How Social Media Affects Us: An Investigative Report

For the last month, members of the Falcon Courier staff have investigated various issues that impact the Salisbury community. The results of these endeavors will be posted over the next week. Today’s report, by staffers Gabi Lozada and Haroula Barbounis, focuses on the effect of social media use among SHS’s students, particularly with underclassmen. Their article and video feature are posted below. 

Social media has become a large part of our current society. Nowadays, everything is about getting the right shot and having a good feed on many different platforms. Social media is great for connecting with friends and family, but what are the serious effects that social media has on our community? Social media affects face-to-face communication, relationships, school life, and is a platform for cyberbullying to take place. While we enjoy going on our phones and seeing what’s going on in the world, we tune out the world around us.

Technology has opened the door to communication anytime, anywhere. Social media has opened the door to always being connected to the people and know many parts of their lives. However, this new ability has taken a toll on face-to-face communication. According to our survey, 65.2% people social face-to-face wise and 34.8% are not.  Why would I talk to someone right in front of me when I can be talking to my best friend and watching my cousin’s Instagram story? One of our interviewees, Gracie Hawkinson, said “confidence behind the keyboard”. Another effect of social media is that people have confidence in what they are writing because there is distance and they are hiding behind their phone or laptop. They can say what they do not have confidence to say in person. For example, behind a screen, it is easier to talk to your crush, confront a friend, send an email to teacher about concerns, or talk to family members about issues. Due to this, people are more comfortable texting and posting than actually talking to others. They use social media to express themselves. And the comfortable, casual conversations that used to occur back then do not occur as much as before, or they are no longer comfortable. People are always on their phones so there is no need to communicate with those around you. Gracie Hawkinson said, “People aren’t used to that anymore because we’re always texting.” We have lost the skill to communicate face-to-face. According to our survey, those who are on their phone 2-3 hours a day and are always on their phone is 34.8%; those who are on their phone for 5 hours a day are 26.1% of people.  We are constantly surrounded by people; however, now people are spending more time with their precious phones than those around us. Times have changed due to the advancements in technology and social media.

And because social media is a huge factor in communication, it therefore greatly impacts people’s relationships. People generally aren’t as genuine with what they text and with what they post. And with our freshman class and with our community, many people’s lives with social media vary exponentially. According to the student poll recently sent out to the freshman class, 30.4% of students have said that them using social media has probably affected their relationships with others. Also, coincidentally, 30.4% of students have responded to the option that they are not sure whether social media has had an influence on their relationships with people. While this can be positive, it also sends a message that our students are not exactly perceptive of the world around them, which is concerning. On that related note, one of our interviewees, Miss Chong, has plenty to say on the subject. She believes that social media has negatively affected face-to-face communication, which correlates to straining people’s relationships.  “It’s a tough time having a sit-down conversation without it being awkward. At the lunch table, it is most likely that all 8 people will be on their phones.” And while this is unsettling, it should encourage our student body to try harder and be more observant of their surroundings and what’s going on with the people in their lives instead of being engrossed in their electronic devices. Social media, overall, can destroy people’s relationships, from posting without permission to posts and texts sent because of underlying jealousy.

Technology has been found to help schools teach their students through new educational programs. It makes it easier for students to complete assignments and for teachers to constantly stay connected to their students. Social media is also used for students to stay connected with their fellow classmates and teachers. However, social media is a huge distraction for students. Now, most kids have electronic devices and when they hear the notification bell, it is very tempting for people to check their phone and scroll through social media. Yes, it can be used for recreational purposes and it is great at connecting people but while students should be doing their homework or studying, they are scrolling through Instagram or watching Youtube. Miss Chong talked about how teens no productive with their time because of social media. We spend more time on our phones than doing our school work; this can affect students’ grades and advancements in their education. With technology being integrated into school and education, students have the open door to be texting, scrolling through social media, watching TV shows and games instead of focusing on what they are currently learning in that class. Social media, while is can be used for many positive things, can negatively affect students and distract from the more important priorities.

And with school life, cyberbullying can easily ensue. Because of social media platforms, it is much more effortless nowadays to type a mean comment or post a degrading picture. People are much more comfortable saying mean comments or posting pictures behind a screen than face-to-face, and commonly, jealousy and bigotry are some of the main causes of cyberbullying. According to our survey, 34.8% of our freshmen have said that they have been cyberbullied, which is actually not that horrible compared to the 52.2% of freshmen who said that they haven’t been. Additionally, there was a 13% of people who have been minimally bullied. Along with that, one of our interviewees, Mrs. Moyer, has mentioned that she had witnessed social media being more of a negative influence on students’ lives than positive, which can tie to the assumption that they are being bullied on social media. So, what does this mean? Well, overall these results tell us that cyberbullying varies among our student body. And cyberbullying only affects a small amount of our freshman class. But cyberbullying, in general, is extremely degrading and bigoted, together with the knowledge that it disadvantageously affects students’ grades and relationships.

Overall, social media indeed has its up and downs. While it’s good to check on friends and communicate with people far away, it also distracts you from the now and what’s going on around you. And while in Salisbury, some people see social media as an outlet to express oneself, and some people see it as a distraction, it’s important to know that social media is not necessarily a foe nor a friend. Social media is only good and beneficial when it is used for the right purposes. And social media should not be what defines us altogether.