Today, social media has created new styles of communication for us, which made huge impact on everyday lives of the people. Social media has brought people with common interests together and expanded the horizon of ideas worldwide. However, there has also been a profound impact of social media on human behavior and society.

Human behavior changes more when we dabble with technology especially with social media. The daily use of social media by people has increased so much that it is slowly injecting an inflection into our behavior.

The Bad Impact Of Social Media:

  • Face-to-face interactions which are necessary for development of personalities, learning social skills and communication skills, have been removed from the lives of people, especially younger generations. Children are having a difficult time interacting with others, which might lead to unsociable behavior
  • Comparison with other lives has been made easy by social media. People become unhappy with their current circumstances, leading to problems with self-esteem and depression
  • Social media use has also been associated with cyberbullying and cyber abuse by anonymous users online, which leads to problems of self-esteem, privacy, etc
  • Most studies have shown that, social media’s violent games result in increase in violent tendencies and behaviors in children
  • Social media has also been used as tool to spread negativity and rumors online which has led to increase in the instances of violence in the society. For instance – Recently, the rumors of kidnappers over WhatsApp have led to deaths of innocent people in various parts of India
  • With social media it has become nearly impossible to avoid bad news and the negative influences on our lives. This can lead to long-lasting psychological repercussions and ultimately lead to thoughts of our world falling apart, stress and anxiety
  • Social media and narcissism – Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egoistic admiration of one’s idealized self-image and attributes .The term originated from Greek mythology, where Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. People are valuing money, fame and image over community, affiliation and self-acceptance. From deceptive selfie angles that are designed to make people look and seem attractive, to curating the Facebook feed just to make it seem like we are having more fun than we actually are, social media has turned an entire generation into vapid narcissists
  • Tinder and sexting: Tinder is a popular online dating app. Teens are able to disguise themselves as adults in order to install this app to their smartphone and browse for suitors in a geographical area. The app displays pictures to users of a particular area, and they can rate the images as good or bad, based on the attractiveness of the photo. This is not a good app for teens, as it can lead to risky behavior such as posting provocative images online or meeting with a stranger who is lying about their profile. When it comes down to it, Tinder is a sexting/messaging app more than it even is a dating app anyway. Tinder, the widely-used hookup dating app originated the “swipe right for yes, left for no” concept. The way Tinder works is pretty much just that.
  • Trolling: Those who aren’t quite as familiar with the internet slang definition of “troll” or “trolling” might automatically think of the mythical creature from Scandinavian folklore. The mythological troll is known to be an ugly, dirty, angry creature that lives in dark places, like caves or underneath bridges, waiting to snatch up anything that passed by for a quick meal. The internet troll is a modern version of the mythological version. They hide behind their computer screens, and actively go out of their way to cause trouble on the internet. Like the mythological troll, the internet troll is angry and disruptive in every possible way—often for no real reason at all.

The Good Impact Of Social Media:

  • Social media can add creativity to our thinking as people can share their views and work with others
  • It allows people to explore and become actively involved without the fear of rejection
  • Social media connectivity with families, friends and some government safety organizations, has resulted in people feeling safe while moving out
  • LinkedIn is one of the greatest example of how networking over social media has helped people in finding the jobs in domain of their interests
  • It facilitates airing our opinion on any topic that we want to be shared by the public by removing the barriers that one can face in the main stream media
  • Social media has become one of the fastest growing platform for spreading news, information and awareness to a larger audience in a shorter span of time

Remedies To Curb The Urge To Use Technology

What can you, as an individual, do to curb the over usage of social media?

1. End idle moments
It’s usually in your idle moments that you reach for your phone. “If your first impulse when you get a quiet moment is to reach for your device, remind yourself of half a dozen other things you could be doing instead that would be more meaningful and relaxing: taking a walk, doing a few stretches, meditating for 10 minutes.” The key is to come up with options that appeal to you.

2. Use tech to help you stay off tech
There are apps that tell you how many times you’ve checked your phone that day, that warn you if you’re going over your self-imposed Internet limit, that lock your phone for a specified period of time and block distractions

3. Don’t rely on willpower
While putting away your phone or turning off the computer is the simplest way to unplug, doing so is usually easier said than done. Your willpower is no match for the savvy startups and multi-billion dollar companies fighting for your attention. We should own up to being over-matched, and find better ways to remove the temptation.

4. Unplug before bed.
An hour before you go to sleep, power down all tech devices. “The blue wavelength light from our screens interrupts production of melatonin—known as the darkness hormone—which gives our brain the signal that it’s time to sleep

5. Turn off notifications
Simply turning off the notifications will make you less likely to look at your phone every few seconds.

6. Put your obligations first
If you are a student then do your homework and study. If you’re in the working world, prioritize what you actually need to get done, rather than procrastinating with internet activities.

7. No distractions while driving.
Use headphones while attending calls and let other passengers (if any) operate the entertainment, navigation and climate control system

What can the school do to curb the over usage of social media?

  1. Develop a culture of awareness and support: First and foremost, it is vital that schools discuss these challenges openly. Dialogues about proper use, cyberbullying, sexting, and the many other realities of social media use are vital. Encourage students to talk about their concerns, as well as the fun uses of these technology tools.
  2. Make sure to include social media in your Code of Conduct Policy: This is pretty straightforward. Don’t leave social media out of your Code of Conduct Policy. Breach of policies can lead to strict action being taken.
  3. Remember – Instagram and many other social media apps require users to be 13 or older! While this can certainly be a bit challenging to adhere to in reality, at the very least it is a powerful lever in managing your children’s access to these websites in the school premises.
  4. Keep a keen lookout for children using social media in the name of doing computer lab work. Many of them are amongst those who do not have access to social media websites at home owning to vigilant parents.
  5. Parental education: Educating parents is a key component of a proactive effort to control social media driven problems with preteens and young adolescents. Educators need to make a point of getting parents involved in the conversation, and the sooner the better. And don’t just do this once a school year and consider it done, look for other opportunities to bring it up and raise awareness (just don’t go overboard).
  6. Provide a way for students to report issues: Students need to know who they can turn to when they become aware of, or are victims of, an issue that arises for them on social media. There should be a clear direct way for them to do this (“inform your teacher, and they will inform the Principal”). It may also be worth considering an anonymous route, for those who may be scared to share their concern or problem.
  7. Develop a peer mediation program: These are increasingly common. This can be a great way for students to help each other work through issues, including social media based challenges. Peer mediation is problem solving by youth with youth. It is a process by which two or more students involved in a dispute meet in a private, safe and confidential setting to work out problems with the assistance of a trained student mediator.
  8. Encourage parents to talk about social media use with their kids: Part of each school’s approach should be reminding parents about the importance of talking with their children about how they use social media. This doesn’t have to be a purely ‘negative’ conversation – it is an opportunity to discuss the fun and creative ways that students use these tools.
  9. Consider educating children on the dos and don’ts of posting on social media .Don’t undermine the importance of this education. Many children post without evaluating the consequences of the trouble they are signing up for.

Hopefully these ideas will help to protect students while allowing them to enjoy the fun side of social media use. This is really a growing problem and it is likely to continue to get worse as social media continue to weave their way into our lives, and technology devices continue to proliferate.

What can parents do to curb the over usage of social media?

Parents and caregivers need to be prepared to be unpopular and provide clear boundaries for their children. Some measures that can be taken include the following:

  1. Limit the use of TV, computers and mobile devices to a maximum of 30 minutes at a time. Ensure the total amount of screen time per day doesn’t exceed the age-group recommendations.
  2. Schedule an appropriate time for using the device, and plan fun physical activities for your child to engage in at other times.
  3. TV’s, computers, laptops etc. must be fixed/used in the living room where there is open visibility .Refrain from putting TV and electronic gadgets in your child’s bedroom, and put away such devices after use.
  4. Observe ‘tech-free’ times such as during meals, homework and bedtime. In addition, you can designate ‘tech-free’ zones for your child such as in the bedroom, dining area and in the car. Bring back the concept of dining together or eating on a Dastarkhwan
  5. Teach your child early about the importance of moderation. Be sure to offer praise when your child demonstrates restraint in the use of tech devices and follows the rules you’ve set.
  6. Monitor access by using the device together with your child. Take this opportunity to communicate, interact and share family values.
  7. Spend meaningful time with your child .The more time you spend with your child ,the less he/she will choose gadgets over you .Read books together, do pretend play with your child, make collective plans for the weekend etc.
  8. Make it a point to talk to your child about how he/she has spent the day .This will make them open up the you more and turn less to virtual friends .
  9. Monitor and Limit social media accounts, reduce the number of accounts your child has on various social-media platforms, and also cut the time you spend logging in daily. 
  10. Get to know the passion, hobbies and interests of your child. You can send him/ her for sports coaching or any hobby classes to ensure that they have constructive usage of their free time.
  11. Set up parental controls on the gadgets and websites to control the access to unwanted web content.
  12. You need to have the passwords to all the social accounts of your child. Whether you check their accounts or not is another matter altogether. Parents should know their kids’ user names and passwords (and monitor accounts): This is pretty straightforward. It needs to be a condition of use. “If you want access, we need to know your user name and password”.

Sadia Bushra Akhtar
Corporate Trainer
LEARN Maximum/Wisdom Collabrative.