In our society today, how is the mass use and overabundance of social media affecting the latest generation? In previous generations, this was a problem that no one had to deal with as social media, even most computers, were unused by the general majority of the population. However, with Facebook, Snapchat, and all others forms of online connectivity are available for everyone, there is a whole new generation growing up in a social media saturated world. Most would say that the use of social media is corrupting the new generation. Some people may believe that using social media is doing little to no harm on the new generation. In this day of age, social media is causing younger people to struggle in their social development and have delayed growth because of it.
As humans begin to grow during the development process, the relationships humans form greatly affect how they socially develop. Humans have a psychological need to form relationships with and socialize with others. It is the way people learn to fight a bully or find their one true love in the large sea of people. Without learning these lessons, one would not know how to act in social situations and have a harder time when interacting with others.
However, in recent years with the rise of social media, multiple problems have been on the rise. People have not been able to receive certain social skills they need to develop to become functioning adults. This was not a problem back when one had to actually go and talk with others for social interaction, but now people can choose to only communicate with others online. Nobody is forced to receive that in-person group experience that one may normally be pushed to receive (Konnikova 239). This leads to many who choose to communicate mostly online to have less social lessons learned, like being generous to others or how to act when confronted with a bully. They are not receiving the necessary information to interact with others effectively. These people also tend to form less real world bonds. A large majority of people have trouble in social situations as and have trouble interacting with others in a social group. These skills need to be developed early in a human's life as well. Developing these skills later in life are more difficult as the brain is already fully developed.
Confirming that people need social interaction to develop properly, an experiment was done by American psychologist Harry Harlow. Part of the set of experiments involved isolating the young monkeys from their mothers and other young monkeys. After about 90 days, the monkeys were left permanently damaged by the experiment (Kozlow 1). When Harlow tried to introduce other monkeys to the damaged one, it would freak out not knowing how to handle itself in the situation. The monkey could no longer make new social connections.
One thing that social media cannot solve, at least in the near future, is the feeling of touch which humans need. One experiment performed by Oxford professor Dr. Robin Dunbar found that, similar to primates, humans need to feel a sense of touch. He found that endorphins were activated whenever someone had received even the slightest touching sensation. (Konnikova 238)
In a similar study, Harlow had found supporting evidence in his experiment. He set up two separate rooms. One room had a fake mother made out of the cloth blanket that the baby monkey was born in, but this mother could not feed the baby. The other room had another fake mother but made out of metal and wires, but with could feed. He would take the monkey and give it the choice between the clothed mother and the metal mother. The baby would almost always choose the clothed mother despite the physical need to be fed by the other mother. Harlow then continued the experiment by putting the clothed mother and the metal mother in separate rooms, but both mothers were now able to feed. He then took two baby monkeys and put them into the two rooms without giving them a choice. The monkeys both were fed well but the one with the metal mother was traumatized. When put in a room with others, the monkey would freak out and avoid any interaction with the others. Without that sense of touch, it had no idea how to interact with others. This helps to show just how important a sense of touch at an early age is.
On the other hand, many may claim that social media could not possibly ruin the future generation. For starters, most have not fully grown up in a world filled with social media. The newest generation is born in a world with social media and is able to adapt to this new form of life. (Konnikova 239). This generation can develop the skills needed as they had not lived in a world without social media. Having social media everywhere in today's world, there are few that would have not been exposed to social media already. The select few that are not initiated can also easily be connected as almost everything in the world is connected to the internet and social media.
The only problem with this point is currently being observed and does not seem to be so good. Adolescents are already being observed to have a delayed transition that could very well be from social media (Henig 206). With social media, many do not feel they need to develop a more vast social life. There is little to no drive to go out and make something of oneself if they can pop open Facebook and feel gratified for however many followers or friends they have.
Social media prevents people from going out and developing social skills they will need for a future career. An employer would not want to hire someone who has a hard time working with others. Many in this generation live with this as a problem because they do not go out a learn how to interact with others on a regular basis.
Despite the belief that social media is not doing any harm, it is apparent that many consequences have begun to occur. Most people on social media don't have the opportunity to learn very important life lessons. The internet is also completely unable to provide many things that humans require to grow and develop in to strong, persistent adults. Without the need or desire to go outside and play with friends, the new generations may be severely handicapped compared to generations before. Before letting a child go on social media too much, think about the potential negative effects a will leave behind.
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Henig, Robin Marantz. What Is It About 20-Somethings? The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Aug. 2010.
Konnikova, Maria. The Limits of Friendship. The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 20 June 2017.
Kozlow, Boris . Adoption History: Harry Harlow, Monkey Love Experiments. European Imperialism, 2012.