With the increase of technology and social platforms, more teens are getting connected, which leads to an alarming increase of time spent online. The more teens use social media, the more addicted they become, which means more harm than good can happen.
According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in March and April of 2018, 97% of 13 to 17-year-olds use at least one of seven major online platforms, with 45% of U.S. teens agreeing they are online “almost constantly.” It is not a surprise that teens are becoming more connected. With current technological advances and the increasing accessibility of the internet, social media has become a part of the daily routine for most. Smartphones make it increasingly easy to access platforms at any time of the day, and most use social media to communicate with others without meeting them physically. This makes social media addicting because it allows users to connect with ease at their own comfort.
Teenagers are exposed to more as they increase their use of social media, and the content they are exposed to may not always be beneficial. There is highly explicit content ranging in multiple topics that are not suitable for a younger audience. As teenagers grow increasingly dependent on social media, there are higher risks of exposing them to this content. Take Youtube, for example. Youtube is a platform where many creators make content for others to view. One of the biggest influencers on this platform is Logan Paul, who has an audience primarily consisting of younger teens. In 2018, Paul released a video in which he showed a blurred corpse of someone who committed suicide in Aokigahara Forest in Japan. This video garnered over six million views before it was taken down. After the backlash Paul received, there were many younger viewers who came to his defense, calling his actions a “mistake.” This not only shows the exposure of mature content to young audiences, but also makes it seem that these actions are justified, which they should not be.
Advocates of increased use of social media among teens say that social media makes it easier for teens to communicate with others. Teens mainly use social media, specifically texting, to communicate with their friends. According to a report from Common Sense Media, “Convenience is the main reason why teens prefer texting, with 30% saying that they prefer it because it’s the quickest, and 23% because it’s the easiest way to get in touch with one another.” This, however, is difficult for some as most of the people around them are constantly connected to their phones. This can lead to tension in their relationships because both parties are constantly on technology, and lead the other one to do the same just to communicate. According to the same report from Common Sense Media, “Some teens describe themselves as ‘addicted’ to their cellphones and get frustrated with their friends…for spending so much time on their phones.”
There should be a way for teenagers to lessen their time on social media. One way could be meeting each other physically more rather than talking on their phones. Meeting other people and talking to them in person could both reduce social media intake as well as help teens interact with others. In a TED Talk, Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says, “You end up isolated if you don’t cultivate the capacity for solitude, the ability to be separate, to gather yourself.” She talks about how having solitude allows an individual to think about their relations with others, which is beneficial to teenagers of this current age. If people meet each other or have time for themselves to think without the distraction of technology, then they can strengthen their relations with one another without the use of social media, thus decreasing their use of technology.
Though social media has become an integral part of the daily lives of teens, the excessive use of social media can be harmful to today’s youth, so there needs to be a way to decrease social media use as a whole before others get addicted.