John Lee / Phillips Exeter Academy 10th
Teenagers in the 21st century are constantly fixated on devices; the use of technology has become a necessity in millions of teen lives. As schools progress into a more technology-oriented curriculum, teens spend a majority of their childhoods staring into screens. They complete work on their computers during school and spend hours at home scrolling through their phone, texting, and Snapchatting. And as a result, the impact and influence that social media has on the youth are greater than ever before.
Despite the plethora of arguments condemning the use of social media as a whole, there are undeniable benefits that come with the rising popularity of social media. For example, it has proven to be a popular means through which people spread cultural competence and awareness, and in a nation as culturally rich and diverse as America, cultural awareness has proven to be a necessary skill for teenagers to learn. Through social media platforms and their wide demographic of users, teenagers are exposed to different cultures when they observe Instagram posts or Twitter comments. With this enhanced understanding of cultural diversity, teens become more equipped to play active and cognizant roles in society.
Despite its benefits, social media can be exploited in negative ways. One particular danger is the use of social media as an easily accessible platform for cyberbullying and degrading behavior. Bullying in teenage years has evolved to go beyond school campuses. According to the i-SAFE foundation, a nonprofit organization focusing on educating teenagers on healthy online behavior, over half of all teenagers have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying. Organizations like the i-SAFE foundation play an important role in teaching proper relationships between teenagers and the potentially hurtful material on social media. Further, these organizations emphasize the fact that at its core, social media is not a negative space that encourages cyber-bullying, but rather a platform that bullies exploit to spread hate.
Despite the persisting debates regarding the benefits and harms of social media, the impact that it has on society remains as an uncontested fact. The healthiest way for teenagers to navigate social media in a healthy manner is through proper education and healthy online habits.
<John Lee / Phillips Exeter Academy 10th