Social media originated as a way for people to connect with family and friends, even if they were thousands of miles apart. Over the last 10 years, online social media has grown extremely fast and become central to the lives of hundreds of millions of people. (Social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google Plus). Some social media, such as LinkedIn, Skype, Zoom and Meetup are becoming important tools for our work and business networking, and even politicians use it as a way to reach a very targeted market. Although teens and young adults spend considerable part of their lives interacting with social media, others refuse to engage with online social networking.
Indeed, the use of social media is on the rise, as a recent survey from Pew has revealed. It is everywhere, encroaching in all aspects of our lives. We can access it with just a tap on our smartphones, tablets, and computers. Let’s dissect some of the benefits and dangers of social networking.
Social media’s pros and cons
Some of the pros and cons of social media are as follows:
- They help stay in touch with people, no matter how far they are.
- Social media helps reduce loneliness of senior citizens who are socially isolated.
- Social media allows for quick diffusion of public health and safety information during crisis events.
- Social media is very entertaining.
- The U.S. military and the Department of Veterans Affairs use social media to help prevent suicide.
- Social media provides relevant information about things that happen everywhere in the world.
- Social media provides academic research to a wider audience, allowing people access to previously inaccessible educational resources.
- They also help better understand the latest trends and events.
- Social media can be used to monitor and shame those who are acting wrong.
- Social media has become a way to meet new people and establish new work, friendship and romantic relationships.
- Social media increases voter participation and facilitates political change.
- Companies and NGOs use social media to enhance their visibility.
- Social networks also allow people to organize collective action.
In many ways, social media has enriched our lives by connecting and inspiring people. However, there is a dark side as well.
- Social media may also insulate people from those who live near them.
- Much of the information disseminated in social media is not reliable or false.
- Social media posts cannot be entirely deleted.
- Social media can endanger our military, journalists, and activists.
- Social media use is associated with personality and brain disorders.
- It causes people to waste many hours of their time.
- Many people become addicted or obsessed with social media.
- Online security breaches and privacy issues have been increased due to social media.
- The impact of social media on children’s education and development is uncertain. Social media can exacerbate feelings of disconnect and put children at higher risk for anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and even suicide.
- They help spread radical views.
- They facilitate the activities of terrorists and criminal groups.
- Thanks to social media governments and corporations can collect information that could be used against the interest of the people.
- Stalking and bullying is common in social media.
- Social media use can cause personality and brain disorders, ADHD and self-centered personalities—particularly in youth.
Several studies and researchers have associated social media with several psychiatric disorders, including depressive symptoms, anxiety and low self-esteem.
As someone wisely said “The more grounded you are in your authentic value as a human being, the less likely you are to be a heavy user of social media and also to be negatively affected by it.”
For example, if you know that your value is deeper and more complex than what you post and how many likes and comments you receive, then you are probably social media resilient.
Using social networking sites raises your exposure to, too much misinformation. There’s fake news, emotionally reactive posts, and just plain hoax circulating as real information.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell which information is true and which one is fabricated. It can lead to doubting even the opinions you formed after reading all available information on social media.
People who spend so much time online often have sedentary lifestyles. This increases their risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other health complications that can shorten your lifespan.
These eye-opening pros and cons of social media use remind us to be constantly mindful of how we utilize social media. Moderation is the key. If you suspect that you are becoming addicted to social media, there are ways you can stop this habit.
Social networking has drastically changed our lives. These platforms offer many advantages but also have some downsides. Do you think their impact is overall positive or negative for society? Are they beneficial or detrimental to our social lives?