In the past two decades, communication technologies have evolved rapidly. Social media has become an integral component of our lives, especially among teenagers. The pervasive developments of social media channels such as Twitter, WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram have influenced the way we access, utilize, and exchange information, how we obtain news, and associate with each other. Most users of social media channels spend considerable time everyday surfing, chatting, networking, and interacting with peers from school, home, communities, friends, and other acquaintances. Youngsters engage in constant conversation and communication with peer groups using social networking sites. This paper will try to answer the following question: Does the use of social media bring a positive or negative impact on interpersonal interactions among teenagers? I have chosen the topic because of its relevance and significance to youngsters in the digital age.
Description of what I know about the issue
The issue of social media is not new in our society today. Social networking sites help us to share information fast, efficiently, inexpensively and more comfortable than ever before (Yorio 18). We engage with friends, family, and groups through the exchange of photos, moments, motivational thoughts, and videos from the comfort of our homes, couches, and beds in real-time. The constant evolution of tech-savvy devices such as tablets, smartphones, and personal computers has elevated our usage of social media (Kowal et al. 235). Teenagers use such sites for chatting and uploading various media to share with other users. According to Pradhan et al., social media has become a way of life (95). However, its increased usage compromises the quality of face-to-face interactions, family communication, and personal relationships. Over the years, the number of teenagers joining social media sites has increased strikingly around the world. Teenagers’ access to the Internet continues to rise in both developed and developing countries (Yorio 18). Moreover, the Internet has become more accessible in homes, schools, and workplaces. Such tremendous changes have coincided with the increased availability of affordable smartphones among the youth.
The above changes have a significant impact on the level of personal interactions among teenagers. Existing recent literature on this issue suggests that social media networking channels have replaced face-to-face communication among teenagers (Pradhan et al. 98). The quality of interpersonal relationships has deteriorated immensely as young people rely on social media regularly. In a survey conducted on college students, Kowal et al. found out that Facebook and FaceTime act as substitutes to interpersonal interactions among adolescents (236). The author adds that most teenagers use Facebook and WeChat as the primary media for communication more than face-to-face communication (Yorio 20). Such overdependence on social media jeopardizes the quality of interpersonal interactions among the youth. Furthermore, most teenagers find themselves isolated as the size of their social circle reduces. Such users experience adverse effects, such as depression and loneliness (Kowal et al. 238). Experts associate the frequent use of Internet-based technologies such as social media and the Web with distant social relationships (Pradhan et al. 99). Moreover, overuse of social media exposes teenagers to inappropriate behaviors such as bullying, humiliation, sexting, sexual predation, and relationship abuse.
Audiences, stakeholders, allies, and opponents
Social media and the youth represent a significant area of concern in the modern society. In this respect, possible audiences would include teenagers in high school and college students. Additional audiences would include parents, guardians, teachers, and youth counselors, who have a close relationship with young people. Further, young adults and single parents are impacted directly by the issue. Mainly, most people leading isolated lifestyles spend considerable time on social media. The research project will endeavor to explore whether social media is helpful or harmful to such groups of users. Additionally, social media technologies attract the interests of policymakers, governments, and politicians. These stakeholders are responsible for regulating the consumption of emerging communication technologies to prevent adverse outcomes. For instance, youths who spend too much time watching videos on YouTube, chatting on Facebook, and texting may develop an addiction. My allies will benefit from the research by understanding the prevalence of social media and its impacts on teenage behaviors. The findings will inform the stakeholders’ decision-making during the formulation and implementation of policies governing social media. My opponents are likely to be fellow students and persistent users of social media.
Why the issue is compelling and what I need to learn
Social media impacts us directly. I will investigate how the issue affects other teenagers from diverse backgrounds. For example, I will compare how teenagers communicated with friends and peers in the past years before social media became ubiquitous. Gathering information from secondary sources will shed light on the quality of interpersonal relationships and interactions among the youth when social media was not omnipresent. Such information will form a strong base for the current research on how communication technologies have impacted our lives. The proposed issue is significant in determining the percentage of teenagers using social media, the web, mobile phones, and online games. Moreover, it is essential to collect information about how social media affects interpersonal interactions. I will attempt to find out the kind of information youths exchange via social media and how such a mode of communication affects their relationships.
Social media influences the way teenagers relate to one another and the quality of relationships. I will use personal experience and those of my colleagues to investigate whether social media communication tools bring a positive or negative impact on interpersonal relations. To achieve this objective, I plan to research on the Internet using journals, publications, e-books, and other articles about the issue. Additionally, I may carry out statistical surveys on my fellow students using open-ended questionnaires to collect primary data. The polls will provide a platform for respondents to express their personal experiences of using social media. Alternative sources of information include online databases, interviews on social media experts, and parents, who may express any concerns they have about the issue.
The use of communication technologies, especially social media, requires investigation on whether it is good or bad for teenagers. It is a relevant issue to students, our teachers, and our parents. I will conduct research using secondary sources or primary data to determine how using social media impacts our interpersonal interactions. Further, I will share my personal views on how Facebook, WeChat, and Instagram have helped me to connect with distant friends while isolating me from my immediate friends and family. Existing literature suggests that social media hurts social interactions, face-to-face communication, and relationships of teenagers. The study will enlighten us about the impacts of using communication technologies.
Kowal, Jolanta, et al. Communication and Information Technology in Society. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.
Pradhan, Rudra P., et al. “Information Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure and Economic Growth: A Causality Evinced by Cross-Country Panel Data.” IIMB Management Review, vol. 30, no. 1, 2018, pp. 91–103.
Yorio, Kara. “Social Media and Teens: Survey Says: The Relationship is Complicated.” School Library Journal, no. 10, 2018, p. 18-24.