The Impact of Social Media on Children Essay Example


Social Media of course has positive and negative effects that everyone some knowledge of. It can create safe groups for people and give information about things that no one had access to before. However, as the world knows, social media can also have heavy negative effects on people. Different research has concluded that its women that unfortunately affects women the most. Since the beginning of social media, we have seen a steady stream decline in mental health in women. Although social media of course hits everyone’s mental health, we start to see most of it affect women, starting at just a prepubescent age. From when they are kids to adulthood, women are the most harmed by social media than men are, especially women of color. Social media not only affects women more but is one of the major root causes of mental health issues and eating disorders. No matter what part of life they are in, women find themselves judged constantly on these apps. As someone who identifies as a woman and has been on social media since I was in middle school, I got to witness firsthand how social media affects someone’s relationship with themselves, especially at such a young and influential age. Social media perpetuates a very specific beauty standard that is repeatedly forced on women, 

In middle school when everyone first got on to social media. There was this website in which anyone could be anonymous and ask questions or comment on people’s pages. The main trend that people liked to participate in was rating every girl in their classes from 1-10, mostly based on how they look. We live in a society in which thinness is the ideal body image. This American body standard is constantly pushed on women who do not fit its tight mold. With this constant push of the ideal body, this early acceptance of rating people’s looks, and with the new generation being born right into technology were starting to see the harsh effects of social media happening earlier in age than ever. This idea of thinness is pushed by social media makes kids think it’s okay to base the worth of people, mostly women, on how they look. “A survey of pediatric hospitals found that hospitalizations of 5- to 17-year-olds for suicidal ideation or attempts doubled between 2008 and 2015; the CDC's research indicates that suicide has increased especially among teenage girls.” As stated by the Institute for Family Studies. They are having to hospitalize girls as young as 5 who are having to be hospitalized because of the effects that social media is having on them. We see women get praised and get money for posting pictures of themselves. This idea of a beauty standard is so normalized that young girls yearn for attention like that as social media grows to be more popular. When girls don’t meet those impossible standards, they feel that full rejection. With that, we start to see mental illness such as depression start to arise and sadly take a big toll on young girl’s mental health. We are starting to see mental illness form at a faster rate than ever before just from apps on a phone.

Children begin to establish this connection with social media since they are young. With this new form of attachment, they rely more on the people and things they see online than they do in real-life things. This issue starts a new form of anti-socialism. They lose their ability to fully connect with people in person. Many scientists have commented that the “use of smartphones has spread much faster than our understanding of its long-run impact on developing brains” This powerful statement is something that should be constantly told to parents. We don’t know how it truly affects children’s brains, only that the repercussions of allowing your child to constantly use social media, unregulated creates links to depression, anxiety, and very low self-esteem. Which creates the isolated influence of social media-based suicides. 

As women grow older, not only are people still being judged socially them on their body, but we now take into count, family. As social media starts to progress, we see more family accounts start to arise. Women are pushed to present to be the perfect mother and social media has made that a perfect place to show off. The toll of postpartum depression and constantly seeing only the great things about birth and being a parent puts a toll on women. “Nearly 40% said they thought idealized images of parenthood - and "over-sharening" - were fueling anxiety among new parents, while more than a third (36%) said they thought that baby bloggers and "Instamums" were contributing to rising rates of depression” states some research conducted from Priory. The pressure of looking good and feeling good, while also having children is derived from those rooted social media views of women and how they must be flawlessly beautiful at all times. There are a large number of women who are on YouTube, documenting their birth stories. While these women are in labor, they are putting on a full face of makeup to look good for the camera. The need to prioritize looking good first over their own well being can once again be found rooted in the beauty standards that are pushed by social media. Which once again brings in the harsh effects of mental illness of women not being able to live up to social media beauty standards on how their body should look and how they should act after pregnancy.

The media’s effect on women’s body image of course shows up in almost all women from all different backgrounds and cultures. However, we see many of those women affected are women of color. America’s social standards for women are based solely in Eurocentric features, unfortunately. So, from a young age woman of color are told they aren’t beautiful because they don’t meet any Eurocentric features. Alongside that, racism is allowed to run rampant online behind secret accounts. The University of Florida, in which they conducted research on minority women and media, states “Historically, African-American women have reported being comfortable with full figures and accepting a larger body type. Although, according to current research, this trend is reversing due to the acceptance of influences from the mass media to become thin. Since slavery, members of the African American community have been judged according to their physical appearances. Traits such as hair color and texture and skin color are still used as the basis of grouping and identification. Some African American women report the divide based on physical appearance still exists within their community. Many African-American women, in an attempt to alter their appearance to reach a goal they cannot attain, become dissatisfied with their physical appearance.” I am not a woman of color so, I can’t speak for them, but I have watched my peers slowly lose themselves to this idea that they aren’t beautiful. These women are told constantly by social media that they can never be the beauty standard, because they don’t see other women of color in that position on social media. 

As I have stated before, social media can be a good thing. People have found helpful support groups through it, they have been able to have opportunities that people couldn’t have the chance to have, and there is so much information that everyone can have access to. However, there are gender dynamics in society that have also unfortunately carried out into social media. Social media has pushed the idea of women standards so higher than before. Social media has made mental illness in women skyrocket, it has made an impossible beauty standard for young girls which directly resulted in eating disorder to become extremely high, and social media has hurt women of color the most, refusing to even help them with their mental health issues. Although its hard to create a solution for such a big influence. I think that we need regulation on social media, something to keep the kids from fully getting addicted to it so early in life. I also believe that we should now implement an education class on the effects of social media and mental health. We must inform not only our parents but kids that the content they see on social media isn’t true and that their posts and words have influence. Women’s mental health is hit hardest from social media and there is something that needs to be done about it.

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