The rapid increase of social networking has inflicted ideas upon us about whether it is a positive influence on social interaction or if it is actually destroying how we socially interact. Clearly the use of social networking has become a life controlling obsession. Social Media provides a platform for cyber bullying to take place, causes users to become addicted and allows for the easy distribution of child pornography. Clearly social media is having a negative impact on our society.
Social media creates a platform for harassment to occur regularly. There is no visual interaction between a bully and the victim, meaning empathy is reduced tremendously. This makes harassment easier to inflict upon another person because the bully is hiding behind the computer screen. A survey by Australian Children’s Safety Services found that 88% of cases where children have been bullied, has been happening through social media. One in five students have reported being cyber bullied according to John Smith, head of the Principals’ Federation of South Australia.
“Depression, anxiety and a decrease in self-confidence are caused by harassment”, he said. In many cases, cyber bullying has caused victims to commit suicide. (Amanda Todd) 16 year old, was harassed relentlessly on Facebook by people she didn’t know, her self-esteem was eaten away and she killed herself. Even after her death, the cyber bullies continued to post malicious comments. Is this the kind of society we Australians want? The platform that social media provides has a negative influence on our generation, as harassment is too easily inflicted upon others.
The accessibility of social networks has influenced users to develop an addiction. Users become obsessed with constantly updating their status, checking ‘Facebook’ updates and text messages. Addiction to social media never came across my mind until I realised, every night I had an urge to check text messages and tweets when I should be sleeping. Such lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on school or work. Jane White a student from Christies Beach High says, “When using social media I feel as if I am ‘itching a scratch’, but when I am restricted to how much I use these networks I start to become angry.”
Social media features such as ‘retweets’ and ‘likes’ give users a boost of feel-good brain chemicals because they are a form of positive endorsement. Clinical Psychologist, Thomas Cannings, reported that, in a study of fifteen thousand regular social media users, 64% were found to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression when deprived of access to social media. Our obsession with social media has seen restaurants filled with couples, texting absent friends while ignoring those present. Social network addiction is a negative influence on society and it should be treated like a normal addiction.
Child pornography is being distributed online on a daily basis. Through the use of social networks inappropriate images and videos are easily spread. Because of how quickly images and videos spread on social networks, child pornography is easily obtained by paedophiles. Records kept by South Australian Police indicate that, in 79% of possession of child pornography cases, all were distributed through social networks. Chris Rogers, a 33 year old male serving time for possession of child pornography says “I was aware that the penalties for possessing child pornography were harsh but it is too easy to access online and I just could not help myself”. (Debra Anne), 14 year old girl, sent nude photos to her boyfriend which ended up being distributed on Facebook. Two years later Debra’s images went viral and she committed suicide. Sharing images online is a form of cyber bullying and leaves nasty effects on the victim. All children involved with social networking are in danger because of predators potentially retrieving their images and misusing them.
Any sane person can see that social networking has destroyed how society interacts. It is a platform for malicious cases of cyber bullying, influences users to develop severe addiction and allows easy distribution of child pornography. Social media expert, Dennis Georgio says “I think teenagers nowadays are depending too much of their life on social network sites. Facebook, Twitter. What would your life be without them? So disconnect and go explore the real world”. Do we really want social interaction to deteriorate because of the misuse of social networking? There
are thousands of real people who would love to socialise, so leave social media and enter reality.