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Social Media, the Double Edged Sword

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Donnelly 1

Megan Donnelly

Mrs. Mulvaney

English IV Honors

26 November 2018

Social Media, the Double Edged Sword

        Over thousands of years, human communication methods have transformed, improved, and expanded worldwide. Attaching notes to the talons or feet of wild animals has modernized to sending text messages through a cell phone to any person in the world. Today’s methods of communication provide exceptional convenience to an entire population, and has exponentially increased in accessibility. Medical assistance is now available in a matter of minutes through a phone call, world leaders can negotiate peace talks through video chats, and imperative news announcements can reach an entire population through social media platforms in seconds. Media and technology provide an abundance of benefits; but that which glitters is not always gold. With screen time rapidly superseding social interaction time, an entire generation’s social skills have weakened, leaving speculation as to what other consequences may arise from increasing technological dependence; but the ability to reach people across the globe with one click has unified people of all ages, races, and religions.

        The youth of America dedicates approximately 66% of it’s time to social media and other screen related functions. With screen time rapidly increasing, communication has been hindered, and the amount of social interactions has reduced. Growing up as a young child, continuous face to face interactions are imperative to obtain the social skills required for a successful future. Inadequate adolescent personal interactions result in the inability to read social cues, carry

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conversations, and even build foundations for mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, which could potentially result in continuous issues throughout life. Long lasting friendships, typically formed at youth in school or clubs, tend to alleviate significant amounts of stress and loneliness. “High-quality friendships can form a powerful buffer against stressors in adolescence, and adolescents with high-quality friendships are often happier than adolescents without such friendships” (Valkenburg). Friendships formed over social media possess a tendency to lack the sustainability, substance, and legitimacy habitually found in personal relationships, and usually end abruptly.

        “Social networking services bring us together, but do not necessarily ensure close friendships” (Dunbar). Although social media is incapable of guaranteeing warm and devoted friendships, it possesses potential to benefit the lives of those unable to pursue face to face interactions. A young boy, Joe Manghan, who faced a battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma had been placed on hospice care following his illness’ progression to a terminal state. Ewing’s Sarcoma constrained Joe to his hospital room, where his interactions were confined to his family and hospital staff. While playing video games, Joe befriended several boys from elsewhere in the country, who would later become his best friends. Immediately following the announcement that Joe’s illness had progressed to a terminal state, his friends came together from across the country to meet Joe for the first time at the hospital. Joe’s friends were an invaluable source of comfort and support in his time of need, and without video games, Joe would have never known the feeling of companionship and love from friends.

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