts of social media.

Nevertheless, on the flip side, social media is an unregulated arena that has no form of morals or laws to follow. Youth, most often from the ages as young as ten years are dangerously exposed to completely explosive and volatile substances. These include murder, sexual content, gun usage, nudism, and other similar inappropriate material.

In Sri Lanka, the largest population of social media users is of ages between 13 and 24 years according to experts. This type of unwelcome content can attract these youngsters easily and the long time consumption of such content can lead to serious mental repercussions. At a young age, whatever they experience through content, particularly through images can be solidly registered in their minds.

Moreover, excessive social media use leads to addiction. There is more than adequate evidence to prove that people seated next to each other, even known people, do not make attempts to have a conversation when engaged with the screen. Young children spend their spare time either playing video games or engaging with peers or friends through social media for long periods. This phenomenon poses a serious threat to social interaction and seems to escalate further in the future.

The addiction to social media through disproportionate usage can lead users to uncontrollable obsession. In the process, youth can get trapped with unwanted or fake responders who are usually strangers most often. The biggest danger is that there are tricksters who attempt to impress young participants with false information to lead them in the wrong direction.

Financial gains

Such people do these dubious exploits either for financial gains or sometimes just for fun. The danger is that the innocent naïve children assume that these images, posts, or videos are real and attempt to follow fake substances, which may lead to serious psychological issues.

The use of social platforms, when misused or abused, is risky and often frontiers of crime. Cyberbullying is a major issue and menace in social media. Parents and adults must keep teenagers safe from this gruesome act committed by children or adults for reasons that cannot be explained. Research reveals that only one in ten children inform or discuss cyberbullying with parents or other trusted adults.

Cyberbullying is the deliberate, persistent, and malicious use of words, images, or video clips in an online environment. The intention is to cause harm to others’ well-being. Bullying amongst teens can come in many forms. The most common are intentionally harmful and hurtful text messages, spreading false rumours, images sent to humiliate and embarrass, threats, and creating a fake online profile to intimidate.

The danger is that a young child can have complex consequences if the situation is not managed properly. The negative effects of cyberbullying can cause many issues including lack of interest in studies, increased stress and anxiety, feeling of isolation, depression, fear, and so forth. Experts say that in extreme cases, cyberbullying can even lead to suicide as well.

Although social media interactions connect more people and make them stay updated, it can lead to social separation and loneliness. By engaging in social media for long periods reduces face-to-face exchanges amongst youth. According to many research papers and studies, social isolation can create a number of complications on physical, emotional, and psychological issues. Social media exposes young children to online predators operating throughout the world. These criminal elements entice youth to various despicable online games, dubious competitions, and many other nefarious activities. Of them, perhaps the most dangerous is the manipulations of sexual misconduct through pornographic content. Naturally curious youngsters can easily be misled and they tend to experiment with these acts.

Addiction to social media decreases productivity among youth that can diminish self-dependency.

By being in a fake and unrealistic dream world, the natural creativity of a child is severely affected. Studies have revealed that when it comes to learning formal subjects in school, children who are engaged in social media have shown a clear sign of reduced productivity and they are dangerously lagging behind others.

Establish controls

The teachers can do very little once a child is obsessed with social media.

Hence, it is the duty and the responsibility of the parents to keep monitoring the child from the instance he or she lays hands on an electronic device. Constant, firm, and strict monitoring by the adults is vitally essential at home. It is not easy to establish controls when the children are in their adolescence. Unbalanced supervising can cause more resentment that can bring about animosity inside the family.

If the monitoring of the activities when a child is on the online platforms is not managed properly, he or she might become more stubborn and disobedient. Hence, the parents must approach this situation with extreme caution and perhaps with guidance from exerts if and when possible.

Parents must guide and advise their children on current matters, particularly the repercussions of the misuse. Children must be emphatically warned about the possible negative impacts of overusing. A proactive program to educate students at the junior school level on proper usage of social media can be extremely effective at this juncture.

Albert Einstein, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest physicists of all times once said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass human interaction, the world will have a generation of idiots.” The statement is controversial and interpreted in different ways in the world.

However, this writer’s personal view is that the contents of the quote are realistic.

Therefore, unless otherwise the upcoming situation with youth is not looked at tediously immediately, the consequences will be grave for future generations. The wrong usage of social media can create a large segment of people in society who are without empathy, sympathy, insensible, and anti-social sentiments.