Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Rise of Social Media

by Jason Boryszewski

Social media and technology are all around us.  Nearly every student at ORHS carries around a smartphone that connects them to social media at every waking moment.  According to a 2010 study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average 8-18 year old spends more than seven and a half hours a day consuming media, whether that be on a computer, television, or cell phone.  This is a lot of time when you consider that an average student sleeps a similar amount of time.  If two thirds of a person's day is already consumed by media and sleep, it is difficult to fit the remaining parts of their life in that last eight hours. 

Social media itself is still becoming more and more common.  Between 2010 and 2013 the percentage of internet users who had at least one social media profile grew from 62% to 73%.  The percentage of people aged 18-29 who have a social media profile was 90% in 2013(  Social media has become a big part of our society.  Individuals not only have their own social media profiles, but businesses and organizations are spending an increasing amount of time on social media networking and advertising.  With social media being so new and fast growing, it is difficult to tell exactly what the benefits and harms of social media are.  

Personally, I am one of the few who shy away from social media.  I text and Snapchat my friends and others who I am close with, but my facebook has been deactivated for a couple years and I have no instagram, twitter, tumblr or really any other social media profile.  It works for me, but people are free to do what they want with their own time.  I don't feel the need to share my life with everyone around me.  I like to have the ability to choose with who and what I share about myself.  The vast majority of interactions through social media aren't very meaningful and I don't really need that.  The time that I would otherwise spend on my phone I try to spend reading.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes I love to just sit on the couch with my phone but I try to moderate the amount of time I spend doing that.  If I'm spending time with someone or am out doing something my phone stays in my pocket the majority of the time.

Since social media and smartphones are so new, we need to be aware how these technologies are affecting people, especially the younger generations who have spent their whole lives with technology.  Some people have problems limiting the time they spend with technology.  Older generations worry that young people are forgetting how to interact with one another because they are spend so much time interacting through social media.  For the average teenager this isn't true, but for the few who take their obsession to an extreme level it is.  No interaction through social media will be the same as having a conversation with the person face to face.  Many people, not just teenagers, feel anxiety when they are separated from their cell phone.  Being attached to any object this much is bad.  The screen itself also has an effect on your sleep pattern.  The blue light from your cell phone screen signals to your brain that it is daytime, so using your phone before bed can increase the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.  I have an app on my phone that changes the brightness and warmth of the screen based on the time of the day to help solve this problem.

Despite its drawbacks, social media certainly has it's benefits.  Organizations can use social to great benefit.  Everyone knew about Kony 2012.  Despite the fact that the organization behind the Kony movement proved to be less than credible, it showed that social media has a huge potential to raise awareness about issues.  Social media allows you to have connections with people you otherwise would not be able to.  You can instantly connect to a person who is three thousand miles away from you.  It's a powerful thing.  Social media and technology, just like anything, are best in moderation.  We as a society need to pay attention to the effect social media has on us.  


Pew Research Center. "Social Networking Fact Sheet." Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, 2013. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.

Ahuja, Masuma. "Teens Are Spending More Time Consuming Media, on Mobile Devices." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.

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