It is widely known that the use of the internet and social media has risen massively in the last few years. It’s important to recognise social media and the dangers online.
From Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, social media is becoming a huge part of people’s everyday life and this is shown in shocking statistics showing how often people actually use these platforms.
Due to the drastic increase in social media use, there are many dangers to being online and being on social media.
The Global Digital Report 2018 gives insight to the use of social media around the world. One of the findings from this report was that there are 3.196 billion social media users worldwide. there is a rise of a whopping 13%, meaning more and more people are using social media every year, every day, every week.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia and Ghana have been recognised as having the largest yearly increase in the social media users. This is due to advancements in technology and social media becoming more accessible.
Facebook is the most dominant form of social media out there at the moment, with Facebook itself and Facebook messenger being the 1st and 2nd most used networks. In 2018 79% of the UK population used Facebook.
The above picture shows that facebook is clearly the most popular social media platform out there.
‘I send a few Whatsapps a day, and then in the evening I play games and check instagram and twitter and facebook.’ Cheryl Gauden, a resident in Canterbury, claims she doesn’t use social media often, but even still, social media networking sights are still a big part of her day. It is almost a necessity nowadays to be checking your social media.
Young People and Social Media
With social media being on the rise, it means that children are beginning to use social networking sites at a younger age. As it says above, a whopping 35% of 8-11 year olds already have their own mobile phone.
Children are becoming more exposed to the dangers online. Child groomers are constantly contacting young children online, with most of them trying to gain the trust of the child by pretending to be someone they are not.
Tik Tok was brought out in 2009 and it allows people to make videos and post them for your followers and potentially others to see. This social media platform is said to be one for child predators as Tik Tok have actually been collecting children under 13’s personal information without any parental consent, making it easier for child predators to choose their targets.
— Adweek (@Adweek) 5 April 2019
A reporter from BBC trending, Marco Silva, said that he found hundreds of sexual comments written on the videos that were uploaded by teenagers and he reported them immediately. Although most of the comments were deleted or reported after only being on there for 24 hours, the accounts that were responsible for these comments are still active on the site and could potentially be continuing to do so on other videos.
‘Around one in five 12-15s (22%) who opted to answer the question said they had been contacted online by someone they didn’t know, and one in ten (9%) said they had seen something of a sexual nature that made them feel uncomfortable, either online or on their mobile phone.’
These statistics come from a report carried out by OfCom about the media use and how it effects young children and their parents.
‘Jasleen (aged 15) chose to keep her Snapchat profile public because she enjoyed being able to share her stories openly, and often received compliments for them. However, that also meant that she regularly received unsolicited, inappropriate messages from boys she didn’t know.’
Although some children are aware that they shouldn’t talk to strangers online, they are not always aware of how to prevent strangers coming to them. On social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, it is vital to keep your profile private so not everyone can see your posts. This is where the dangers of child predators come from, when children are making their profiles accessible to anyone and everyone.
Social Media on Mental Health
Social media is also a factor to causing mental health problems or making them worse.
There are many reasons that this could happen one of them being bulling online. Also known as Cyber Bullying.
Cyber bullying is effecting teens and adolescents and it can be very damaging for them. It can lead to anxiety, depression and in some cases it can lead to suicide. A study has shown that young people especially are twice as likely to commit suicide or self harm if they have been bullied online.
“Suicide prevention and intervention is essential within any comprehensive anti-bullying programme and should incorporate a whole-school approach to include awareness raising and training for staff and pupils”.
Professor Ann John, of Swansea University Medical School, led the study and agrees that in regards to cyber bullying and the damage it may cause, more needs to be done to prevent this. Especially in schools as thats where it occurs the most.
Seeing and comparing yourself to other people online can have a massive effect on someone’s self esteem. A study that was conducted by the University of Copenhagen, showed that many social media users suffer from something called ‘facebook envy.’ Watching the ‘perfect’ lives of those people they follow on social media can cause them to think bad of themselves and make them feel sad and down because they don’t have what other people have.
Another way in which your mental health can be effected by this is due to it causing lack of sleep. Everyone is guilty of laying in bed wide awake, distracted by everything that is going on online and before you know it, it’s 4am and you still aren’t asleep.
On average, a healthy adult should get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night and even more if you are a teen or a child. Studies have showed that an estimate of 65% to 90% of adult patients who have major depression suffer from a sleeping problem.
It is so important to remember that what you see on social media isn’t always the truth. It is easy to portray certain things online that might be exaggerated to what they are like in real life. For example, if you’re a girl and you see a girl who is slim, has a perfect figure, perfect hair, perfect everything. Do not be fooled. Just because they portray themselves as being ‘perfect’ online, does not mean that is the case in real life.
Always be aware of how social media is really effecting you. Don’t let social networking sites take over your life, people managed to survive without it before, so I’m sure people can survive without them again.