What Do Social Media Do For/To You?

"Why is the relationship between social and psychological effects from social media so controversial?"

The Internet and social media have spawned significant chances in mass communication and interpersonal behavior. Since the creation of social networking services, they have constantly been developing and reproducing new services/media in which we as humans can share through. SNS such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, Google services, etc… have absolutely paved the way for virtual human interaction that cuts across geographic, time, and socioeconomic boundaries. In a world that defies these boundaries with a tool that can fit in the palm of your hand, we as humans need to recognize that we are living in two worlds: the real world and the virtual world. With the ability to effortlessly access the seemingly infinite amount of content on the Internet, we as users must be aware of how we use social media and what it does for us, or if social media is using us and what it does to us.

There is a reported 92% of teens (ages 13-17), 86% of young adults (ages 18-29), and 69% of American adults overall who use social media daily, its interesting to consider the various functions of the all of the different social media. (PewResearchCenter, 2017) The term double-edged sword refers to a situation in which the taken action has several consequences. The effects can be favorable and unfavorable to the knife holder, or in the case I am speaking of – the social media users. Several studies have indicated that excessive use of social media can be related to symptoms of depression and low self-esteem. (Pantic, 2014) Other studies have presented opposite results that have shown signs of positive impacts that result in career/hobby development and self-marketing, which is why the relationship between social and psychological effects from social media remains so controversial.

There are many demographics that play into a users function of social media, such as age, race, gender, income, education, and community. Taking into account that everyone is their own unique individual, various studies about social media show results that are wide ranged. One article states that a study done at the, “University of Michigan found that social media reflects and amplifies our culture’s growing levels of narcissism… using social media in different ways to boost one’s ego and control others’ perceptions of them.” (Bergland, 2013) Another article posted by CNN mentioned a study done by Common Sense Media that found that, “one in five teens said social media makes them feel more confident, compared with 4% who said it makes them feel less so.” (Wallace, 2014) Users also find many creative, unique outlets with social media that help promote themselves and a certain skill(s) they have. Many people see the takeoff of social media to be a perfect platform for entrepreneurship.

Student Researcher: Angus Lloyd Warner, University of Vermont, Major: Community and International Development

 Faculty Evaluator: Dr. Robert Williams, Professor and Social Media Dude, University of New Mexico

Sources: Forthcoming

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