Story By Divine M.
Social media has been around for years now. Most teens spend most of their day scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat. Unfortunately, the internet has become an extremely dangerous place, especially for teens. It has caused mental, emotional, and physical harm to many teens, often leading to tragic outcomes.
Social media has been linked to eating disorders in teens. All social media platforms are plagued with photo-shopped pictures. The pressure from society to have the perfect bikini-ready body at all times is more intense than ever. This can lead to teens starving themselves or overeating to achieve a ‘trendy’ body shape such as Kylie Jenner’s or Zac Efron’s.
Social media has also caused depression and low self-esteem. Teens may begin to need validation from peers or even complete strangers through likes, comments, or followers. If this validation is not received, self-destructive behaviors may occur, such as feelings of worthlessness and depression.
Social media has also been linked to teens committing suicide. According to Cyberbully Hotline, “42% of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied over the past year.” Cyberbullying allows users - teens especially - to abuse each other behind the safety of their devices. This causes mental and emotional distress, including anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
While social media has gifted us with knowledge and the ability to meet people from all over the world, it is still an immensely unsafe environment. Users must be educated on how to avoid and deal with situations such as cyberbullying. They must also be taught how to treat others with kindness both on and off social media. This starts at home; parents and guardians must teach their children how to respect others. Schools could provide mandatory internet safety and anti-cyberbullying classes. The internet safety classes would teach students how to stay safe on the internet. While the anti-cyberbullying classes would teach students how to handle cyberbullying and how to be respectful online. Teens should also be taught about how to enjoy social media without allowing it to define everything they are.