Free Essay About Social Media Impact On Teenagers’ Self-Perception
With rapid development of digital technologies and impetuous increase of the role of Internet in people’s everyday life, developers of media platforms have found out that social media have gained special popularity among Internet users. Being an integral part of society’s life, social media platforms have changed the society itself. A plenty of today’s researches and studies are connected with the influence of use of social networks on person’s level of development, ability to learn, memory, concentration, patience, etc. The public concern about the issue exacerbated by the fact that a larger percentage of social media users are teenagers, so they start being under its influence from a young age, thus, feel such influence more deeply. It is stated that along with the impact on physical conditions of teenagers, social networks have an effect on their mental health as well. Since a large part of social media users become addicted to these platforms and hardly imagine their lives without it, the researchers started to analyze why social media are so popular among teenagers. In this sense, the research question of my paper is whether social media have an effect on how teenagers view themselves, so that they can express their personalities in the way they like, immersing themselves in the comfortable virtual reality, and becoming addicted to this reality as a result. The research question is extremely important in the context of understanding the psychology of modern adolescents generally, and in the sphere of how social networks affect their psychology particularly.
I started my research with searching for information about what social networks are the most popular in the world and how many teenagers use them. According to A Common Sense Media Research Study that published its report on “Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives” in 2012, the most popular networks among young generation are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (Rideout 9). The report also states that 90% 13-to 17-year-olds have used social media; 68% of adolescents consider Facebook as their main social networking site, while only 27% have ever used Twitter. 51% use social media every day, 34% of them visit their social networking site several times a day; 23% of users are very active social media users (Rideout 9).
As the percentage of teenagers who use any social media is extremely large, it becomes obvious that social networks are indeed very popular among young people. At that rate, the research question remains actual and significant, so in order to understand whether social media can have an impact on how teenagers see themselves, I firstly made research on what can cause such impact and how youth use their social networks in order to feel themselves differently. It was found out that the possible impact of social media on teenagers lies in adolescents’ feeling of being an important part of society (for instance, while commenting news, updates, posts), presenting themselves as interesting personalities (for instance, while they carefully select the items to share on Facebook), and feeling themselves more confident (those who are shy prefer to communicate with peers online). As a result, young people create their own world in social network, a separate virtual reality, where they feel themselves more comfortable since through the social media they present themselves to the people in the way they wanted to see themselves in real life – in other words, they indulge in escapism. These ideas are presented by Patrick Mott in his article “Using Social Media Positively”, which was published in the “Huffington Post” newspaper on December, 23, 2013. The author writes that it is important today to “build, or restore, an online reputation” and that “using social media positively doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and use it to express yourself” (Mott “Using Social Media”). On the other hand, there are things in social networks that can have negative effect on teenagers’ self-perception. In her article “Does Social Media Impact on Body Image?”, Philippa Roxby, the health reporter of BBC News, explains that nowadays social media portray and propagandize “an ideal body image that causes people to question their looks and lose confidence in themselves” (Roxby “Does Social Media Impact on Body Image?”). Young girls see ideal women on the Internet and start to consider themselves as imperfect creations. And that is why these girls begin to use Photoshop and Instagram in order to show people only good “selfies”.
While Instagram is a good way for teenagers to be more confident and view themselves more attractive and successful, another social media – Ask.fm – can harm the self-esteem of young people. In order to determine how some social networks can affect adolescents in the negative way, I gathered information about the connection between using social media and teenagers’ suicides. Ryan Broderick, the BuzzFeed News Reporter, wrote an article where he talked about nine teenage suicides because of bullying on Ask.fm (Broderick “9 Teenage Suicides in the Last Year”). Receiving offensive and humiliating anonymous questions from people, the users of this social network cannot stand numerous insults; their self-esteem becomes much lower, and viewing themselves as “loser”/“freak”/unworthy men, they end up committing suicide.
Fortunately, the percentage of those who are ready to kill themselves because of bullying on social networks is quite low. Unfortunately, the percentage of those who get depressed because of online insults is very high. If social media does have an effect on how teenagers view themselves, then the further research has to determine what type of users can fall under this influence and what kind of influence it can be. For instance, in his article “How Facebook Can Amplify Low Self-Esteem/Narcissism/Anxiety”, Ray Williams gathered the results of several researches on how social media develops narcissism: “Facebook is a mirror and Twitter is a megaphone for the cultural obsession with self”; “Facebook provides an ideal forum for the average narcissist” (Williams). In a general pattern, the book “Adolescent Sexual Behavior in the Digital Age” explains: “Teens value social media precisely because they permit this type of manipulating of their persona” (Grudzinskas, Judge, Saleh 37). It posits that good social media account will have significant subconscious impact on teenager’s feeling of their own happiness and well-being (37).
The question “Does social media have an effect on how teenagers view themselves?” can find several answers during the research of the issue. The cause of this question lies in the need to understand why social networks are so popular among adolescents. The importance of this question lies in the need to find out whether social media have a deep influence on teenagers to the extent it changes their psychology generally, and self-perception particularly. From my perspective, social media cannot be the first and the main reason of teenager’s certain attitude to himself – initially, the peculiarities of how young people see themselves are formed by the adolescents themselves, and social media only aggravates and helps to realize this self-perception. On the other hand, some distortion of self-assessment because of social media is also present since the influence of other people’s opinion on an individual is significant enough; especially, if this opinion idolize one person on Instagram or humiliate another on Ask.fm.
Rideout, Victoria. “Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives”. A Common Sense Media Research Study, 2012. PDF file.
Williams, Ray. “How Facebook Can Amplify Low Self-Esteem/Narcissism/Anxiety”. Psychology Today. May 20, 2014. Web. 3 Feb 2015.
Grudzinskas Albert, Judge Abigail, Saleh Fabian M. Adolescent Sexual Behavior in the Digital Age: Considerations for Clinicians, Legal Professionals, and Educators. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Print.
Broderick, Ryan. “9 Teenage Suicides in the Last Year Were Linked To Cyber-Bullying On Social Network Ask.fm”. BuzzFeed News. September 11, 2013. Web. 3 Feb 2015.
Roxby, Philippa. “Does Social Media Impact on Body Image?” BBC News. October 13, 2014. Web. 3 Feb 2015.
Mott, Patrick. “Using Social Media Positively”. Huffington Post. June 23, 2013. Web. 3 Feb 2015.