How Social Media Can Harm Our Lives (Essay Sample)

Internet users have vastly increased since Google first came out in 1998 with over 3.2 billion users. With all the knowledge in the world at your fingertips, the internet is a very exciting place with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These sites generate more than 500 million users, people who aren't necessarily popular in the outside world can find like-minded “friends'' who share the same interests or even reconnect with long-lost friends, with social media the possibilities are endless. But not everyone who uses these apps have your best interest, from predators who can steal your identity to your favourite model whose life only looks perfect on-screen, as a user you quickly learn that not everything is as it seems. The purpose of this paper is to present evidence from several kinds of research that were done by many scholars who have proved that social media can harm our lives.

One of the biggest predators on social media is called catfishers. In an article written by Jacob Amedie, he describes the term as “People who create fake social networking profiles, and "catfishing" is the process of befriending strangers online while using a fake or stolen identity.” (Amedie, 2015) There is a show called Catfish that helps people who are engaging with someone they have never met in real life. Each episode is about someone who wants to know whether or not the person they are in contact with is real or a catfish. Arnold Brown says that ”more and more people regard the virtual world as a place where they can establish and maintain safer less demanding relationships on their own time.” Online users are being sucked into a persona of a person that isn't even real and the biggest targets are teens and young adults. 

Amanda Todd is an example of catfishing, Amanda had shared some photos of herself to an online friend she thought she could trust and when the photos started circulating she found out that her “friend” was a middle-aged man who was using someone else's pictures. The bullying and torment she faced after that was too much to bear so she uploaded a video talking with flashcards about her story and then the 15-year-old took her own life. A book called Adolescents, Rapid Social Change, and The Law, shows readers that online altercations often result in sexual contact, and some studies report that 47.5% of these conversations are aimed at young adults and children. (Schulz et al. 2015) The book also states that in most cases regarding sexual exploitation on social sites, there is a dynamic relationship between the predator and victim. Adolescents can be deceived or at times willingly fall victim to online sexual exploitation (Wolak et al. 2008). 

There are serious mental health problems that come with social media because of the pressure that is put out there to get a certain number of likes and to have your life look a certain way. It can be hard to figure out who you are when the primary motivation for using networking sites is a need to belong and a need for self-presentation. There is a theory called the user gratification theory by Kalpana Srivastava, that emphasizes self-discovery, entertainment value, social enhancement, and the need to maintain communication through the construct of behavioural intentions. It says that excessive use of social media is considered harmful for one's mental health and well-being.

The link between social media and mental health is highlighted by researchers. A national survey of U.S. young adults found that compared with individuals who use 0 to 2 social media platforms, individuals who use 7 to 11 social media platforms have substantially higher odds of getting increased levels of depression and anxiety symptoms(Srivastava, 2019). The amount of engagement you receive from social networks may make a person feel more rejected by society and validate his/her poor self-esteem. A study of 100 FB users at a university indicated that individuals with lower self-esteem are more active online. 

Social media does have its benefits, if used carefully it is a great way to network, expand your business or just to meet new friends. Though, with over a billion users people have to be careful with what they post and aware of who they trust because networking sites aren't always better than reality. 


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