Social media has become a factor that has brought about great change in the world today. It has affected all aspects of life that range from communication, economy, social connections, and self-presentation. This period in history is what is known as the digital age. Generally, mostly everything in an individual’s life is controlled or associated with technology. The aspects that are influenced by technology include a person’s social, financial, personal, and work-related factors. People have become dependent on technological devices and social media. It has become the epidemic of the modern world which poisons our brains, bodies, and hearts.
Growing up in the digital age has undoubtably brought about change in the usual upbringing of our children. It has affected our children on a social, cognitive, and emotional level. Young children are being exposed to more hours of television and game-content that alter their thinking and mood. They lack the exposure to other activities that are essential to their cognitive development. For example, young children that are constantly watching television do not develop a proper level of imagination. Additionally, according to Christopher Bergland (2013), television exposure impairs a child’s cognitive development and ultimately, has a correlation with attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Therefore, digital media not only impairs cognitive development, but it also may result in psychological disorders. In teenagers, social media can seriously affect their mental and emotional wellbeing. In this age, mostly all teenagers depend on social media as their source of entertainment or outlet. They have developed a need to know what is going on in other people’s lives as well as self-advertise their own lives by posting information or sharing pictures or videos.
One of the problems that young people face in the digital age is having a self-identity crisis as a result of the internet. According to Carl Pickhardt (2014), every posted description of oneself, be it a social networking page or an online video tour of one’s computer desk layout or set-up, to everything beyond and in between, is an advertisement intended to define self, publicize personal image, enhance social standing, and attract attention from friends or family. As children, one identifies himself or herself through the attachment with their parents. When the teenage years make their way, teenagers detach from their parents and are more identifying with their social group. Furthermore, these are the years where a teenager changes identities in order to discover which person he/she is becoming. In the virtual world (the internet) adolescence become comfortable with the idea of expression through a computer screen. They become dependent of this factor and, as a result, do not develop the necessary charactiristics needed for face-to-face interaction. Additionally, teenagers can easily be manipulated by external factors that are presented on the internet that changes their thought, beliefs, and overall, self-image.
The problems that teenagers face affect their psychological, emotional and physical well-being. Psychologically, teenagers can develop of a form of addiction to social media or social communication. They are prone to situations such as cyber bullying which can ultimately affect their overall mental health. For example, a teenager that is cyber-bullied is at risk for developing depression and committing suicide. Emotionally, teenagers are prone to getting their feelings hurt because of the content found on the internet. In addition to cyber-bullying that causes hurt feelings, the way that the media portrays the ideal image of men and women can make teenagers feel angry, upset, or disappointed in themselves for not meeting those unrealistic body or beauty standards. Lastly, the internet can cause problems for individuals on a physical aspect as well. According to Mieko Okabe (2018), mobile phone users are usually chronically tired and suffer from headaches, vertigo, and stiff shoulders and necks. Additionally, internet usage has affected the amount of sleep that teenagers get. Usually, they are sleeping less than they should which would increase their development of insomnia. This will ultimately lead to loss of appetite, increased blood pressure, and less productivity.
In conclusion, the internet factor that one can not simply let go from their lives. However, it does cause problems on a social, psychological, emotional, and physical level when it is not used in moderation. The problems that arise from the abuse of the internet impact individuals and their societies together. The dangers of the internet can affect little children and develop into their teenage years. These first stages of life are essential for proper character, cognitive, and social development that are needed tools in order to function productively in society as adults. Education is an efficient way to bring about change to parents, teenagers, and other individuals about the responsible uses of the internet. Psychologists can develop education programs that bring awareness to the harmful causes that the internet can have when used in excess. However, they should also promote internet use in a responsible manner since society will continue to move into a digital age.
Bergland, C. (2013, November 23). One More Reason to Unplug Your Television. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201311/one-more-reason-unplug-your-television
Johnson, C. (2014, May 28). Growing up digital: How the Internet affects teen identity. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865603981/Growing-up-digital-How-the-Internet-affects-teen-identity.html
Okabe, M. (2018, August 24). The problems of living in the digital age. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/08/24/reader-mail/problems-living-digital-age/#.W80lxa15DBI
Pickhardt, C. E. (2014, May 26). Adolescence and Internet Identity. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201405/adolescence-and-internet-identity