The Comet

Social dilemma

Rosebelle Toledo, Reporter

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Pinterest. Facebook. Instagram. Musical.ly. Twitter. YouTube. Snapchat. Tumblr. Reddit. WhatsApp. LinkedIn. Most teenagers at Chanute High School are part of the 85 percent worldwide who have access to the internet and have used at least one of these social networking sites.

As the use of social media continues to rise, the influences of its use have recently become a topic of debate. While research is still in its infancy, early results are eye opening.

Some of the most extensive research involves social networking addiction, which is a compulsion to use social media excessively – constantly checking new Facebook statuses or stalking people’s profiles on Instagram for hours on end.

According to a study from Common Sense Media in 2015, teens are spending more than one-third of their day, nearly nine hours, using media such as online video, social media apps, and listening to music.

A Pew Research Center study reported in April 2015 that 92 percent of teenagers go online daily, with 71 percent using more than one social media site. 24 percent of the teens surveyed said they went online “almost constantly.”

A report by Statista found that in the first quarter of 2017, Snapchat users were sending over 3 billion snaps each day, up from 2.5 billion daily snaps in the third quarter of 2016.

“I’m on my social media a lot, mainly Snapchat and Instagram,” junior Kiley Smoot admits.

While social networking plays a role in widening social connections and learning technical skills, critics argue its risks should not be overlooked. The lack of susceptibility to peer pressure and easy access makes adolescents and teens vulnerable to cyberbullying, self-esteem issues, anxiety, and many other psychological problems.

The American Psychological Association defines bullying as aggressive behavior by an individual that causes repeated discomfort to another. Cyberbullying can range from direct threats and unpleasant emails to anonymous and deliberately offensive activities, such as ‘trolling’.

Many teenagers spend their time on social media, like Snapchat, to publicly drag and shame their fellow classmates with trends like ‘tbh’s’ (To be honest) and rating others based on attractiveness.

The consequence of cyberbullying can be life changing and may lead to severe psychological problems that could require medical interventions. The individualistic nature of social media networking activities makes it difficult to recognize victims, but tell-tale signs include sudden change of behavioral patterns.

“I feel like it influences my thoughts about things. I see other people’s opinions that they put on social media and it influences my own thoughts,” junior McKenna Tait said.

Chanute High School students are not exempt to the issue. Out of 74 responders to a survey sent out to CHS students, 19 admitted to posting something negative. One CHS student even admitted that their time on Snapchat consists of seeing “people bashing other people on their stories.”

A 2016 study by researchers at Penn State University indicated that viewing other people’s selfies lowered self-esteem due to users comparing themselves to photos of people looking their happiest.

“When people are on social media, they always try to look their best and look better than other people,” senior Breana Wrabek said.

Research from multiple universities also found that women compare themselves negatively to selfies of other women.

A study published in the journal “Computers and Human Behaviour” found that teens who use seven or more social media platforms are three times more likely to experience general anxiety symptom.

“I think it is often abused. I have recently gotten rid of most of my social media. I have realized that my anxiety got so much lower after deleting Facebook and Instagram,” a CHS student who responded anonymously to the Comet survey said.

“I honestly miss the olden days when people wrote each other letters instead of using social media to make contact,” junior Britany Angleton said.

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Social dilemma