Amanda Todd was 15 years old and lived in Vancouver. On October 19 this year she hung herself. Shortly before she did this, she made a YouTube video describing why she would commit this unfortunate act.
What made her do this harrowing act? A 15 year-old girl with her whole life in front of her.
It was the result of bullying on many social media sites such as Facebook.
These sites were originally set up with good intentions to facilitate communication and to keep in touch with friends and family and to share pictures. These sites can also assist students in connecting with their peers and discussing their homework, assignments and group projects.
Accessing various forms of social media is a common activity and has been shown to benefit adolescents by enhancing communication. Also, it improves technical skills and keeps people connected to society. Ever since children are born, books, movies and the internet influence how the youth act and think. These influence children more and more as they grow older. During the last 5 years, the number of preadolescents and adolescents using such sites has increased dramatically.
According to a recent poll, 22% of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day, and more than half of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day. Thus, a large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet. Unfortunately recent research indicates that these sites are now used in a more negative way far outweighing the benefits. Bullying, clique forming and pedophilia are increasingly prevalent on social media sites. Because of their limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents are at some risk as they navigate and experiment with social media.
Social media sites can have a detrimental effect on the youth due to the ever-present risk of bullying. Cyberbullying is when a person or troll deliberately uses digital media to purposely expose, harm or embarrass a particular person. It is the most common online risk for all teens and is a peer-to-peer risk. Cyberbullying is quite common throughout society and it can happen to anybody. It can cause profound psychological damage such as depression and anxiety. Also, there is the economic impact felt by parents as their children are exposed to countless advertisements that pop up on sites urging them to buy unnecessary products. In a child’s perspective, they think they need these certain items to be popular or cool.
Worse still, some of these sites can expose children to violence and sexual content and this has been proven to influence children in become more aggressive in their behaviour. Furthermore, children are becoming immune to seeing violence and regard it as acceptable behaviour. They are losing their ability to empathise and to know what is right or wrong. This has huge implications for society, relationships and families.
Lastly, it is known that students that are on social media sites while studying show reduced academic performances because their ability to concentrate on a particular task is reduced by the distractions that are brought about by Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. The popularity of social media, and the speed at which information is published, has created a lax attitude towards proper spelling and grammar. This affects a student’s ability to write and spell effectively.
In conclusion, the use of social media websites is detrimental to the education of the youth and also their mental well-being. As you can see from this brief overview of Facebook and other social media sites, the negative impacts far outweighs the initial benefits for which they were established. We’ve looked at cyberbullying and resulting suicides, the exploitative marketing, the exposure of violence and a breakdown in societal values and morality due to the effects of social media sites. Do you think these social media sites are worth all of these potential hazards? I think not.
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Dufour, K 2012, ‘Amanda Todd case highlights issue of online bullying ‘, The Telegraph, 16 October, accessed 12 November 2012, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9612030/Amanda-Todd-case-highlights-issue-of-online-bullying.html>.