Is Social Media Having A Positive or a Negative Impact on our Lives?

Ah, social media. What would a phone be without a social media platform installed on it? What would life be like without it? We all probably have some kind of social media on our phones, whether it be Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook (adults I’m looking at you) and many more. People spend hours retweeting, re-sharing, posting and snapping on their phones – and you probably find it really fun and a good way to spend your time.

But there’s another side to social media. A side where more people are becoming increasingly self-conscious, where people’s self-esteem is dropping below sea level. Why?

We’ve all seen those photo-shopped pictures of supermodels posing, with their perfect bodies and perfect faces. It’s easy for a lot of us to laugh it off, knowing full-well it’s fake. But it’s not so easy for the people with low self-esteem, people who might be teased about their weight or looks in real life. When they see these photo-shopped images it’s a trigger to eating disorders, to anxiety, to depression. And these images are shared all over the place.
It’s no secret that people can be mean. But with the introduction to social media, people are even meaner. They can hide behind mean words, sat away typing furiously at a keyboard. They can say whatever they want. Snapchats disappear after a while. And while comments can get taken down, and screenshots can be taken to sort it out, those words have still been said and they can’t be taken back.
It’s very easy to cyberbully on Snapchat, especially as stories and snaps etc. disappear after a while. And while you can get screenshots, the person who posted or sent it sees that.
You’re most likely no stranger to logging on to your social media, planning to look at a few photos or reply to a few comments. And next thing you know, hours have gone and all you’ve done is stare at a screen. Not only is that just pointlessly wasting time, it’s time you could spend doing work, or getting things done. You also have the element of poor concentration, because even though you may have the work out, you’re constantly getting distracted by your phone or laptop. It’s even worse in schools where children are allowed their phones out, because then they just go on social media.
And we all know about people sending things they shouldn’t and it gets shared everywhere.
Research has shown us that too much screen time can actually have an effect on behaviour. It’s a sensory overload, and that can lead to anger, a bad temper, a hard time managing stress and difficulty controlling moods.
Because people spend so much time on social media a lot of people end up going to bed late. And tiredness, particularly in teens, leads to anxiety, moodiness and a bad temper.
Social media also leads to superficial relationships, such as internet friends. And while there’s nothing wrong with making friends over social media (after all, that’s why it was invented), sometimes it can have an impact on the child’s social life outside of the house. Yu also have to be careful of people pretending to be someone they aren’t. After all, how can you really tell?
On the topic of safety, while there’s been a clamp down recently on making children internet safe, there’s still a lot of people with 1,000 odd followers (a lot of whom they won’t know). And there’s a feature on some social medias where you can put your number or email up on your account – and anyone can click on it.

But social medias not all bad. There are quite a few good aspects to it.
You have a wider range of information access (this applies to the internet as a whole also).
People can, and do share nice messages and spread kindness. While there’s mean people, there’s also nice people on social media who offer encouragement and kind comments that not only boost self-esteem but also make people generally happy.
On that note, it can actually give people confidence. More and more people are encouraging people to be happy with themselves and happy with their life.
For some people, it’s almost a form of self-expression where they can share about their passions. Artists who share their art, photographers who share their pictures, makeup artists who share about their makeup. People can show the world what they’ve done and created, and receive encouragement back.
It does also offer a wider range of communications. For example, if you have a friend whose number you don’t have, you can contact them on the social media messaging space (i.e DM, Messenger).
You do also meet more people through social media, such as internet friends, or even friends you lost touch with.
You also get more opinions on things, such as products or debates. Things like this can stop people from getting scammed and buying a fake product, or stop you from wasting money on a product that’s not even worth it. You may also get more opinions on debated, opening you up to a whole world of insights and thoughts on things that you may never have thought of before.
It also aids people to spread the word about different things, such as sending important hashtags go viral, such as #BringBackOurGirls. It’s spreading the word that helps aid people and societies less fortunate than others.
Let’s be honest, social media is pretty fun. It’s really fun to watch funny videos or funny posts that just make your day. It’s also just nice to talk to people, or to post pictures, share funny things and just have a laugh.

So, is social media having negative or a positive impact? Really, it could swerve either way. While there’s the low self-esteem, cyber bullying, time-wasting, behavioural effects, superficial relationships and poor safety side of it, there’s also a kind, encouraging, funny, wide, opinionated and general good experience side of it. And there’s a definite rise in the nice things said and the nice things that happen on social media.
In reality, the bad stuff is never going to go away fully, but more and more nice things can and are happening on social media.

By Evelyn Kitson

About Carol Lopez