Since the early decades of the 21st century, social media has become an important part of our lives. This has brought a big change in the way we behave in society. It is used by people of every class, strata, and profession. Even prominent politicians of the country and world, personalities associated with the film and sports worlds, intellectuals, writers, and famous businessmen also use it. Young people are more interested in it.
Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Tik-Tok, and Snapchat are the major platforms of social media networks. With their help, we can connect with the whole world, make new friends and find old ones just by sitting in the same room.
One can learn about the perspectives of various scholars on the subject. Nowadays, students at colleges and universities usually send readable materials like notes, etc. to each other through WhatsApp only on the days of exams, which saves time and resources.
But despite these advantages, social media is also harmful to youth in many ways. Many mischievous people spread objectionable content like obscenity, political slander, communal hatred, fake news and rumours with the help of these social sites, and many people, without any research, knowing any truth, without any second thought, forward such content, which creates an atmosphere of conflict in society. Mostly, youths are more affected by this.
On March 15, 2019, a 28-year-old lone youth in Christchurch, New Zealand, fired indiscriminately at two mosques there and broadcast it live on Facebook. In this attack, 51 people were killed and 49 were injured. Later, the government there declared it a terrorist attack.
Due to the live broadcast of this incident, various questions were raised about the performance of Facebook. Similarly, the young do not fix any time limit or place regarding the use of social media. Unnecessary use of mobile phones and computers for many hours has an adverse effect on the eyes and brain.
Social media takes us away from reality and into a fake world. In the lure of likes and comments on Facebook and Instagram, young people share pictures just for show, which have nothing to do with their real life.
Teenagers are highly influenced by social media. It has a strong influence on the teens' behavior. On the surface, social media is a platform where we can communicate with our friends and relatives and share what's going on in our lives in order to build a diversified web community. However, if you scratch beneath the surface, you'll discover a quite different story.
In the same way, the youth do not refrain from using foul language during discussions on any issue on social media platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram. Because of this, many intelligent people shy away from expressing their opinions on social media.
The video sharing app Tik Tok has also been accused of serving a lot of obscene content on it. Also, a woman named Heena Darvesh, a Mumbai-resident and a mother of three children, filed a petition on November 11 in the Bombay High Court demanding a ban on Tik Tok. She claims that this app has a bad effect on the minds of youth and children and is a waste of time, money, and resources. In April of the same year, after a petition filed in the Madras High Court, the central government banned it, which was later lifted.
Despite the fact that former US President Donald Trump banned the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat in the US, Vice President Joe Biden later revoked Trump's executive order.
Another negative effect of social media that is gaining popularity is being called "Snapchat Dysmorphia." Plastic surgery is becoming more popular among younger people, especially among adolescents, who want to seem more like the idealized pictures they create using filters on their smartphones.
This problem, which has been called "Snapchat dysmorphia," is caused by the fact that Snapchat and Instagram both have filters that let users change the color of their skin as well as the shape and features of their faces and other body parts.
Because social media is accessible and uncontrolled, young people are more vulnerable to cyberbullying and harassment. An increasing percentage of parents have children who have been victims of cyberbullying, according to an Ipsos worldwide research of people in 28 countries.
When kids publish photographs and videos on the internet, anybody with malevolent intent may rapidly access them and use them to threaten and harass the teens themselves. As a consequence, internalizing issues and even suicidal thoughts are widespread among teens.
In today's modern and technological era, we cannot stay away from social media. This is the need of the hour and should be used. But at the same time, it is our duty to use it within the rules. Let's be responsible citizens and not share objectionable content. Let's prove to be civilized by talking politely even with a person who has a different opinion from us.
Any news that reaches us through social media should be verified through official sources, and beware of mischievous elements spreading rumours. In this way, we can contribute to restoring the credibility of social media.
To put it another way, using social media is a double-edged sword. It has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and it is almost totally dependent on how the user interacts with the platform.
If used effectively, it can be a powerful tool for elevating your voice and increasing your company. But if you use it to figure out how you feel about yourself, you'll fall into its trap and end up with anxiety, depression, or even dysmorphia.
Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Canada