Social media has, as one would expect, affected us socially; it has separated us and brought us together at the same time. The ones who are closer to us physically may now be less connected to us and the ones geographically further away may be more connected to us.
More often our friends and relatives abroad freely communicate with us through social media. We’re sending more messages than ever and 90% of teenagers use some type of social media (BBC News, 19th May 2017). It’s also preferred by many than more traditional methods of communication such as text, phone or email. We’re often encouraged to download social media apps in different forms, e.g. Instagram and Facebook.
We’ve become more disconnected with our families. We don’t talk to them as much as we used to. They seem to be becoming normal, unexciting people and because we are used to their presence it’s not as fun. To reinstate the fun we had talking we send messages on social media. Instead of talking to our brother, sister or parents, we’ve turned to our phones and social media.
On the plus side though, we’ve reconnected with long lost friends. It doesn’t matter where they came from; it’s easy to find old friends on Facebook. Searching for their name is a lot easier than trying to find their phone number. It is also a lot easier to communicate. With a call, the person on the other end would need to answer that call and spend the amount time it may take speaking. On Facebook, they can share pictures and just see what each other has posted at a time that suits them.
Through social networks, we are connected to people who we don’t know, maybe friends of friends but many can easily friend a stranger, by the touch of a button. This can prove to be fatal. In 2010, the news was dominated by the death of Ashleigh Hall. She arranged a meet up on social media. As a result, she was killed after meeting a stranger in public. Social media present a range of security risks; this means that people have to be careful on social media. Instead of friends talking in person, they’ve turned to social media. As an entertaining alternative, friends are using social media to communicate rather than meeting in person to have a chat. This is making us socialize in a different way.
Technology has already affected fitness levels; obesity is higher than ever in the UK. In 2014, 35% of English 11-15-year-olds were overweight (NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care, 2015). Social media is just another reason not to go out. Many more are staying inside and even if they are outside it is much less likely that they are doing physical activity. As a result, fitness levels have been affected. Many young people run a sedentary lifestyle.
Obesity is a serious issue, one year ago; the government proposed sugar tax, in order to lower levels of obesity. By July next year, sugar tax will be in force for soft drinks. I believe that technology is making a large effect on obesity. The UK is just getting fatter. Adult obesity rates are even more dramatic with 63% of adults overweight in 2015 (NHS Digital, 2015).
In particular, social media is affecting teenagers most. Many are addicted and it’s fairly popular among teenagers; 90% teenagers use social media of some sort (BBC NEWS, 19th May 2017).
The NHS recommends that young people have at least 60 minutes of activity each day (NHS, 2015). This should range between bone strengthening activity for example jumping and football; moderate activity such as a walking to school or cycling and muscle strengthening activity for instance swinging in a park or gymnastics. Many do not fulfill the NHS recommendations.
There are ways though that social media can actually be good for fitness. Someone may share their fitness achievement such as running a marathon. This will boost their self esteem and develop their fitness even further. Not only that but it can inspire others to also follow them and do the same. As a result, people can come together and support each other.
Mobiles have also have had negative effects on thumbs. Injuries such as RPI (repetitive strain injury) and osteo-arthritis are becoming more common. Our thumbs also have quite limited movement. We use our mobile phones every day. It would release the stress on our thumbs if we used our fingers to control mobile devices since they have more movement.
Computer screens also affect sleep in a negative way. Computer screens release a lot of blue light. This prevents the production of the chemical melatonin a chemical which makes us feel sleepy. The effect of blue light tricks our brain to thinking that it is still bright outside thus meaning that we don’t need to sleep yet. It will then take a while for the melatonin to collect up and send us to sleep. Blue light also lowers the quality of sleep.
Most social networking sites have character limits on messages. To combat this, users condense their information, which is a useful skill. A lot of condensing has been done using abbreviations such as LOL, which stands for ‘laugh out loud’. This has made writing more punchy and short. In some ways, it is improving our writing skills. Social media has also got people writing for a larger audience. This makes them used to be writing a little more formal and writing what their followers will like.
However, character limits are employing slang like ‘ye’ which means ‘yeah’ which is also slang for yes. People are beginning to think that it is alright to use slang in academic writing, only to be corrected further down the line. Writing for social media may have a negative impact on general writing.
Social media has also affected the neatness of people’s writing. Many have traded pen for keyboard. Technology has made it so that it possible to write on keyboard rather than by hand. A third of people had difficulty reading their own handwriting in 2012 (CCN, 2013).
Social media affects us emotionally in a range of ways. It has given us a sense of connectedness as we can communicate all the time with whoever we want.
Many people use social media to gain followers. They see it as a comparison factor, the more followers you have the better your account. When the account owner receives an amount of followers, a chemical is released in the body called dopamine. Dopamine is a reward chemical usually released after achieving a goal, usually after exercise.
Many social media accounts are carefully managed. Only what the person wants their followers to see is posted. This makes social media curative, only the good stuff gets through. This “edited picture” may make their followers feel inadequate. You can’t always read their true emotions because you can’t see them.
Social media has a broad range of positive and negative effects. I think that the negative effects are quite significant over its positives, such as family withdrawal and obesity. These are effects which I think are too significant to ignore. I think that social media has a negative impact upon society.