Disadvantages of Using Social Media: a Research-Based Study

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Social media helps connect people within every nook and cranny of the world, allowing people, especially adolescents, to develop their communication, technical, and social connection skills. But, social media can also have a very negative effect on individuals. Except the whole list of advantages, there are plenty of disadvantages of social media that are reveled in this essay.

Social media refers to “...any web site that allows social interaction…”, so Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, the Sims, Minecraft, Snapchat, etc. all qualify as social media platforms. Currently, around 87% of adolescents use the internet (ages 12-17) and over 50% of those use it daily. Researchers have conducted studies that have shown why social media platforms, like those listed and accessed so frequently above, are helpful in today’s world, however, the research also indicates that they seem to have more negative effects on individuals than positive effects. In this essay about disadvantages of social media, we’ll look at how social media influences the everyday life of adolescents and why it’s a bad thing.

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Social Media: Proven Disadvantages

In a study conducted using 467 Scottish adolescents, it was proven that overall sleep quality and self-esteem are greatly influenced by social media. The chance of adolescents having anxiety and depression also increases, depending on the amount of social media interaction they take part in each day. In the study, Scott and Woods gave questionnaires to the 467 Scottish adolescents participating in the study; each questionnaire addressed poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, an adolescent’s emotional investment in social media, and whether or not they used social media more frequently and for longer periods of time during the day or at night. The results of the study indicate that the more social media interactions someone has throughout the day, the poorer their sleep quality is; this was shown by “overall social media use” and “poor sleep quality” having a positive correlation (r = 24) within the study. The time of day in which people access social media also influences their sleep quality, with late night interactions having a high correlation (r = 34) to poor sleep quality. These interactions, along with a strong emotional investment in social media, lead to adolescents having higher levels of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Social media is great when it comes to connecting individuals socially, but it can very easily lead to re-occurring cyberbullying as well. Cyberbullying is defined as “...deliberately using digital media to communicate false, embarrassing or hostile information about another person”. Renee Garett, Lynwood Lord, and Sean Young looked at papers pertaining to cyberbullying and social media and found that social media interactions more often than not lead to cyberbullying. Each paper ended up coming to the consensus that cyberbullying only really affects adolescents as well. These findings were supported by a study carried out by Grace Kwan and Marko Skoric. According to Kwan and Skoric, individuals who use Facebook more frequently are more likely to be cyberbullied than those who use it less. Cyberbullying is a major issue that social media reduction or elimination could fix.

In addition to the above disadvantages of social media in this essay, social media also influences the type of behavior adolescents exhibit. Lael Yonker, Shiyi Zan, Christina Scirica, Kamal Jethwani, & T Bernard Kinane conducted a meta-analysis study to examine the effects of social media on the health outcomes of young adults. The meta-analysis showed that the “...normalization of high-risk behaviors is not limited to alcohol alone. The use of tobacco and other drugs, violence, sexual behavior, and even suicidality are also commonly displayed on social media platforms'. It’s because of these social media platforms that around 54% of adolescents are displaying risky behaviors, specifically those related to substance abuse and sexual behaviors. Social media only increases the chances that adolescents will develop risky behaviors.

In conclusion, social media may help adolescents develop their communication, technical, and social connection skills, but it also leads to poorer sleep quality, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, cyberbullying, and substance abuse. As more research is conducted into the effects of social media use, whether it’s going on Twitter, Instagram, etc. during the day or at night, people need to start taking the side effects more seriously. It is important to remember that social media isn’t entirely bad though. It has lead to consumers being able to obtain materials with ease, allowed social connections to form, and lead to increased communication between individuals, but, the disadvantages of social media drown out the advantages, which is why it’s bad for us.  

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