Crying at her reflection in the phone screen, 17-year-old Amanda Todd decided to end her life after countless comments, emails, and social media posts cyberbullying her appearance. This teen was her class’ valedictorian and could have continued her life to become very successful, but the lack of motivation and depression she fell into was irreversible. Millions of teens struggle with this daily because of social media. It is true that social media is a helpful tool that can help us communicate with people all around the world, but it can be harmful to young teens who are already struggling with self-discovery and confidence. The risks that come with such an enormous platform where anyone is able to share anything can be overwhelming and have negative impacts on a young teen’s life. Social media should not be used by young teens due to its harmful effects.

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Teens should not use social media because of its many harmful effects, one of them being its addictive nature. Teens are easily distracted and have a lower attention span than adults, which makes it easy for them to linger on social media websites for long periods of time. 87% of teens use at least one social media platform, and the average teen within the ages of 12-17 spends at least 9 hours online. (Richards et al. 1152) This addiction to social media can hurt teens in many ways, including their academics. Addiction to social media can sometimes be prioritized over schoolwork. According to the American Psychotherapy Association, “11.5% of students surveyed reported hyper-networking, defined as spending more than three hours per school day on social networking Web sites, which is associated with higher levels of poor academics,” Hyper-networking is a dangerous concept to connect with teens, because schools is a place for learning, but teens are starting to prefer commenting and liking a post over doing their classwork. The productivity among teens is dropping due to social media. Social media also affects your mental health, and the American Psychotherapy Association elaborated on this, too. The study shows that lack of productivity and laziness from social media can cause depression and anxiety. Depression is a mental illness that is quite common among teenagers who spend most of their time on online networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. (Berryman et al. 8). Also, the dependency of social media directly results in teens being addicted to their phones. Cellphone usage for long periods of time can be extremely harmful, especially when it interferes with sleep. About 95% of teens from ages 12-16 tend to have symptoms such as exhaustibility, tiredness, headaches, and feeling physically ill. (Schoeni et al. 12) Since teens already need more hours of sleep to properly develop, losing sleep can have horrible effects. Along with these short-term effects, lack of sleep can also cause long-term effects. This includes forgetfulness and improper storage of memories, since dreams help us reorganize and restructure dreams, according to the American Psychotherapy Association. These harmful effects of social media are proof that social media is a harmful environment for teenagers.

Because of this dependency and addiction to social media, teens can also suffer in a state of social isolation. The main point of most social networking sites is to connect and interact with people, especially when they are not within reach. But teens are using social media as a substitution for social communication rather than a back-up or resource for when people are not around. Understanding the way people use smartphones can be beneficial for implementing an early detection of social anxiety and loneliness, because of the detrimental effects cell phones have. (Gao et al. 1) Because of the constant usage of online networking sites, teens tend to rely on online relationships rather than personal relationships. This can permanently damage your ability to care for others or cope with relationships face-to-face, rather than online or through a text message. (Richards et al. 1156) Social anxiety is something that can develop in a young from the loneliness and lack of communication skills in person. Based on survey data from a large sample of adolescents in 2017, the Royal Society for Public Health reported strong links between social media use and mental health, especially social anxiety and loneliness. (Berryman et al. 3) The constant use of online networking sites and dependency on social media causes students to disconnect from personal relationships. As you can see, social media can have drastic negative impacts on young teenagers.

Social media should not be used by teens because it is unsafe. Social media is a source for teenagers to have fun with their peers, but it is also a convenient place to commit crimes, such as stalking, theft, and various sexual offenses. And teenagers are the perfect target. According to the Center for Crimes Against Children Research Center, law enforcement nationwide made about 615 arrests for crimes in which youth victims were solicited for sex by someone they met online in 2006, and a 64% increase the following year. (Pujazon-Zazik 82) On top of that, many sexual encounters online are never brought to the attention of the law force. Since teens are more vulnerable than adults, it is easy for sexual predators to use them. Although most encounters online are with naïve teens, many teens who use social media tend to take more risks and participate in unsafe encounters. 73% of the victims who had face-to-face sexual encounters with offenders did so more than once, and they tended to be between the ages of 15-17, as they were prone to take risks with strangers online. (Pujazon-Zazik 82) This led to rape and sexual violence.

Another unsafe crime that social media makes accessible is stalking, which is the act of monitoring someone, and it eventually leads to unwanted harassment or other crimes. Finding somebody’s location is simple from social media is simple, and it gives criminals the perfect opportunity to steal or rape. (Richards et al.1158) Another unsafe act that social media allows to be easily done is cyberbullying, which is the act of intentionally hurting someone through online networking or social media. Many teenagers tend to cyberbully to create attention, look humorous, make themselves look superior, or it could be a coping mechanism for if they are going through something difficult. According to a 2005 telephone survey in the United States, 9% of teenagers reported to be victims of online harassment within the past year. Of that, 55% were bullied through instant messaging, and 10% had suicidal thoughts. (Pujazon-Zazik 82) Cyberbullying is something that can affect all areas of your life, health, personality, education, and motivation to be successful. Suicide is a common path that many teens take to cope with the pain associated with online bullying. About 34,000 people commit suicide each year, and according to the World Health Organization, suicide and depression will be the world’s leading cause of disability and death in 2023. (Schoeni et al. 5) As you can see, teenagers using social media can have harmful effects.

Many people disagree with the fact that social media can do more harm than good. A large population of parents believe that engaging in social media can help teenagers create friendships and communicate easily. This is why over 86% of parents allow their child to access social media without monitoring how they use it. (Schoeni et al. 7) However, engaging in conversations with strangers that they assume are trying to be friendly can be highly dangerous. Over 5% of sexual predators pose as teens online to lure naïve teenagers into being victims of sexual harassment or rape. (Pujazon-Zazik 82) These fake accounts, otherwise known as “catfish”, persuade teenagers into taking part in risky activities such as posting inappropriate pictures online or sending them to these catfish accounts. Also, many researches say that parents are at the fault, and that they should be making sure that teenagers don’t post inappropriate images or cyberbully. According to a 2011 survey, parents of teenagers of the ages 12-16 believed that their children use social media responsibly, when really their kids were abusing the privilege and had the lowest GPA of their class. (Barryman et al. 7) To add, teachers and administrators believe that if we take away social media, teens will find another way to distract themselves from school or to cyberbully. A study showed that 1 in 5 teens become addicted to drugs between the ages of 11 to 17, according to the World Health Organization. However, social media is an addictive habit that can lower their grades and can make bullying easier. Cyberbullying is an easy way to anonymously post anything online. Over 55% of school administrations don’t have rules against online bullying either, so it is better that we keep this dangerous activity out of teens’ hands. (Gao et al. 4) Drugs may be common amongst teens without social media, but with it, teenagers are 43 times more likely to give into peer pressure or rebellious acts while using online communication websites, according to the American Psychotherapy Association. Therefore, it is safer that young teenagers do not use social media.

Social networking is a trend that becomes more and more popular by the second. But social media is negatively affecting young minds that already have so much influence around them. If parents are not able to stop their child from using social media, it is best to at least restrict their usage. It will keep teens safe and prevent various negative outcomes that social media can have on teens. Instead of liking or commenting on a post, maybe you can make a new friend or say a nice comment in person. At least you’ll know they’re a real person and not a fake account.

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  • “Teens’ Excessive Use of Texting, Social Media Linked to Risky Behavior.” Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, vol. 13, no. 4, Winter2010, p. 8. EBSCOhost
  • Berryman, Chloe, et al. “Social Media Use and Mental Health among Young
    Adults.”SpringerLink, Springer US, 1 Nov. 2017
  • Richards, Deborah, et al. “Impact of Social Media on the Health of Children and Young People.” Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, Wiley/Blackwell, 26 Nov. 2015
  • Schoeni, Anna, et al. “Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Adolescents in Relation to Mobile Phone Use during Night.” PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 7, 2015. Academic OneFile