The Impact of Social Media on Students

Although social media actually began in 1997 with a website called Six Degrees, and MySpace became a go-to for many Internet users in 2003, it wasn’t until Facebook and Twitter hit the scene that social media truly took off.

Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004, though it was solely limited to college students before it opened up to the public and became the top social media site today. Since then, the use of social media among individuals across the globe has increased at a rapid rate. Now, thanks to mobile devices such as the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Pixel, social media is available to us almost whenever and wherever we want it — and the amount of people wanting to stay constantly connected continues to grow.

According to the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of the public in today’s society uses some form of social media. For teenagers, much of their time is spent on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. While social media platforms are often great opportunities for individuals to connect and keep in touch with one another, they can also be outlets that cause insecurity, anxiety, and low levels of self-esteem — especially in teenagers.

A study conducted by individuals at the University of Pittsburgh titled “The Association between Social Media Use and Eating Concerns among U.S. Young Adults” found that there is a correlation between how long young adults spend using social media apps and ensuing negative body image views. Those who were on the apps for longer periods of time were 2.2 to 2.6 times more likely to be at risk for concerns regarding health and eating issues and body image.

Extensive social media use can also result in lack of sleep, which leads to additional concerns for students, such as mental health and abilities to perform at their highest levels in the classrooms and during extracurricular activities

Social media use does not always carry with it negative consequences, though. Individuals have been able to create social undertakings and inspire others through their posts and interactions with followers. In 2018 alone, we have already seen trending hashtags — such as “#MeToo” for the Time’s Up movement and “#neveragain” for the movement created by students from Parkland, Florida — that have allowed a multitude of individuals from various regions and backgrounds to come together as one force to try to create change.

Many social media apps that are useful within the classroom have also been created. Programs such as Edmodo, Google Classroom, and Remind allow teachers and students to communicate regarding lessons and assignments, while Facebook and Twitter can be incorporated into educational activities, as well. Earlier this week, Apple also launched new Pencil support and additional educational software for its iPad that will benefit classrooms in particular. There is also a new app on the iPad called Schoolwork, which allows teachers to create assignments and activities for their students to complete on their devices.

Whether used for a purpose with a specific goal in mind or simply to pass time and learn about others’ lives, social media can essentially consume its consumers. The outcome and the behaviors of the students using the various apps are direct reflections of the time they spend, how much emphasis and truth they place on the images and content they see, and their own emotional states and capacities.

What is important for parents to be aware of is how much dependence their children have on their phones, particularly in terms of the use of social media. While interacting on social media can certainly benefit your student, make sure that he or she is not using it so much that it produces negative effects.

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