How Does Social Media Influence the Teens of Today? Research Paper

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Harvey Mudd College
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Research paper
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The use of social media has taken the lives of teenagers by storm. Approximately 90% of teens in America are active users, the teenagers have overtaken other age groups in embracing this innovative media (Lenhart 21). Despite the high prevalence, it should not come as a surprise that teachers, the popular press, and guardians have raised concerns about the influence on interpersonal interactions and social-skill development by social media on teens.

Such issues often are put forward in the form of questions relating to the impact of social media on the evolving intellect of teenagers. However, few types of research have investigated the neural mechanisms fundamental surrounding use of social media (Choudhury and McKinney 192-215). There is a neural correlation in understanding the use of social media among the adolescent since they are passionate users of the platform. Also, the adolescence period involves a stage of social cognitive development and theoretically entails a sensitive time when teens get distinctively adjusted to the interpersonal affairs complexities (Blakemore and Mills 187-207). Therefore, this essay will focus on the changes brought in the brains of teenagers because of the use of social media while looking at the general influence of social media in the society.

Literature Review

A study done recently at the UCLA brain mapping center involving 32 teenagers, applied the use of an fMRI scanner in getting the teens brain images as they employed a bespoke similar to Instagram social media app. While the teens used the app, the researchers observed the activity in various regions of their brain. It was astonishing as the findings revealed that the reward center of the brain became active, as the teens got likes from the bespoke social media app. Greater activations were evident upon receipt of more likes on their pictures as reported by one of the researchers Lauren Sherman. The similar group of regions found in the brain respond when we earn money or when viewing pictures of those we love (East 3). Scans performed revealed that a part of the reward circuitry of the brain, the nucleus accumbens, is especially lively when the teenagers saw their photos getting a huge number of likes. The outcome would entail the teens getting inspired to frequently using social media (Sherman et al. 65).

Research on influence among peers

The teens who participated in the experiment were shown a number of "neutral" photos such as those containing food and friends, together with "risky" images portraying alcohol and cigarettes (Ehmke 86). Nevertheless, this kind of pictures had little, or no influence on the amount of likes obtained provided by the teenagers. The teens were as an alternative, irrespective of what they displayed, likely to 'like' the new famous photographs. The result is either a negative or a positive effect from their online peers (Sherman et al. 20).

Influence on social learning on teenagers

The adolescence stage entails a lot of social learning, as teens try to adjust to the various happenings around them based on their different cultures. The emergence of social media has made people learn more about interpreting shares and likes as opposed to facial expressions according to Sherman. He continues to confirm that to ascertain the effectiveness of one's message posted online; the solution lies in the number of favorites, likes and shares and retweets received. The technique of identifying effectiveness is rather unique and different within the online interaction platform (Mills 385-387).

Influence on the brain

Dumontheil concurs with the fact that the use of social media affects the brain and in particular its plasticity. The plasticity of the brain entails the manner in which the brain changes and develops after undergoing different effects within its surrounding. Anything new learned or experienced gets encoded inside the brain that leads to subtle variations in the power of networks among neurons according to Dumontheil. For instance, a particular research discovered that the white matter found in the brains of grown-ups progressively transformed as they became knowledgeable on how to juggle as changes could be observed in the structure of their brain in a few months' time. Time used up on social media by teens could also make the brain get altered as well as develop. Dumontheil confirms that the ability to read facial expression may get impacted negatively in the process of interaction on social media, but we become better at monitoring the trends within our cluster of friends.


The Critical Theory

The Frankfurt School's members developed the critical theory. It focused on the impact of capitalism by Karl Marx that was corrosive to the way of life in the society. The theory by the members of the Frankfurt school believed that the social media was a powerful tool used in controlling the beliefs of individuals through the use of mass media just like capitalism-influenced beliefs. Therefore, the critical theory asserts that the social media is a tool used in communication of particular political ideologies to the society and is a very powerful tool (Turow, 139).

Lippman's Agenda Setting Theory

According to Lippmann, the media is the principal source of all information we see hear and synthesize. Therefore, according to his agenda-setting theory, the media creates concepts, ideas, and notions into our heads regarding the things happening around the world and all this he termed as agenda setting or media propaganda (Turow, 126). Therefore, the influence of social and mass media targets forming ideas into the heads of individuals' without them knowing it as it chooses content hence shaping the thinking of the society.

The communication industry and social media influence on teens

The production entails several aspects such as the radio industry, newspaper, magazine, television, and the recording industry. The main agenda for the communication industry requires provision of information to the teens among other audiences. However, attempts to control content shared has remained a big challenge to the players in the communication industry (Sherman et al. 53). The availability of explicit content destroys the morals of the society when exposed to teenagers. Also, the availability of drug-related content encourages usage, and it affects the moral judgment that is underdeveloped among teens.

Academic address on the Issue

The existence of mass media as a course in the curriculum has enabled the sharing of information relating to the influence of social media on the teenagers.

The positive and negative impact of social media

Social media has an extraordinary power in trade or business, on our culture and the society. Web sites of social media top the list of the most common hangouts on the Internet (Boykin). It has revolutionized several aspects of the way individuals communicate on the web. Below is a detailed look at the influence of social media on business, socialization and politics in addition to the negative impacts such as online harassment and cyberbullying, a false sense of connection reduced productivity and lack of privacy.

The Positive Influence

Impact on PoliticsSocial media has provided a platform where like-minded individuals can meet to broaden their personal awareness, engage in significant discussions alongside exploring new things. For example, it has been noted that currently due to the influence of social media, young people across the globe are more engaged than previously in the politics of their country (Ta). An excellent real-life manifestation of the influence of policy entails the last US presidential elections where people across the world were fully engaged from the start to the end using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram among others. Every political figure should consider jumping on this social media bandwagon to attain popularity and pass across their agenda to the people.

Influence on Business

Communication also exists among the public that entails individuals and companies. The social media has provided an innovative way for contact between customers and businesses. As per now, clients can easily voice their exact needs to the companies or brands. Businesses in the process will then use information obtained to shape their products to be of more attractive to the customers. Earlier, a company used to invest heavily regarding cash to get this type of marketing statistics. The customers on the other hand also had to spend several hours on their phones trying to get help when they had a complaint or a problem. Nevertheless, all this has taken a turn as now internet savvy corporations are employing social media asset in building client loyalty, and marketing their goods among other purposes (Lenhart 42). Feedback, as well as interactions with consumers, assist companies to fine-tune their strategies, tailor products and understand the market. In comparison to advertisements on television alongside other costly practices of marketing, social media emerges as an efficient and cheap means applied in enhancing the brand popularity and image.

Impact on Socialization

We exist in a period where the entire world has become very open. We can reach anyone anywhere anytime across the world, by dialing just a small number of keystrokes. Components of our life can easily get shared, ranging from photos of ourselves that we enjoy to those in our lives. It feels like being there as a part of that individual's world despite the distance apart. The social networks provide the chance for people to make new friends, re-connect with old acquaintances and friends, trade concepts, share pictures as well as content alongside several other happenings. Professionals utilize the social media sites such as LinkedIn to improve their business as well as career prospects. Scholars also can team up with their peers to advance their skills in communication and academic proficiency. The platform also enables people to learn about diverse societies and cultures through interacting with individuals in other nations (Ta).

Adverse effects of Social Media

There are some disadvantages of social networking in the social sites. Numerous socially isolated users alongside introverts overemphasize on simulated communication, therefore ignoring the presence of the real outside world.

A Deceitful Sense of Connection

Steven Strogatz from Cornell University says that social networking creates a challenge for us to be able to differentiate between the important links in the real world we nurture, and the many natural interactions molded through social media (Jung 38). As we continue to focus so much psychic energy as well as our time on the less meaningful relationships, the most important relations will weaken with time.

Online Harassment and Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has been a common problem in the world of internet. Unscrupulous persons target users for online harassment and cyberbullying on social sites. School going children and teens, women and even young girls are victims of online attacks, and they end up in distress and tension. However, legal action can be taken against the attacker as their laws protecting victims of cyberbullying and online harassment.

The proximity delivered by social media is accessible to friends as well as online predators. Teenagers are very vulnerable to the cyber-bullying practice as the offenders; anonymously bully them in front of their colleagues and peers (Lenhart 28). The un-recognizability provided by the online platform often bring out the dark impulses suppressed inside such perpetrators.

Reduced Productivity

As numerous companies utilize social media platforms to discover and connect with consumers, the sites have proven to be an excellent source of distraction as empl...

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