How Social Media Can Affect Relationships and Happiness and the Dangers of those Effects.
Everyday people spend time on some form of social media and use technology. Technology has become a large part of how society functions. Social media use can have an effect on the happiness of people of all ages and their personal relationships. Through social media and other uses of the internet people explore their identities and build relationships. It is through this usage that can have an affect on people’s lives. Through this essay I will explore the dangers of this internet usage by showing how it affects people’s happiness, then how it affects relationships and provide possible solutions and preventions.
Technology has an affect on children, teens and adults. There is a large number of teens that use the internet daily, approximately 73% of young people use the internet and that percentage continues to increase (Ybarra). That percent is alarming because that is a large portion of teens that can be exposed to the dangers of the internet. One of those dangers is cyber bullying and harassment that can lead to depression. There are a high amount of teens and preteens that have taken their life because of harassment on social media (McDool), this is because kids are hiding behind screens and choose cyberbullying as a way to express themselves. According to a study by Michele Ybarra MPH at John Hopkins University, there is a clear correlation between negative experiences online and depressive symptomatology. The study showed that there is an increasing percentage of kids from ages 10 to 17 that have high to mild symptoms of depression due to online harassment (Ybarra). This in one effect that technology has and could lead to more dangerous things like kids committing suicide. On the other, hand kids are also learning to network and use social media as an outlet to connect and form relationships (McDool). The internet has become a tool for young people to connect and communicate more (Ybarra). The internet is not all dangerous but in some cases the negatives outweigh the positives of social media use. Social media can affect children’s mental health. “There are concerns that ‘excessive’ time spent on social media is associated with low self-esteem, common mental health problems, and socioemotional difficulties” (McDool). Social media is having a negative effect on kids at such a young age making life harder for them, therefore resulting in an overall effect on their adult life. Another way it affects mental health is creating depression from perceiving other people’s happiness as higher than their own based off what they see on Facebook (McDool). All of these are negative ways that social media and technology affect children and teens. There are always going to be dangers when it come to the youth using social media but it is up the parents to monitor their children to keep them safe and smart on the internet. It is also up to schools to educate children on the dangers of misusing social media. Education is key especially when it come to technology; because technology is the future and if we do not learn how to properly use it now then the world is in danger. An easy way to fix the issue of internet overuse is for parents to control and monitor their kids usages and minimize it. The internet and technology does not only affect children and their relationships, it also affects adults.
The internet has a major affect on a couple’s everyday life: the phone buzzes and takes away action from the significant other, couples share social media accounts, and they post pictures of each other. Nearly 98% of all Americans own a phone (Lenhart), this means each couple has a phone, which means technology is a part of life and can change how the relationship flows. People also use the internet to meet people and start a relationship using online dating sites, there are major dangers that come with using social media and these sites to meet people. A few of the risks of online dating include: lies and deceit, emotional and sexual risks, and violence (Couch,Liamputtong,Pitts). People lie online by using fake profile picture and lying about who they are while chatting (Couch). The emotional and sexual risks include getting one’s hopes up and putting themselves in an emotionally vulnerable state when finally meeting people online and then meeting in person for the first time (Couch). The sexual risks include sexually transmitted diseases that is if they use the online dating sites for sexual reasons (Couch). And the violent risk include getting stuck in an abusive relationship because someone can never really know a person just based off of online encounters and their match does not turn out to me who they say (Couch). All of these risks can be tied together for example if a person appears to be some they are not is lying and deceitful and these can lead to emotional abuse and possible physical abuse. Online dating is dangerous and extremely common in today’s society.
When it comes to how technology affects relationships, I found that 88% of American couples use the internet, 71% use social media sites and 93% have a cell phone (Lenhart), so technology is bound to have some effect because it is so prevalent. The impact that technology has seems to be pretty small considering that 72% of American couples say that the internet has “no real impact” and only 10% say it has a major impact and 17% say it has a “minor impact”. And of that 20% say that it has a negative impact (Lenhart). That negativity could come from jealousy on social media for example: if one significant other gets unwarranted attention from someone online it could lead to arguments that spark from jealousy and protectiveness. It can also come from trust issues from not sharing passwords which seems to be a trend considering that 67% of committed couples have shared a password with a partner(Lenhart). Technology has a clear effect regardless if it is negative or positive, it still plays a role in a couple’s relationship cycle.
People use social media as a place to meet new people, learn about them, and build a relationship with them. We can view a person’s whole “dreamspace” through their social media accounts (Leader). We are presented with personal information about a person but it is important to remember that it is not the entirety of that person. People tend to build their opinions off people based on what they see on social media, when they are truly not getting the whole picture (Leader). This can damage relationships and even prevent them from forming just because of people making snap decisions. That is the problem today people do not talk enough in person, they see a few photos and think they fully know a person and not even give them a chance. A way to change this is for people to stop using social media as the main platform in which they get to know each other.
Overall social media and technology change people’s lives everyday. Children are bullied and misuse technology, and adults build and ruin relationships. The best way to avoid the negatives of social media use is simply to educate people. Social media is so prominent in society today it must be taught how to be safely used at a young age. Adults now did not have the technology we have today growing up, but it is their responsibility to learn the dangers and safeties of it to protect themselves and today’s youth. If social media has such a great affect on people’s happiness, why would we not educate people on it?
Couch, Danielle, et al. “What Are the Real and Perceived Risks and Dangers of Online Dating? Perspectives from Online Daters.” Health, Risk & Society, vol. 14, no. 7-8, 2012, pp. 697–714., doi:10.1080/13698575.2012.720964.
Kross, Ethan, et al. “Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, 14 Aug. 2013, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0069841.
Leader, Jessica. “This Is How Technology Is Affecting Your Relationship.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 Oct. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/17/technology-changing-relationships_n_5884042.html.
Lenhart, Amanda, and Maeve Duggan. “Couples, the Internet, and Social Media.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 11 Feb. 2014, www.pewinternet.org/2014/02/11/couples-the-internet-and-social-media/.
McDool, Emily, et al. “Just an Hour a Day on Social Media Can Affect Kids’ Happiness.” Social Media Use and Children’s Wellbeing, Dec. 2016, pp. 1–26., ftp.iza.org/dp10412.pdf.
Ybarra, Michele Lynn. “Linkages between Depressive Symptomatology and Internet Harassment among Young Regular Internet Users.” Linkages between Depressive Symptomatology and Internet Harassment among Young Regular Internet Users, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2003, search-proquest-com.ezproxy.umw.edu/docview/288209996/.