Although we all love our technologic devices and they can be wonderful a good part of the time, they do have their down sides to them that we should be aware of. There are several aspects of social networking that are negative and create issues and distressing situations for its users. Our whole lives depend on and revolve around our cell phones, Ipods, computers, and most importantly, what they offer: a source of social media. Seeing as social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, chat-rooms, and Tumblr just began to surface around nine years ago, their importance to us and our dependence on them has escalated vastly. In Canada, social networking sites consume on average 3.2 hours of a person’s day, displaying just how big of a part they have grown to be in our lives. Individuals are being sucked into this way of communication that they are being told is necessary and vital in our everyday lives.However, they are not fully educated and are unaware of the risks associated with it.The negative issues I feel that are most predominant in social networking and harming our society are interpersonal communications, bullying, and the breach of privacy. These dangers to users create a huge impact on the growth and future of the users of these networking sites.
Social Networking allows youth to be able to communicate with each other without having to interact in person; these interpersonal conversations create several issues and potential problems for the user.Due to this lack of personal face-to-face communicating, it affects the users communication skills; “consequences of this are social awkwardness and even social anxiety” (Earnest, Andrea). When you do not have to physically interact and communicate with people, it alters and affects your natural ability to maintain a conversation. Anxiety towards in-person conversations as well as awkwardness during interaction is the result of the user being too accustomed to just conversing through a screen. With social skills being such an important ability in our day-to-day lives, this could affect the user’s future in certain fields of careers, with interviews, and can also lead to serious cases of social anxiety.
Along with effecting your social skills, interpersonal communication is also “altering teens’ behaviors and normal tendencies” (childrefuge.com). Teens are constantly trying to fit in and be apart of the ‘popular’ group. When they are hidden behind a screen, it is much easier for them to change the way they act to make others perceive them differently. Whether it be talking a certain way, saying certain things, or doing something they normally wouldn’t, the online environment creates an atmosphere that changes the morals and usual behaviors of an individual. Having the screen there gives them this allusion that whatever is being done can’t be seen, so there is no problem with it and nothing will go wrong. In many cases however, these conversations between users can and will go wrong. One of the many situations that occur and is a present issue in youth today is the capability to ‘post’ and send pictures for others to see. As previously stated, there is this belief that because there is an Ipod, or cell phone, or computer blocking the face, there is somewhat of a protection, or that all actions seem to be justifiable. When they begin to send pictures of themselves, of their bodies, or even of someone else, they are creating situations that are dangerous and inappropriate. Decisions like these clearly provide evidence that social networking sites and the presence ofinterpersonal conversations are affecting the normal tendencies of individuals, their behaviors, and are leading to several other issues.
With interpersonal communicating over social networks it has also created a whole new level and degree of bullying. Bullying has always been an issue, especially in teens, and since the availability of social networking sites, the bullying rates have increased immensely. Dany Morin (NDP MP) describes it as, “cyber bullying on social media is at a ‘breaking point’” (Pedwell, Terry). It has been taken to such a level that is ‘deadly’ for children. This form of interaction has given bullies a sense of security that it is okay to tease and torture other people; that they won’t get caught and that it does not affect anyone. Due to this mind-set being created, the amount of youth being cyber-bullied is in unbelievable! In the last year, “43% of teens aged 13-17 report that they have experienced some sort of bulling” (internetsafety101.org).
The effects of bullying over social media sites can harm someone drastically, as can be seen in the recent suicide of a young 15-year-old girl that occurred as a result of hurtful words and actions taking place online. It all started when “a man contacted her on facebook, threatening to send around the picture of her topless” (Grenoble, Ryan). After this incident, the teasing and tormenting began to get worse and worse at school, and this online predator wouldn’t give up. It all quickly broke down what little self-esteem she had left, and about a year later, the headlines of all news sources were, “Amanda Todd, a Vancouver-area teenager posted a story to YouTube about being cyber bullied, was found dead” (Grenoble, Ryan). Feeling there was no other solution to her problems, Amanda turned to suicide. This is just one of many stories of children being broken down by the harsh words and tormenting occurring online. A whole new level of bullying has been created that is affecting individuals in our society at a rate that is uncontrollable. It is evident that social networking is and has created these horrible situations of bullying that are occurring between users of these online sites.
These networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, also like to try and assure us of our privacy. They tell us that all of our information is not shared and is secure; this, however, is a lie. The privacy breach of these sites is very disturbing; the information that you place on sites can be seen by millions of people. Whether it be your friends or complete strangers who have found you online, everything you put out there is open for the public to see. With strangers and sick-minded people in the world and online, giving out any personal details or having pictures available is very unsafe. With little information people are able track others down to very specific details. This is how individuals such as sexual predators are lead straight to their victims. In a study it was found that 28% of social network users, “shared all, or almost all of their wall posts with an audience wider than just their friends” (www.consumerreports.com). This statistic displays the amount of possible victims at risk, and all due to the fact that they are an unaware that their ‘statuses,’ ‘tweets,’ ‘posts’ etc. are all available for anyone to see.
If strangers and sexual predators having access to all your information isn’t enough, your future employers, insurers, and college/university admissions officers also do too. “Insurers, employers, and college admissions officers…use social media to evaluate people, (they) turn to a service…that scours public postings on facebook and other social networks” (www.consumerreports.com). This is definitely a shocking statement considering the importance of these people’s opinions and decisions concerning us. When youth are putting anything on their social network sites, they aren’t thinking forward about who might or could potentially read or see what they are releasing. The content which is found of an individual from these sites will and can sway an employer, or anyone else’s decision or opinion towards the person. It was found in a survey that “69% of human-resource officers have rejected job applicants based on social media reviews that turned up” (consumerreports.com). This statement proves that the information distributed online is present and available for others to see and could possibly affect your future. Although social networks continue to try and make us feel safe and secure about what we are releasing online, it is truly a huge privacy breach and can cause unsafe and stressful situations for the future.
The dangers that are associated with the use of social networking sites is quite terrifying. The possibilities of the outcomes which could occur to oneself truly makes you re-evaluate the importance placed on these sites, as well as the amount of time that is spent on them. It is important that we understand and become educated on the several issues that these online sites can create so that we can prevent their occurrences.
So my challenge for you all is to do some research and become a little more aware of the sites you use, and to be safe when you do use them, that way we can all remain safe and happy! 🙂
Miss Teen Bruce County World 2013