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|Since the development of smart-phones, social networking sites became more reachable for everyone. For teenagers, social networking sites are extremely important as it allows them to have access to everything they are interested anytime they want. According to a 2015 survey from the Pew Research Center, more than three-fourths (81.5%) of the respondent reported daily use of social networking sites and an additional 10.7% of those responding reported using the sites on an irregular basis. As teens are using more and more social networking sites, we must not neglect the influence of them on their lives.
Besides looking into the pattern of teens using social networking sites, I also want to dig into how it really affect teens’ physical health. According to a research done by Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga and his colleagues from Ottawa Public Health in Ontario, teenagers using social networking sites for less than 1 hour, 2 hours, and 5 or more hours a day had a 67%, 90% and close to 3.3-fold increased odds of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages. When teens use more social networking sites, it is likely that they will sink into it and even skip meals to stay “online”. The problem with skipping meals is that teens will get hungry later and they will use snacks and junk foods as a substitute for meals. As a result, bad habits are developed and their physical health are endangered.
Other than teens’ physical health, mental health is as equally important. When facing criticism, teenagers might feel a sense of disapprovement by others and therefore feel negatively toward themselves. According to a study done by Dr. Heather Cleland Woods and Holly Scott from the University of Glasgow, students feel the pressure and anxiety of being constantly available on social media and of being unable to respond to messages or posts. It also shows that nighttime social media use and emotional investment are related to higher anxiety and depression levels as well as lower self-esteem.
In the 21st century, people have become busier and have less time to see friends or even family members. However, social networking sites may give us the solution for that issue. Technology such as Instant Messaging provided us the platform to communicate in an easy and convenient way. Friends can now use social networking sites to keep close to one another and enhance peer relationship. For teachers and students, they can “follow” each other on social networking sites and get to learn more about each other on a personal level. They can also use social networking sites as a channel to communicate outside school. According to a study done by professors Sarah Coyne and Laura Padilla-Walker from Brigham Young University, teenagers who are connected to their parents on social media feel closer to their parents in real life. Family members can use social networking sites to talk to each other for example parents can use this a way into what teenagers are reading and experiencing on a daily basis. They can find common interest online and share among them which will help bond them together.
For teenagers, academic study is very important. However, social networking sites may have a negative impact on their academic study. According to a research done by the Common Sense’s program, social networking sites may weaken teenagers writing skills as teenagers got use to “text message language”. Nevertheless, it also said that students spend so much time with social networking sites that they neglect their homework and are not well prepared in class. Beside all these, using too much social networking sites can also keep teenagers “online” and awake at night. They will have less sleep and they may fail to concentrate during lessons. It will cause a drop in their academic study.
As a teenager myself, I definitely feel the urge to look into one of those things that are deeply influencing my generation on a day to day basis. From this study, I hope I will get to know more about how social networking sites are changing our lives.