Every since social media was originally introduced, there has been controversy surrounding its benefits to users. In the early stages, platforms like Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter were made to keep up with and maintain friendships with tools such as message boards or instant messaging.
Since they were in early development, the overall opinion on them was not inherently harmful, but as social media is growing rapidly along with technology, that opinion has quickly changed. Now that there are generations growing up with social media at such early ages, the importance of regulation is being stressed by many professionals after numerous studies have shown the connection between early use and mental illness.
Recently, the American Psychological Association put out a list of 10 recommendations for youth and adolescents’ use of social media with the hope of having them trained before delving into the virtual world. Some of these recommendations include lowering screen time, routine screening for harmful content, curating content for brain development, and putting a limit on how much one can compare themselves to others. “Just as we require young people to be trained in order to get a driver’s license, our youth need instruction in the safe and healthy use of social media,” said APA Chief Science Officer Mitch Prinstein while discussing the list.
In recent years, as the capability of social media and its content has grown, cases of depression and anxiety have risen because of the effects it has on body image and dopamine receptors from the feeling of instant gratification that comes with endless scrolling. The consensus amongst scientists studying the topic is that “social media is here to stay.
So, we need to teach kids how to get the best they can from it and avoid the worst.” Because of the impact of social media and the everlasting effect it has already had on current adolescents, there is hope that it can be changed for the better in the lives of generations to come.