Looking at the average Millennial, one would see him toting all his smart devices and would wonder if Millennials are ever disconnected – from technology or from each other. The Millennial Generation, more than any other generation, feels the need to be constantly linked to each other. For young American adults aged 18-32, technology is their life; virtual reality has come to supersede physical reality. In what seems like every second of every day, teenagers can be found on their computers, tablets, and cell phones, searching though pages of social media.
In fact, statistics prove that they are: an average teenager has 201 Facebook friends and 73% of teenagers are on at least one social network (Thomas). Across Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter alone it shows how cyber space is endless. According to Social Media Watch, Twitter now boasts that as of May 2, 2013 it has 359 million active users; Facebook still holds the top social media spot with 701 million active users. Thanks to the sizeable growth in online activity, the Millennial Generation has lost touch with interpersonal communication.
If not monitored, online social networking will become detrimental to the Millennial generation and following generations’ social and psychological development, as the anonymity of cyber space has been shown to encourage negative behavior, leading to increased feelings of disconnection from others. Each generation spends their childhoods in different ways. As for this century, Millennials find themselves trapped in the world of media, populated by televisions, radio, magazines, mobile phones, laptops and the Internet, which gives young adults access to what most young adults crave, social media.
There seems to be no decline for “the social networking movement. ” Just a few examples of the seemingly infinite types of online networking are: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and YouTube. According to Amanda Lenhart, of New York Department of Health, 93% of young adults go online. (Lenhart). With such a strong amount of people accessing the Internet, the dangers that can come from the massive amount of time spent online must be discussed.
Social networking is being used as a new tool necessary for a growing technological society. Teenagers, being a large part of the online generation, have been caught up in the allure of online social networks and the way they have revolutionized how people go about their daily activities. A study showed that 48% of people ages 18-34 years old check Facebook when they wake up (Statistics Brain). This shows how highly young adults prioritize social media.
Due to the excessive amount of time spent on these networks and the online freedom that young people have to continuously explore different social networking sites, they are prone to the negative effects it has on their development. While it may seem that social media is required for social survival in today’s society, in actuality it is just a way of communicating with greater ease. With moderation, social networks are vital to American culture. It is when these websites are abused with the intent to bully others, and once they are considered the only hobby for young adults, that they can become increasingly more dangerous.
A large problem arises from communication via technology in lieu of face-to-face conversations, and its prevalence over other activities such as reading, sports, or other hobbies that positively shape the mind and body instead of being a catalyst for negative behavior. Social networking is affecting the schoolwork and test results of America’s youth. Researchers have found that the middle-school, high school and college students who used Facebook at least once during a 15 minute period get lower grades overall (Cosby).
While they are trying to do homework students have a tendency to attempt to multitask and do their homework while simultaneously on different social media outlets. They claim to be successfully multitasking, but they are unaware of the affect these distractions are having on them. In reality, their efforts to multitask are making the simple task they were trying to accomplish take significantly longer than it ordinarily would. A study was performed at two West Coast high-tech firms to observe how many times employees were interrupted and the impact it had on their work.
Each time a worker was distracted from a task, it would take an average of 16 minutes for the employee to return to the previous menial task they were in the process of doing. Even worse, some people forgot what they had been working on all together, showing effects on short-term memory (Sladick). This shows how impactful constantly checking social media or the interruption of a text message can be when working on something as small as writing an email. One of damaging effects of being “plugged in” all the time is this generation’s struggle to correspond with each other properly.
Amanda Lenhart expresses her fear for the generation following her by speaking to the fact that 51% of young people primarily communicate with each other through texting, 42% use social media as a secondary source, and only 29% talk to each other as part of other activities outside of school (Lenhart). With online social interaction being so abundantly available to young adults, most would rather talk to someone over text messages or the Internet and avoid face-to-face contact, because of the stress that can come from talking to someone in person.
America’s youth are showing a severe lack in the social skills necessary to be successful later in life, which will be harmful to the future success of American society. There are 30 million messages sent through Facebook every 20 minutes (Statistics Brain). While it may seem like a generation with a constant link to each other, brought on by the enormous quantity of messages sent between them, would have a excessive feeling of togetherness and an abundant number of fulfilling relationship, ironically, it is speculated these messages do not serve the same quality connection that one gets from an interpersonal conversation.
A lack of interpersonal conversation ultimately leaves them feeling unhappy. There have been studies that prove the increased levels of Internet use have been associated with higher levels of depression and loneliness (Kersting). These online conversations do not provide people with the person to person bond that humans require to feel successful, but are more along the lines of shallow exchanges that include messages such as, ‘sup? ’ that would only require the simplest of responses, ‘nothing, u? ’.
With this being the primary type of communication that they use, young people are unable to see the flaws that come from this type of interaction and how it will lead them to be dissatisfied if it continues to be the majority of how they communicate. The young adults have not learned the proper way to connect with other people nor have they used different conversational skills, or had to deal with different possibly complicated interpersonal situations, and they do not know how to get to know a person from somewhere other than behind the screen. Social media has a profound effect on American culture.
The increase in technology brings forth the same idea of ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg? ’ Are the characteristics of the Millennial Generation: the need for instant gratification, the short attention spans, desire to be constantly connected, and the need to regularly multitask, because of the accessibility of technology? Or is the perpetual improvement of technologies in order to keep up with Millennials? Studies have shown a simultaneous rise of narcissism and social media usage in the Millennial generation, which raises the question: is there a relationship between the two?
Narcissists are usually unable or unwilling to form connections that require emotional investments, such as face-to-face friendships, but still desire the social admiration and attention that a large number of friendships can offer (Bergman). This is the epitome of a person with thousands of ‘friends’ on his or her Facebook, who frequently participates in extensive, but insubstantial activity online. He or she feels loved, which increasingly fuels their narcissistic behavior.
This is only one of the negative side effects that are on the upswing with the increased use of social technologies, others on the rise include aggression, anxiety and depression. The endless use of technology is affecting every part of people’s lives. With so many outlets for people to communicate with, the American culture has developed an addiction to social networking websites. People have been known to sleep with their phones, making different social media site the last thing they see each night, and allowing them to be contacted at any time of the night. Dr.
Roseanne Barker, of The Barker Sleep Institute, says, “Americans are getting a lot of light exposure through electronics and technology during that last hour before sleep… And it decreases the brain’s natural production of melatonin. ” Melatonin is the body’s sleep-promoting hormone, she explains, and when phones constantly ring and beep throughout the night, it causes sleep fragmentation and disruption. Barker sees the issue in patients of all ages, but it is increasingly affecting the youth (Meckles). With adults placing technology at such a high place on their priority list, the idea is trickling down to America’s youth.
Adolescents see the amount of time people older than them spend on the different types of social media and assume that the same behavior is acceptable for themselves. Studies claim a direct link between the use of cell phones and social networking and medical issues, like seizures and radiation (Meckles). A large problem coming from the hold technology has over people is how it affects their overall lifestyle, in this case their sleeping patterns, which causes an increase in more serious health effects that will affect them in the long run.
One might say that social media has transformed the Internet into a tool that has made communication easier and more accessible. These networking sites allow people to communicate with people across the globe, showing them about how the other side lives. But what happened to it being dangerous for young people to engage in communication with strangers? Sure, a young person might think ‘this person is thousands of miles away, he or she can’t cause me any harm, why not add this person as a friend on Facebook?
They could never find me in real life. ’ People have a false sense of security through the Internet. They find comfort in the anonymity available to them on social media sites. They feel a freedom from real life and freedom from consequences. Moreover, social networking offers young adults a place that puts a great emphasis on acting immorally. For example, all the different inappropriate themes posted all over the Internet that prompts impressionable young minds to think things that are usually seen as morally wrong are actually normal.
Not to mention the danger that comes with certain social networking applications, such as Tinder. An application that uses a person’s GPS location to find people in his or her area and ‘matches’ them. Allowing the user to decide if he or she like a persons picture, if they do, the two people are allowed to communicate with each other through the application. Not only does that promote the importance of looks and allows a person to potentially create a fake identity to attract whatever type of person they are looking for, but it is a slyly built ‘dating’ site designed for teenagers.
A person could mistakably be under the impression that it had a similar inconspicuousness that came with talking to a person across the globe, but actually be unknowingly be putting himself or herself at risk with a potentially dangerous person in his or her area. Anonymity causes people to question the validity of anything that is written on the Internet. If anyone is able to write whatever he or she feels on the Internet, then that is more difficult to determine what is true and what is false. This causes people to question everything they read even when the legitimacy is stated and has been proven.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that the negative comments on science articles affected how people perceived the validity of the science (Rooney). While it may be good that people do not immediately believe the things they read on the Internet, they have started to question verified data. In people thinking nothing on the web is true, they consistently try to disprove this data, and anonymously write scathing things about these studies causing other people who see these negative comments to think the research is not professionally done and therefore invalid.
This type of anonymity on the Internet forces societies to take a step backwards. Anonymity on the social networking sites brings forth a major negative that has a serious impact on many young adults: cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can be very damaging to adolescents and teens. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide. 68% – 97% of online aggression victims also experience offline relational aggression and 24% -76% also experience offline physical victimization. Cyber bullying is a gateway for a bully to start abusing others in person. More than 32,000 suicides occurred in the U. S.
This is the equivalent of 89 suicides per day, one suicide every 16 minutes or 11. 05 suicides per 100,000 populations (Kersting). With namelessness on the web, people will say anything they want regardless of how it may impact someone else, because they have no fear of being held accountable for the harm it may cause. Anonymity can be used for offensive or disruptive communication. It is not uncommon for people to anonymously say damaging things about other people. People frequently create fake emails in order to make fake profiles on Facebook, so they can publically say whatever they what to whoever they what free of blame or punishment.
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, about half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly (Bullying Statistics). With the rise of use of social media sites this statistic is growing. As a way to increase awareness, a news station told the story of how someone made a false account and anonymously commented on a boy who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome Facebook saying, ‘You should just go kill yourself. No one likes you, anyway.
‘ The boy, who already faces challenges in school, where kids bully him relentlessly, was smart enough to take this message to his mother and thankfully was given the proper help for him to deal with the bullying and did not take his own life (Finn). Due to the lack of face-to-face contact with the victim, an online bully may not know the effects they are having on the other person. Therefore, online bullies are less likely to feel guilt about the things they have said. In his or her anonymity these kids are more likely to say something even more hurtful through technology then they would normally say to someone’s face
(Kersting). These cruel messages are not only free to be seen by any one on the Internet, but they can easily be distributed quickly and to a mass audience, such as a whole student body, leaving the victim with few or no people unaware of the mean, and probably false, comments that are being said about he or she. Making it impossible for the target of the bullying to avoid the negative things that are being said. The ease of access to social allows cyber bullies to attack other people at any time, leaving their victims to feel trapped by the things being said to and about them.
It is not like it was for previous generations, where at 3:00 o’clock a person was free from whoever was bullying them at school and could go home to a safe, bully free environment. Social networking allows this generation’s bullies to harass their victims at any time. Because they are attacked round the clock, some victims feel that suicide is his or her only way to be free of the hurt. Someone might argue that for someone who feels suicide is his or her only way to be free of pain that there are plenty of resources to help them.
The problem is that a majority of these resources are online, on the very social networking websites where these people are receiving abuse. The resources that will supposedly help them to feel better come from the place that is causing them the most pain, and therefore causes victims of bullying to avoid accessing them. They have the mindset that the social media websites will only cause them pain, making the information unavailable to the people who need it most. In the creation of fake profiles, dangerous people are able to pursue whatever type of target they are seeking.
According to Jacob Palme, “Anonymity can be used to seek contacts for performing illegal acts, like a pedophile searching for children to abuse” (Palme). While there are certain websites that inform people if there is a pedophile living in their area, so they can protect their children from them. There is no such way to warn people of those same hazardous people all over the web, because it is impossible to detect them over the Internet. These dangerous people use anonymity to say what ever they need to in order to get an impressionable person to do what he or she wants.
Parents need to have guidelines for how technology is used within the household in order to raise well-rounded citizens that will grow into successful people that will participate in the road to a prosperous society. To have this functioning culture, the community needs children that will grow into adults that are capable of functioning on their own. From a young age, Americas children need to learn about being responsible and not relying on other people or the Internet to gather information For example perhaps have young people share a cell phone that has to be checked out from the parent by the child.
This type of rule would require the young adults to be involved in other activities such a reading, sports, or clubs with others and not have the dependence on technology, that so many people ages 18-32 suffer from. Another possible way to monitor social media is have hours of the day where its not allowed. For instance, having to check phones, tablets, and laptops in at night. This will allow kids to connect with people in real life and not just over Wi-Fi. Modern technologies can very well be a double-edged sword, they offer a person an abundance of knowledge at their fingertips, but also can be the cause of intense destruction to another.
When improperly used, social networking has an enormous harmful affect on a person’s wellbeing, sometimes even leading to death as stated above. The dependence American culture has on technology is negatively impacting young peoples development. If awareness of the inevitable destruction from the unceasing use of technology does not become more widespread, then American culture has no chance of staying a superpower in the world. People will be in constant fear for what an anonymous person might say about them through social media, hindering them from saying anything at all.
The intelligence levels will continue to decline as the use of social media increases and America will be raising a dysfunctional community full of feelings of disconnection and depression. Albert Einstein once famously said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots. ” This quote begs the question, has that day already come? Works Cited Bergman, Shawn M. , Matthew E. Fearrington, Shaun W. Davenport, and Jacqueline Z. Bergman. Personality and Individual Differences. Vol. 50. N. p. : Elsevier, 2011.
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