Whether or not you use it daily, social media has profoundly changed the way we interact with the world and each other. From sending messages to friends studying abroad to crowdsourcing a global movement for sustainable clean energy, platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter becoming a hallmark for the 2000’s thus far.
However, social media has also had its fair share of backlash and negative impacts as well, often characterized as a killer of traditional interpersonal relationships and the catalyst for disorders like depression. To help navigate the complicated and controversial aspect of our society, here are some pros and cons concerning social media.
How It’s Helping
To start, there’s no denying the convenience of certain aspects of social media. For one, platforms like Facebook, Instagram and others offer integrated tools that allow us to connect with friends and family, no matter where they are located. When I studied abroad in college, I used the Facebook Messenger feature to keep in touch with my family members, sending them well-wishes and media updates from around the world. Twenty years ago, doing such a thing would have been costly and inconvenient. And even nowadays, communicating with your phone abroad can rack up a large bill with your service provider!
Additionally, social media can be used to bring communities together in support of powerful causes. Just recently, a young Swedish environmental activist named Greta Thunberg utilized the power and global reach of social media to propagate her message to other young people. The result: a meeting with former US President, Barack Obama and a chance to speak to the United Nation’s leaders about the importance of protecting the environment. This is only one example of the hundreds of global movements that are being supported by social media.
Social media is also giving small businesses a chance to make a splash in their market! From small taco shops in Southern California sharing mouthwatering videos on Instagram to organic local farmers markets posting pictures of their morning treats, social has become an invaluable tool for the mom-and-pop shop! Allowing small businesses to advertise affordably has benefited thousands of families across the nation.
How It’s Hurting
Now, for the darker side of social. Yes, it is true, social can also negatively impacted our daily lives in significant ways. For one, it can be a catalyst for jealousy and low self-esteem, especially for younger and more impressionable audiences. In fact, according to one study, the rise of social media has become “a causal risk factor for the development of eating disorders”. After browsing images of perfect looking influencers and models, it’s no surprise that people of all ages are developing negative body images of themselves.
Social is also another channel for online bullies and predators to prey on unsuspecting and gullible children and young adults. With the ability to contact and interact with strangers around the world, parents should pay extra attention to how their children are using social media. Almost all social media platforms come integrated with parental or privacy controls so make sure you know how to set and adjust them for your child before allowing them access to social.
Social media is even affecting our physical health! There’s no doubt that social media can be mesmerizing, pulling impressionable children into its webs for hours and hours on end. As a result, chiropractors around the nation are reporting a rising increase of neck aches and stiffness, commonly characterized as “text neck”.
A constant downward tilt of the head caused by prolonged staring at a phone screen forces the neck into an unnatural position, causing strain on the vertebrae and muscles. To prevent this, doctors suggest holding the phone at eye level or remembering to look up and around every five minutes or so to keep the neck from stiffening up.