Social media platforms do more harm than good [column] | Local Voices

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In 2002, the first popular social media platform, Friendster, was created. This platform allowed users to connect with friends, share content and discover new people online.

Now, social media have blossomed into one of the most popular forms of electronic communication in the world.

But are social media beneficial, or too harmful?

Over the past few years, social media have become platforms that are more toxic and negative than they are positive.

As one example, social media have led many users to have negative self-images of their bodies. A 2018 article on the health website Emotion Matters states, “Studies show that 88% of women compare themselves to images they observe on social media.” This was also found to be the case with 65% of men.

Social media have also been responsible for a lot of problematic and/or dangerous trends.

In 2021, a challenge known as “devious lick” went viral on TikTok. It involved students posting videos of themselves stealing items from schools and other public places. The theft and vandalism caused tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

Another dangerous trend that went viral on TikTok was 2020’s “ ‘Cha Cha Slide’ challenge.” In this trend, young people would follow the instructions of the popular dance song while driving. Media outlets reported on the life-threatening dangers of the challenge, and some videos were removed from social media sites to counter its popularity.

Finally, social media have affected many users’ mental health, causing a rise in anxiety and depression.

“The rate of individuals reporting symptoms consistent with major depression … increased 52% in adolescents from 2005 to 2017 (from 8.7% to 13.2%) and 63% in young adults age 18 to 25 from 2009 to 2017 (from 8.1% to 13.2%),” the American Psychological Association noted in 2019, citing new studies. The incidence of anxiety has also significantly increased.

There have also been incidents on TikTok of users faking that they have the neurological disorder Tourette syndrome, which has led to some people who actually have that disorder being disbelieved.

While social media may have been created to make communication easier, social media have actually hurt more people than they have helped.

Aubrey Bickford is in the 11th grade at Solanco High School.

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