The Effects of Social Media


A. Hoch

For better or for worse, how has social media affected us?

A. Hoch, Staff Writer

The effects of social media are real, and we’ve all experienced it.


For teens and young adults all over the world, social media has become their life, we’ve been sucked in. The addictive media seems almost like a drug at this point. We are all guilty of either posting every little piece of our daily lives or watching every little piece of someone else’s, because that’s just the norm, right? Sadly so.


By sharing and updating your life on the internet, you risk security. You never know who is on the other side of the screen, driving to the location you just posted you were at, or even saving your photos without your permission. Social media is dangerous and we need to do our best to stay safe.


Every year, countless abductions, sexual assaults and even murders trace back to social media. About 2 weeks ago, I received an amber alert for a young 14 year old girl Savannah Childress. I remember talking about it with my family and how we were all so concerned because it seemed that the authorities had absolutely no information at the time. After about a day or so it was revealed that Savannah had been communicating with a man through her school computer. That man being her kidnapper. After further investigation, police found out there had been many other young girls messaging this perpetrator unknowingly. Remember the phrase “Don’t talk to strangers”? I know it sounds cliche, but that phrase could have saved Savannah. Let it save you.


“What you post on the internet never goes away.” Another quote we’ve all heard from parents, teachers and “old people” that seems silly and stupid. It’s not, it’s true. By posting something inappropriate, violent, or threatening you risk not getting into college, losing your job or not getting one in the future, and saying goodbye to all of your hopes and goals for the future. An article by TheMuse gave a specific example where someone was denied employment due to something they put on social media. One reason mentioned was that a man was wearing a swastika in his profile picture. Even though we are free to express opinion on the internet, something so hurtful and disrespectful should not be shared. Open racism or discrimination have been more recently becoming a large factor of social media.


With that being said, sharing some personal opinions on social media might not only hurt your future but friendships and relationships as well. Politics have taken over our generation almost completely. Campaigns and candidates use the media to promote, lie, and manipulate us. Referring to the followers, we or they are so quick to judge and break bonds when it comes to differing political preferences. A single post can change your viewpoint on a person completely. An article by Pew Research Center says that 55% of US social media users are “worn out” by political posts and discussions. It is also mentioned that it is not just one specific party doing the damage, “both Democrats and Republicans are equally as likely to describe these disagreements as frustrating or say discussing politics with someone they disagree with reveals that they have less in common than they thought. For example, 71% of Republican users say in this new survey they have found it frustrating and stressful to talk politics with others on social media that they disagree with, while a similar share of Democratic users (69%) feel the same way.”


However, with all of these dangers and downsides, social media has actually had some positive impacts. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram have been great advocators for more recent injustices and controversies. Users are constantly active when it comes to speaking up and voicing opinions. The promotion of positivity is encouraged through social networks as well. Movements like body positivity have been supported by celebrities and young girls all over the world. Creating comfort and realism is a move in the right direction. After years of photoshop and cyberbullying we are finally starting to see kindness online. Other positives include, quick easy communication, access to news and current information, and opportunities to promote work.


It is no secret that there is a dark side to the internet. The best we can do is stay safe and be smart. Take into consideration your feelings and others when posting, understand consequences, and keep your location private. Use social media to help our world, enough harm has already been done.


For more information on ways to be safe online check out the National Cyber Security Alliance.