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Social Media Negatively Affects Teenagers' Wellbeing and Habits

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Adita Singh

on 5 September 2013

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Transcript of Social Media Negatively Affects Teenagers' Wellbeing and Habits

Diary
Social Media Negatively Effects Teenagers' Wellbeing and Habits.
Introduction
Sleep
Unsurprisingly, social media's biggest effect on teenagers may be it's effect on their sleep. A study done by UC San Diego and Harvard found that teens who message and use social sites before sleeping are more likely to have trouble sleeping. The study also concluded that those sleeping with phones near their bed or under their pillow might be woken by alerts from social networking apps. This means that teens may be woken from extremely important sleep and may be unable to return. Research shows that teenagers need a minimum of 9 hourse sleep, and having a phone present, which may wake them, is detrimental to this rest.

FoMO
FoMO is the acronym for 'Fear of Missing Out'. It can cause feelings of depression, anxiety and stress for those affected. This is a real condition which mostly effects 16-35 year olds and the major cause is a pyscological need for social media. Dr Natasha Dwyer, a Victoria Unversity lecturer of digital media, stated that "Social Media provides a notification that you are missing out. Before the arrival of personal broadcasting technology, many of us were protected from information about what others were doing."
This shows us that social media is a key contributor to this condition and can cause teenagers unnecessary stress and emotional strain. In one of my surveys I asked my peers if they ever felt FoMO and 24 said that they sometimes did, whereas 19 said it depended on whose posts they were looking at.

Although FoMO may seem all bad, it can actually help many people achieve higher positions when going for jobs and thus earn more money. This occurs when people feel jealous of their friends' fancy cars or big houses and it encourages them to work harder so that one day, they too might have those things.
Studies
Social Media can afect study habits because it distracts teens from their work and can also be affected by the loss of sleep because of social media. When teenagers lose sleep, their ability to learn and concentrate is effected so not only will homework be affected, but so will the teenagers learning in class.
In my first survey I asked people whether or not they thought social media had an effect on their study habits.

52.81% stated that social media had a negative effect on their studies and 2.25% said that social networking had a positive effect. 21.35% said that their homework and studies were affected in some situations.
Communication
Social Media was designed to help us connect. However, the use of traditional media is rapidly declining in a time when our social networking use is growing, reported an article in The Age. The article also stated that social media is rapidly replacing our face-to-face conversations, something that was confirmed in my first survey. The most popular reasons as to why my peers used social networking sites were: To know what's happening, to keep in touch and to chat with friends. This affirms what the afformentioned article was saying; that most teenagers would talk and communicate through social media instead of in person.
My second survey also concluded that 42.25% of the 71 surveyed believed that social media had an effect on their communication with those around them and 39.44% thought it was a negative one.
Is there nothing good about social media at all?!
Social Media does, in fact, have many positives. Social Media can provide a platform where users can express themselves whether through photos (eg. Instagram) videos (eg. YouTube) or sharing issues which are important to them (eg. Facebook or Twitter). Logging on to your favourite social networking site may be a good way to relieve stress or entertain yourself after a long day of work or school and it makes keeping in touch with friends and family, especially those far away, easier. For example, when Generation X (those born between the early 1960's and the early 1980's) was growing up, they would only be able to call one person at a time, whereas now, we are able to mass-communicate or message multiple friends at the one time using things like group messages.
Teens and tween using social sites can become familiarised with new technologies like iPhones and iPads, which will become the new platforms for work and study in the future.

Mental Health
Did you know that Facebook can actually cause depression?
A study completed by the Unversity of Michigan showed that the longer you spend on Facebook, the more your thoughts of wellbeing will lower and your depressive feelings will increase. This can be casued by seeing photos of friends at parties or having fun, which which causes users to feel as though their lives are not as good as those of their peers.
A study in at Sweden's University of Gothenburg uncovered that "Facebook usage had a significant negative relationship with self-esteem." This means that those who are more regularly on Facebook are more likely to have a lower self-esteem.
My personal surveys concluded that 40.85% of my peers did not know that excess amounts of time spent on the social networking site can cause feelings of dejection to increase. However, 35.21% of the 71 teenagers surveyed said that they had thought that spending too much time on Facebook could cause lower self-esteem and depressio and 17 teens said that they did know about this.
We constantly talk about how online bullying is the main cause for depression cause on the internet, but is our own social networking playing a bigger role?
I chose to focus on social media because the way we communicate and how this effects us has always interested me and I wanted to do something individual that not many other people were doing. At first my topic was Social Media Negatively Effects Teenagers Daily Habits, but I found that that topic was rather limited and I decided to expand it to include wellbeing. I found that the new topic gave me so much more information and made me even more interested, especially with the mental health aspects (which you will read about later).
As part of my research I conducted an experiment (which included 7 girls) and two surveys which were completed by both genders and teens of varying ages.

I hope you all learn something from this presentation and that you enjoy it.

No Social Media for a month
As mentioned earlier, I conducted a small 'experiment' which involoved some willing teens to switch off all social media for a month. As you might guess, once I had asked people to participate (ironically via Facebook) the idea was met with a certain hostlity. This was to be expected, as many people are unwilling to give up things that are so prominent and important in their lives.

I was surprised, though, when 7 people put their hands up and said that they would love to take part. I was only expecting 2 or 3 to do it, plus myself and I doubted whether I would get accurate results from my study.

After the month was over, and the 7 girls and I had returned to social media, I decided to survey them. However, only 4 responded to this survey, damaging the accuracy of my analysis.

The survey found that all the four girls found that they had more time to complete homework, with 75% finding that they had more time to spend with family and more time for other activities such as sport. I also participated in this 'experiment' and I found it interesting that once I had returned, I found social networks a bit less entertaining. I asked the other girls if they had experienced this and some did, in fact, find it less entertaining as well.
They stated that:
-'I have gotten used to not using it and also it is a bit boring and I dont enjoy spending lots of time on it because there are other things to do.'
-'I realised I don't need it as much so it isn't as fun.'
-'I though that when I got back on to social media it would be a big relief and it would be really good but I was disappointed by it and only spent around 5 minutes on it then went off again.'

The majority of girls said it was hard switching off for a month and when asked why, they said it was most difficult when trying to organise events, such as parties or sporting events.

The responses really made me wonder about how dependant we are on social media and how we have adapted our lives around it, by using it as a main way for organisation and communicating.
So why do we use social media?
Adolescent psycologist Michael Carr-Gregg stated that "There is no doubt that the internet allows young people to do the one thing the want to do the most more than anything during adolesence, and that's be with your friends." Although I believe this statement to be very correct, I decided to ask my peers, who frequent social sites, why they themselves use social media.

I wrote the necessary questions and 89 respones later, I discovered that my peers mainly used social media to 'Keep in touch'. The least popular reason for logging on was 'To share things'. I thought about this and concluded that although the teenagers around me wanted to know what other people were doing, they were less willing to share what was going on in their own lives.

Other responses from my age group when asked why they use social media included: Communication, Entertainment, Chatting with firends and Procrastination/Boredom.
Social Media also allows users to keep old friends but make new ones at the same time. This happens when someone follows or adds a 'Mutual Friend' or friend of a friend. Many people have met this way.
Online communities can also be formed on social media. On Facebook, there are many pages about pop-culture, that users can 'like'. Groups which like a TV show, book, movie etc. are known as fandoms and they consist of, you guessed it, fans! Many people have found 'fandoms' where they feel like they belong or have found people they can talk to through fandoms, giving fans a sense of community and inclusion. This can be very good for some people who might feel as though they don't fit in at school or other places.
Being safe online can also give teenagers responsilbility; that is, the responsibilty to manage who our friends are or who is 'following' us. As we all know, responsiblity is a life skill and learning it through something that also entertains us is really good.
In my personal experience social media has helped me reach out and find people who have mutual interested and I myself am part of many fandoms, which are a huge part of who I am. Recently I have friended a girl whom I used to be very close to, but who moved away. Even just sending her a friend request is connecting us and showing that the friendship is stil there.
Social Media may have negative effects, but do the positives outweigh them?

Conclusion
Although most of my research points out the negatives of social media, our networking can also have positive outcomes if managed and if our use is regulated. Awareness of the negative effects that social media can have will also help people use social media in the most effective way possible. Not overusing social media will help us feel good about ourselves after we log out and many people may begin to feel happier when they use Facebook instead of feeling depressed or jealous.

If too much of our time is spent on sites like Facebook, our studies will be affected and so will our mental health, with some of us feeling less confident with ourselves or having lower self-esteem. However, if we balance our social networking use, many people can stay in touch or find a place where they belong.

So yes, social media does negatively affect teenagers' wellbeing and habits, but only if used for long periods or time and if ew work to control our own use and manage when and where we log on, I believe that social media can be used to enhance our world instead of obstruct its progress.

Another study completed by JFK Medical Centre said that teenagers who form these bad sleeping habits will most likely carry the habits through to university and sleeping habits effected by social media will be destructive to teens' education.

Social Media Sites
Statistic from Survey 1
-52.81% of the 89 teenagers survey said that social media had a negative impact on their study habits.
-84% used social media daily, with only 7 using it weekly and 1 using it monthly.
-Even though 84% used social networking daily, 58.43% believed that they were not 'addicted' to social media
Statistics from Survey 2
-45.07% said Facebook was their preferred social media site, with Instagram coming in second and YouTube third.
-24 of the 71 teens who responed stated that they sometimes felt FoMO when browsing social media.
-32.86% said excessive time on Facebook sometimes lowered their self-esteem.
-50.70% said they sometimes felt happy after using social media.
My second survey also concluded that 48.57% believed that social media had an effect on their sleeping patterns, whereas 21/43% said that it did not.
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