Social Media and Teenage Lifestyle
In our modern era, social media has become an essential part of an adolescent’s life.
These Social Networking Sites (SNS) are various web-based platforms that allow people to create profiles, interact with friends and family, share photos and information, play games, and chat through instant messaging (Einarsdóttir, 2015). Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Myspace, Twitter, virtual worlds (e.g. Club Penguin and Sims), video sites like YouTube, and blogs are all examples of social media networks or SNS’s (American Academy of Paediatrics, 2011).
Social media helps youngsters stay connected and meet a wide variety of new friends. Useful information can be exchanged and quality research is easily accessible for homework projects and assignments. Oftentimes, SNS’s provide good personal advice and information for this critical developmental period of adolescence. However, in recent years the use of social media has been on the increase and according to author Rachel Emkhe, “Experts worry that social media and text messages have become so important to teenage life that they are promoting anxiety and lowering self-esteem” (How Using Social Media Affects Teenagers).
Adolescents can become addicted to the use of social media. Psychological problems such as anxiety, low self-worth and depression may occur and several risk factors are associated with teen use of social media. Teenagers identified as SNS addicts remain on these sites late into the night, which causes less sleep per night and poor sleep quality (Einarsdóttir, 2015). Shortage of sleep can cause teenagers to become tired, irritable, depressed and more likely to catch colds and flu. As a result of SNS addiction, teens often lack in participating in healthy recreational activities (e.g. sports, outdoor activities) and reading valuable material (e.g. newspapers, novels). According to Carroll and Kirkpatrick (2011), several risks are associated with the use of social media by teens, which include cyberbullying (threatening, harassing, or humiliating communication from another teen), texting/sexting (sending or receiving sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or messages), dangers of sexual predation (when an adult makes contact with a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activities), and privacy violations (when teens are unaware that their information is at risk of exposure to third parties like advertisers). Social media has contributed to the leakage of many adolescent ‘sexual tapes’ over the past few years in Namibian society. Teens are sometimes pressurized into sending naked pictures of themselves to a partner and these events cause emotional distress, shame and isolation. Schoolwork and academics often suffer when social media takes priority in the daily lives of youngsters, as too much time is spent ‘chatting’. A reduction in real-human contact results in poor social skills, as communication is not face-to-face, responses are planned and emotions not well-expressed. The most important point to remember is that one should have a balance when it comes to using Social Networking Sites, as excessive use can lead to detrimental effects.
• Compiled by: Samantha Feris