Persuasive Folio Essay – 231 people aged between 10 and 19 committed suicide in Britain in 2015. 22% of these victims had suffered abuse or neglect, which leaves 78% victims taking their own lives for another reason. Somehow these statistics wouldn’t be surprising in our society anymore, we hear about people overdosing on drugs and taking their own lives every day in the media. Social media influencers like Kylie Jenner and The Victoria Secret Angels all label themselves as “influencers” but what are they really influencing? – A certain body image to look up to and inspire to be, this is one of the main causes of these teen suicides and a prime example of social media being used in the wrong way. In my opinion social media is a great and modern way to connect with people and is more of a positive rather than a negative. However the “influencers” and many people among us using it in the wrong way may be costing people their lives.
Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. These are all social media platforms that have forced their way into our everyday lives; our generation have developed a smartphone obsession. The average British teen checks their phone 28 times a day. Those who spend five or more hours a day on their phones, 48% of them have suicide related health problems (almost half). On the other hand, those who spend two or less hours on their phone a day seemed to lead happier lives. Does this mean we should ban social media all together? Of course not. Social media has many benefits that may not completely over power all the negatives, as a society need to learn how to use it correctly. In such a way that no one is suffering. We cannot deny that previous generations haven’t had idolized body images affecting us because they did. It just wasn’t staring at us through a screen for hours a day.
In the past 25 years mental health rates have risen by 70%. This furthermore proves our parents and grandparents weren’t nearly half as depressed or anxiety prone as we are. The increase of social media and mental health have an undeniable link. Most of our grandparents and parents wouldn’t have grown up with more than one tv in their house, apart from that it was only magazines and newspapers that would have been forcing the ideal body image on them. In our grandparents age Audrey Hepburn and Marylin Monroe (who they only would have seen in magazines and on TV) would have been what they aspired to look like – now its Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski. The main difference is that we see photographs and videos of these models every day, pushing us into buying products to make us look like them, and we think of this as normal? It shouldn’t be. This is another example of the fantastic creation of social media being used wrong.
50% of Britain’s teenagers aged between 12 and 20 have experienced some form of bullying. 17% of these bullying incidents have happened through social media. The effect of social media being used negatively towards a teen who may already be going through stress of exams or even problems at home can have a life changing impact, pushing them to turn towards drugs, alcohol or some other unfavorable alternative. School teach us to not bully and that social media is bad, but do they really go into enough detail? One joke can lead to the loss of a life. One photo can lead to a teen never leaving the house again. Do we really understand the consequences of not using out phones correctly? Maybe it’s time we take a break.
Some celebrities and doctors have become aware of these problems. I have heard of people taking “social media breaks” to improve their mental states. This shows the amount of stress that it’s putting on people. Big names like Taylor Swift have been known to take these breaks from their Instagram and Twitter accounts. It hugely affects their fans around them and conjures up hundreds of conspiracy theories (pregnancy rumors and stalker incidents) when all that’s wrong is people using their platforms negatively, therefore causing too much stress for our idols to cope with. It’s almost as if you don’t post regularly on social media you’ve fallen off the face of the earth. I think that breaks from the unnecessary stress of social media can be a good thing and will help make it a safer place and reduce the negativity it brings to us.
In conclusion, when social media is used correctly it has great positives and can be a great advantage to us, from finding out what your new favorite song it to facetiming family from across the world. However to successfully be able to keep using it we will need to start using to correctly before it ruins our lives completely.