Facebook and the its Psychological Effects

Social media plays a large part in our daily lives. With technology always with you, it is very hard not to stay connected. In the book, Taking Sides by Brent Slife, he uses two argumentative articles from sources about how Facebook has positive or negative psychological effects on humans.

To begin the argument, Amy Gonzales and Jeffery Hancock describe the positive outlook that Facebook and other social media sites have on people. They were convincing the reader that Facebook brings an effect to a person’s self esteem, typically making it greater. “…the role of Facebook and the ability to socialize, and the role of socializing online plays in supporting self-esteem and various forms of social capital.” Being online and getting “likes” on a status is one thing, but the other personal items like a relationship status is how the “friends” view an individual. This is called social self esteem. Social self esteem is “measured as perceptions of one’s physical appearance, close relationships, and romantic appeal…” The authors measured a person’s self esteem in a test where 63 students (16 males and 47 females) participated. Each participant involved was measured on their attitude towards themselves while being on their “Profile.” They were asked to examine their own posts, photos, information and biography of themselves for three minutes. The other test was the exact same, except there was a mirror on the computer monitor so they could see their facial expressions and reactions against what they were seeing. The results of the test were predicted exactly like the hypothesis; Facebook does have an effect on a person’s self esteem, but gender did not play an important factor in this study.

The opposing viewpoint, where social media has a negative effect on Facebook users, Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe and Kathleen Clarke-Pearson describe that the inappropriate use of Facebook has many risks for users, especially tweens and teens. “22% of teenagers log onto their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day…seventy five percent of teenagers now own cell phones…” (O’Keeffe and Pearson 256) With so many kids having cell phones and access to the internet, cyber bullying and online harassment is present more often because they do not realize the risks that being online incorporate: “peer-to-peer; inappropriate content; lack of understanding of online privacy issues; and outside influences of third-party advertising groups.” (258) The authors emphasize how important it is to educate their children about being safe online because they never know who is on the other side of the screen. According to the Congress in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), it prohibits children under 13 to sign up for social media sites. The age of 13 was set because there can be a lot of inappropriate language, pictures, etc. on social media. The article suggests that parents should know what their kids are doing online at all times, educate their kids about the risks for being on social media, and do not click on any third party advertisements or inappropriate websites.

After reading and analyzing both the positive and negative sides of Facebook and social media sites, I believe that social media does not generate positive psychological effects on a person. Facebook is a great tool for communicating and connecting with people, but what one does not realize is that anyone behind the screen. With the amount and easy accessiblility one has to technology today, it is hard to keep oneself fully private. When one types a name into Facebook, a picture automatically comes up of the person, even if they cannot see anything else. If everything of one is essentially private, then why when they type their name into Google, a list of millions of hits comes up? Anyone can look up information about anyone nowadays. It is especially important to be educated about the importance of privatization of your social media site(s). I do a “privacy checkup” on my Facebook account every few months, just to be sure that my “friends” are the only people who can see what I post and comment on. I do this for my safety and protection against people who want to look me up or try to add me as a friend. It is very important to do this because there are a lot of creepy people in the world who could copy pictures and somehow re-share them to others.

Today’s generation of children will not know how easy and enjoyable life was with out the advanced technology we have. They are essentially the “social media generation.” The technology is a great tool to have for looking facts up, sharing pictures, and reconnecting with friends and family members who live far away. However, technology is used in a lot of corrupt ways like sexual harassment, cyber bullying, and false facts and information. These things can lead to: “depression, anxiety, severe isolation, and tragically suicide.” (Schurhgin O’Keeffe et. all 258) It is very important to privatize and know what you are posting, along with children because it could lead to so major consequences and other issues.



References

Gonzalez, Amy L., and Jeffery T. Hancock. "Mirror, Mirror on My Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem." Taking Sides. 17th ed. N.p.: McGraw Hill, 2012. 248-55. Print.

Schurgin O'Keeffe, Gwenn, and Kathleen Clarke-Pherson. "Clinical Report-The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families." Taking Sides. 17th ed. N.p.: McGraw Hill, 2012. 248-55. Print.

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