Whether it's for personal and public validation or simply to capture memories, America's youth has become obsessed with selfies and social media. Since the iPhone and other smartphones became a standard for most people to have, people have been taking pictures of themselves and their friends, causing a lot of distraction in the day-to-day life of many people. Combine this with the explosion of social media, and you have two of the main ingredients for today's society.
Social media connectivity has played a great part in shaping the society we live in today. Although social media and selfies have had positive effects, such as promoting body positivity and self-love, it's also had many adverse effects on today's youth in particular. Many people's constant need for validation is causing teens and young adults to become depressed by constantly comparing themselves to the perfectly portrayed lives of people on social media .
However, selfies are also extremely dangerous because people are now exhibiting risky behavior in the hopes of achieving the perfect photo for their social media pages. Hundreds of people have died while attempting to get a photo in a dangerous spot, which is causing people to wonder what there is to be done about this obsession with selfies and social media.Getting "Likes" on Social Media
One of the main consequences of being on social media is the often unavoidable social comparison. On Instagram in particular, where photos are the main form of content, people are able to see the lives of others as they are portrayed, which can lead today's youth to feel their lives are less cool than others. Although social media is supposed to help connect people, it can often make people feel even more lonely.
A considerable amount of research has been done to study the effects of social media on mental health. One study involving 140 undergraduates asked participants to either continue their use of social media or to reduce their use to 10 minutes each day. At the end of the three-week study, participants who limited their social media use reported feeling significantly better after the intervention, experiencing less depression and loneliness.
The need to get "likes" on social media has also caused a variety of life problems for people in regards to their careers. Today's youth may not be thinking about jobs right now, but what they post now could have an effect of their future careers. About 70% of employers now evaluate a candidate's social media presencebefore making a job offer. Almost 40% of the time, employers turned down potential candidates due to finding inappropriate or explicit photos on their social media, or photos of them drinking or using drugs.
These types of photos are often posted in an attempt to prove to friends, family, and even strangers that a person is living a happy and successful life. However, during a job search, it's best to make social media as private as possible. Even when you already have a job, employers sometimes have a problem with employees posting explicit photos on social media.
Although social media has very real life consequences, none are more real that the potential results of taking selfies in dangerous places. Since 2011, there have been over 250 deaths reported that were caused by people taking selfies on cliffs, bridges, near dangerous animals, with firearms, while driving and in the ocean, where they are swept away and drown.
Several of these deaths have occurred as a result of people trespassing into areas that were blocked off for safety reasons, and due to a misstep end up falling to their deaths or drowning. These deaths are tragic, but completely preventable if people don't engage in risky behaviors and ignore safety precautions in an attempt to get the coolest photo for social media.
In March 2019, a woman was attacked by a jaguar at an Arizona zooafter crossing a barrier to try to get a selfie near the animal. The woman attained non-life threatening injuries, but was injured and in need of medical attention. Although this was a dangerous and frightening situation, it could have resulted in much worse consequences. The woman returned to the zoo the next day and apologized for her carelessness.
The youngest generation today have never known a life without cell phones, selfies, the internet and social media. This is causing youth to lead sedentary lifestyles and to experience more mental health problems than previous generations. In the U.S., 52% of today's youth spend between one and four hours using computers, cell phones or other handheld devices; a factor contributing to the 6.3 million kids under 17 years old suffering from depression or anxiety.
Social media can provide people around the world with a great way to stay connected with friends and family in different countries. However, it's important to take all things in moderation, and to raise the new generation to recognize the dangers of social media. Although it's great to create memories through selfies, dangerous behaviors should always be avoided. Only when we do this will today's youth be able to find a positive balance with social media.