Social media. It’s all we hear about. The end of decent conversations and strong family relationships. In society, we assume that the problem with technology and the virtual world we now live in is that it causes our children’s grades to suffer, teenagers to become anti-social and adults to become lazy. Our views need to be broadened, as social media isn’t just a platform for exposing celebrities and keeping up to date with news. Teens themselves need to understand the impact it has on them, and actually do what they can to stop their lives from being negatively affected by it.

One of the most frequent ways we use social media, and one that causes a large amount of controversy, is meeting new people. Making ‘friends’ online, who may turn out to be lying about who they are or manipulating children is one of the biggest worries British parents have. Everyone has heard stories of catfishes and sexual predators targeting underage children online, but some people have, understandably, let these anecdotes and experiences cloud their judgement. For people taking care of their information and what is shared online, social media can be a beautiful thing. For teenagers, this is a way for them not only to broaden and vary their friends, but also to instantly find people who share interests with them, instead of restricting the people they are friends with to just people they are placed with in school. To take caution, social media accounts can be set to private, and people can be sure not to share too much information about themselves without knowing for sure that they are talking to who they think they are.

I interviewed a teenager who used to be, but is no longer an avid social media user, and she explained the reasoning behind her leaving her online accounts. “This is going to sound really cliché, but to spend more time with my family and to detach myself from the virtual world because it was literally consuming my life.” She originally joined her favourite sites in order to have a closer relationship with the celebrities she looked up to, but soon found herself immersed in new friends and placing social media at a higher priority than her schoolwork and procrastinating doing her homework. “I felt like it was getting to be too much because that’s all I ended up thinking about.” She continued, stating how she felt it had an equally positive and negative impact on teenagers.

Social media will always cause controversy, but as with everything, it shares both pros and cons and as we now live in a very technological age, we should try to find ways to accept it how it is and educate ourselves on safety and the ways we can receive help if we ever find ourselves in tough situations online.

Yasmin Ammour - Norbury Manor BEC