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The Toxicity of Social Media

Leah Ally

Volume 4 Issue 4

May 29, 2024

The Toxicity of Social Media

Image Provided by Elaine Ching

It is no mystery that we are living in a world full of technology, with unlimited access to millions of websites and apps that have shaped our world over the past few decades. With the rise of the internet, social media apps such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have also gained popularity among millions of users. Young teens are the most active on these apps and are heavily influenced by what they see online whether posted by their peers or strangers. Regardless of age or maturity, it is crucial to understand the numerous effects of creating a social media account. While social media can be beneficial in numerous ways with entertainment and staying connected to others, it can also encourage cyberbullying, create unsafe environments, and may be addictive.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, cyberbullying is “the use of information technology to bully a person by sending or posting text or images of an intimidating or threatening nature.” Bullying has always been prevalent in schools and workplaces, but it can now occur through your computer screen or cellphone. The reason cyberbullying is so common is because it can be done at anytime, anywhere, and to anyone (Peebles 1). With anonymous users and no supervision, online bullying makes for an easy form of harassment. Like traditional bullying, racial discrimination, gender bias, or differences in religion are the most popular causes of taunting online. Victims of cyberbullying often face self-esteem issues, mental health struggles, and even thoughts of hurting themselves or others. While telling a trusted adult or blocking their bully is best to resolve these issues, many kids feel ashamed to do so. Additionally, some may even feel that telling a parent or guardian may risk getting their online privileges taken away. However, safety is the most important priority, and reaching out for help, not engaging with the bully, and saving evidence are the best ways to address it.

One of the primary concerns regarding social media is the issue of privacy. Users often share personal information, photos, and updates without fully considering the consequences. This oversharing can leave many people vulnerable to identity theft, online scams, and even real-life threats such as stalking. The ease with which personal information can be accessed and exploited on social media platforms underscores the importance of being cautious about what we share online. It is important to have strong passwords, avoid clicking on random links, and be wary of phone calls from unrecognizable numbers (FDIC 1). Another significant challenge posed by social media is the spread of misinformation and fake news. With the rise of algorithm-driven content, false information can quickly go viral and influence public opinion. This not only erodes trust in traditional media sources but also undermines critical thinking and informed decision-making. The prevalence of misinformation on social media can create a climate of confusion and distrust, compromising the quality of public discourse. It is best to get your news from sources that have a long-standing reputation for accurate and reliable coverage. Furthermore, the culture of comparison and validation driving social media can have detrimental effects on users' mental health. The pressure to present an idealized version of one's life online can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and even anxiety or depression. The constant exposure to curated images of success, beauty, and happiness can distort perceptions of reality and contribute to a sense of disconnection and isolation among users. 

Body image issues are prevalent among impressionable teens which often results in eating disorders that can be detrimental both physically and mentally. It is important to avoid measuring up to unrealistic standards and to understand that social media often portrays a curated version of people’s lives.  

Social media addiction is a topic that has caused much concern for as long as it has been around. It refers to the excessive and compulsive use of social media apps that can have negative effects on mental health, relationships, and overall well-being. Internet addiction can have a variety of causes, including the fear of missing out, boredom, and the stream of social connections (Jelinek). With constant notifications, texts, and features such as likes, users can stay engaged as it triggers a sense of pleasure and reward. Additionally, social media has become a center for communication and popular trends which further encourages users to urgently stay connected and be “part of the crowd.” Besides spending excessive amounts of time on social media there are numerous other signs of addiction. For instance, neglecting face-to-face interactions, feeling irritable without social media, and experiencing a seemingly uncontrollable decline in productivity are signs of addiction. Limiting screen time and setting boundaries can solve these issues while also finding new activities that bring satisfaction.  

With balance, social media can have numerous benefits. For instance, it allows connection between friends and family especially if they may live far away. We can easily share our thoughts, experiences, and photos with others, fostering a sense of community. With a platform for self-expression, creativity, and discovering new interests, it is easy to be inspired by the actions of others. Whether it is staying informed about current events, finding resources about various topics, or connecting with a community to find support, a healthy balance in using social media can enhance our lives.  

All in all, there are numerous factors to understand and acknowledge about social media. It is necessary to prioritize safety, mental health, and moderation when using the internet as it can quickly become a toxic environment. Struggles with navigating the online world are common, however, there are always solutions to overcome and improve social media safety. With balance, the internet can be an exciting place for entertainment and information.  



Sources: FDIC: Avoiding Scams and Scammers 

                  Is there a link between social media and depression? ( 

                 Bullying | Crisis Text Line 

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