Online or Offline: Social Networks Affect on Adolescents and Teenagers' Health.
"There are more than eight hundred million users accessing Facebook regularly, and roughly four hundred twenty five million accessing the site through their mobile devices"( Pilieci par.14). Facebook and other social networking sites are increasingly popular among adolescents and teenagers. Adolescents and teenagers use Facebook to communicate with friends and share interests , but fail to realize it can affect their health. With adolescents and teenagers spending so much time on social networking sites it is not surprising that recent studies are showing that social networking is affecting their health. After having done extensive research on this subject, the main reasons that social networking has a negative effect on adolescents and teenagers' health is that it has shown to cause risky behavior, depression, anxiety, and narcissistic behavior.
Conversely, some people feel that social networking sites can give adolescents and teenagers a place to turn to for advice and support when they are going through challenging experiences. Additionally, in an article titled Why aren't you on Facebook ?: Patterns and experiences of using the internet among young people with physical disabilities; it states that for children with more than one disability or a disability that makes it hard to communicate outside of online the internet may provide a place online to communicate with people in a way so that they can express themselves and their interests (Lawry par. 3). Also, some experts feel that social networking sites provide a healthy way for adolescents and teenagers to build friendships that share the same interests (Barnes par. 5).
The biggest effect that social networking has on adolescents and teenagers' health is that it influences teenagers to have risky behavior. In an article titled, Are Social Networking Sites Turning Teens into Substance Abusers? It tells the reader statistics about how much more likely teenagers are, to drink or smoke after being on Facebook or social networking sites than teenagers who do not go on social networking sites. An example in the article it says, "teens that use Facebook on a daily basis are three times more likely to drink alcohol and twice as likely to use marijuana than those who do not use Facebook " (Jaslow par. 2). By teenagers' using Facebook and other social networking sites more frequently today than ever before, the effects of this risky behavior on their health is quite horrific. In the same article, it states that when teenagers see pictures on social networking sites that show other teenagers getting drunk, using drugs, or passing out, they are more likely to have risky behavior compared to teenagers who have never seen these type of images on social networking sites. In an article titled Teens Divulge in Risky Behavior on Social Networking Sites, it describes a study that a professor at the University of Wisconsin: Madison performed that selected 500 random profile pages on MySpace that had their age listed as eighteen ( Gordon Par. 4). In that study it was found that "fifty four percent of the profiles included information about risky behaviors like underage drinking and smoking, and forty one percent reported information on substance abuse and the remaining fourteen percent posted violent information"(Gordon Par. 9). Therefore, risky behavior is a known negative health effect of social networking on adolescents and teenagers.
The second biggest effect that social networking has on adolescents and teenagers' health is that it can cause depression. In an article that is titled Are you suffering from Facebook Depression ?, it states that a doctor in a recent study discussed that when teenagers see that their friends have more social friends on social networking sites than they do, they begin to question if they are really liked or if there is something wrong with them (Mittman par. 4). In an article called, The Effects of Social Media on Children, it states that as teenagers use social networking sites more frequently," Their level of content can decrease , and their likelihood of getting in trouble or being depressed can increase" ( Barnes par. 8). In another article that is titled Is Social Media, harming our mental health ? , it talks about how a pediatrician named Gwenn O' Keeeffe in the Boston area developed the phrase "Facebook Depression" which she included in the new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines," these guidelines are used to help parents who are raising children in a growing electronic world" ( Pilieci par. 20). The fact that Social Networking sites like Facebook have such a large impact on adolescents and teenagers to cause depression, can be scary for the parents of these children who develop depression from social networking sites. Therefore, depression is another known negative health effect of the use of social networking sites on adolescents and teenagers.
The third biggest effect that social networking has on adolescents and teenagers' health is that it gives them Anxiety. In a recent article titled Social Media is Causing Anxiety Study Finds, it states that in a recent study released by non-profit Anxiety UK "over half of the social media sites polled said Facebook , Twitter and other social networking sites have changed their lives… fifty one percent of those said it has not changed for the better" (Fitzgerald par. 1). With this, a large amount of people using Facebook feels that it has made their lives worse and not improved their life. Also, In that same article it says " If you are predisposed to anxiety then the pressure from using the technology might act like a breaking point causing additional anxiety to feel more insecure and overwhelmed" ( Fitzgerald par. 8). In addition, adolescents and teenagers that develop anxiety from using social networking sites may become Anti-social from having bad experiences with people online. In fact, social networking sites call out to teenagers when they are not "online" making them feel the need to see what others are doing. Therefore, anxiety is another known negative health effect of the use of social networking sites on adolescents and teenagers.
The fourth biggest effect that social networking has on adolescents and teenager's health is that it can cause them to be more narcissistic. Additionally, narcissism is when a person responds to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation, and may try to take advantage of others in order to achieve their own goals. In an article that is titled, Is social networking harming our mental health?, a professor at the University of California told the results of a recent study that he performed "teenagers using Facebook have more narcissistic tendencies, while young adults using Facebook show signs of psychological disorders"( Pilieci par. 22). Concerning this, with teenagers' continuously developing narcissistic tendencies by using social networking sites daily it affects their life when they are not on the social networking sites and still feel the need to take advantage of others to achieve their own goals. Additionally, I use the following social networking sites: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, sites like these make communication easier for younger people and make it easy to share interests, but at the same time, I can understand how it reinforces narcissistic behavior in adolescents and teenagers, because they have a large opportunity to judge what others post and say about themselves. Teenagers and adolescents who spend a majority of their day on social networking sites critiquing the lives of others and "liking" pictures and statuses of all the fun things they are not doing is not good for their health. Therefore, narcissism is another known negative health effect of social networking on adolescents and teenagers.
Seventy percent of teenagers spend time on social networking sites every day according to a survey (Jaslow par. 4). Furthermore, adolescents and teenagers are attracted to Facebook and social networking sites just like moths attracted to a bright light at night, flying to see the light but being burned for staying too long. A study that surveyed two hundred fifty people ages eighteen to eighty five and found that the desire to check their Facebook or Twitter account was only surpassed by their desires to have sleep or have sex ( Pilieci par. 33). There will always be a debate about whether the negative health effects of using social networking sites outweigh the positive, but as it stands today it causes adolescents and teenagers to perform risky behavior, have anxiety and depression and be narcissistic, which all negatively affect their health.
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