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Effects of Social Media on Young Adults

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 2954 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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 Social media has become such an integral part of our culture today. People constantly check their devices for the newest updates in each other’s lives and seek validation by the amount of “likes” a social media post receives. However, social media does have benefits, such as keeping in touch with family and friends who may have moved away, and the capability to look up bits of information at the tip of your fingers. Since social media has such a great impact in people’s lives, it only seems necessary to see the effects it may cause them in the long run as well as short term effects.

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 From a comparative perspective, the use of social media is far more substantial today than it has ever been before. According to Tutelman (2018), “with a 10-fold increase in use over the last decade, it is estimated that over 69% of adults now use social media on a regular basis” (p. 1). As history has shown society time and time again, bullying is something that has and will be apart of our world for as long as we live. With the great increase in people communicating through social media more than ever, it has brought on a whole new level of bullying, cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has become so much more accessible to younger people. Instead of having to face their victims in person, the bullies can say horrendous things about them and reach far more people than possibly imagined with a push of a button. This, in itself, is an epidemic of our youth. Cyberbullying has shown negative effects on teenager’s self esteem and academic functioning (Yousef 2015).

 The effects of social media have been widely studied in the recents years since it has taken off so dramatically. When searched for, an abundance of data came up representing all the research done to show the effects social media has created on today’s youth. Some specific issues that affect the youth due to social media include issues such as; cyber bullying, lowered self esteem due to the use of social networks, the skill to create meaningful relationships in person, and addiction to social media. According to all the studies reviewed, the research states highly similar results such as, social media has an overall negative effect on today’s youth (Sriwali 2016).

Literature Review

 The purpose of this study is to see the effects social media has on a person’s empathy, narcissism, and self-esteem (Errasti 2017). The study was carried out in Spain. The sample was taken at random from the network of schools in the Principality of Asturias. Of these, 272 (54.1%) were boys and 231 (45.9%) were girls. The distribution according to age: 258 participants were 14 years of age (51.30%), 189 participants were 15 years of age (37.60%), 44 were 16 years of age (8.7%), and 12 were 17 years of age (2.4%). For this study, there were three types of tests and two questionnaires done to collect the data. The three tests included; Basic Empathy Scale, Narcissistic Personality Inventory, and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. The two questionnaires included the Use of Facebook Questionnaire and Use of Twitter Questionnaire. According to Errasti (2017), these tests and questionnaires resulted in a positive correlation between the use of social networks and the empathy scales and narcissism scales. However, a negative correlation is shown between social networks and self-esteem. According to a study done by Yuen (2018) this study matches up strongly with the findings of other studies done to show levels of self esteem due to social media. Strong data has been recorded in favor of self esteem being lowered due to social media. Some possible weakness of this study could be the fact that some research was done through questionnaires and people may not always be 100% honest. On the other hand, the fact that essentially five tests were ran to gather information for this research strengthens this study. I believe the most important contribution this study made to our knowledge is that we see that social media is not all bad. It does increase empathy for others through social networks.

 The purpose of this study is to see the effects of mood in emerging adults due to Facebook (Yuen 2018). 312 college students were randomly assigned to one of the following 20-min activities: browse the Internet, passively browse others’ Facebook profiles, actively communicate with others on Facebook via messages/posts or update their own personal profile on Facebook. Participants also completed questionnaires assessing mood, feelings of envy, and perceived meaningfulness of their time online. The results showed that using Facebook led to significantly worsened mood compared with browsing the Internet, especially when participants passively browsed Facebook (Yuen 2018). These findings strengthen to the findings of studies such as Errasti (2017) in the sense that we see a strong correlation of lowered self-esteem after the use of a social network such as Facebook. The strength of this study is that this research was gathered through observation of the participants. A possible weakness might be when they were asked to do the questionnaires, they might not have been as honest as preferred. The strongest contribution made by this study is the fact that it strengthens previously correlating data by showing that mood is affected negatively after viewing Facebook.

 The purpose of this study is to show the impact of cyberbullying on self-esteem and academic functioning of Arab American middle and high school students (Yousef 2015). The population of this study consisted of 1,152 middle and high school students, grades 6 through 12 from four different charter schools in Wayne County in Michigan. These schools represented different ethnic groups, such as Arab Americans, African Americans, Hispanic and White. This study was done through a survey given out to all the students. The results of the study indicate that Arab Americans experience more cyberbullying than the other ethnic groups within the study. The data illustrates that cyberbullying has an expected negative effect on student self-esteem and academic functioning among the Arab American group. According to Yousef (2015), there were mixed findings among the other ethnic student groups (p. 464). The research done by this study correlates with lowered self-esteem due to social media just like the studies conducted by Erassti (2017) and Yuen (2018). A definite weakness of this study is that it was done through self-report. Self-report is not the most reliable source of data. The most important contribution made by this study is that it shows which group is affected most by cyberbullying. The more information we can gather the more we can work together to help resolves issues such as cyberbullying against different ethnic groups.

The purpose of this study is the relation between smartphone use and inattention (Marty-Dugas 2018). The participants in this study were undergraduate college students from the University of Waterloo who partook in this study in exchange for partial credit for their course. There were 159 participants, 85 females and 74 male. The age ranged anywhere from 18-33 years of age. They were instructed to complete a questionnaire about their daily smartphone use. According to Marty- Dugas (2018), the study shows that the more engaged a person is with their smartphone the less aware they are of their surroundings are lack more meaningful relationships with the people around them (p. 55). This study does not show direct correlation with specific studies looked up thus far but does show a pattern of negative correlation with social network or smartphone use. That correlates with the studies conducted by Yuen (2018), Erassti (2017), Yousef (2015), and Marty-Dugas (2018). The biggest contribution made by this study has to be the validation it shows about how much more we are connected through the cyber world opposed to the real world.

The purpose of this study is to see how people with serious mental illnesses use smartphones, mobile apps, and social media (Nusland 2016). Participants were age 21 or older and had a serious mental illness defined by an axis I diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, major depressive disorder, or bipolar disorder. The study was conducted with 70 participants, 42 of which were females and 28 males. The data was collected through survey responses. According to Nusland (2016), most participants reported daily use of text messaging, mobile apps or social media. About 30% of participants with a smartphone or tablet indicated that they had used mobile apps for health or wellness purposes, and about one quarter of participants who use social media reported posting (24%) or searching for health-related information (26%) on these popular platforms. Participants reported mainly using text messaging and social media to connect with family or friends (p. 365). Nusland (2016) states that a recent study of a community sample of people living with serious mental illness found similarly high rates of text messaging (78%), but lower rates of smartphone ownership (37%) (p. 365). A definite weakness of this study is that the data is collected through survey. We cannot guarantee participants being honest with their responses, therefore weakening the strength of the data. The greatest contribution of this is that it helps us see the impact of social media on all people. People with mental illnesses are just as much a part of society as others and should be studied as well.

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The purpose of this study was to examine the predictor effects of four technological addictions, including Internet addiction, social media addiction, digital game addiction and smartphone addiction on social connectedness (Savci 2017).  The study was conducted on 201 adolescents (101 girls, 100 boys) who have been using Internet, playing digital games, and using social media for at least one year, and have at least one social media account and a smartphone. The Young’s Internet Addiction Test-Short Form, Social Media Disorder Scale, Digital Game Addiction Scale, Smartphone Addiction Scale-Short Version, Social Connectedness Scale, and Personal Information Form were used as data collection tools. According to Savci (2017), the analysis showed that Internet addiction, social media addiction, digital game addiction and smartphone addiction significantly predicted 25% of social connectedness. In addition, it has been determined that the strongest effect on social connectedness is from Internet addiction followed by social media addiction, digital game addiction, and smartphone addiction. The four technological addictions including Internet addiction, social media addiction, digital game addiction and smartphone addiction significantly affect social connectedness (p. 209). A study done by Sriwali (2016) showed similar results to this study, by concluding people who are more addicted to social media are not as connected to people around them and are less mindful. The strength of this study is that the data is collected through scales which provides validity for the results. The biggest contribution this study provides is that it helps us understand what parts of social media and technology affect our youth the most.

The purpose of this study is to see the impacts of social media addiction on mindfulness, coping strategies, and the consequence on emotional exhaustion. The participants of this study included 211 employees from 13 different enterprises in Thailand. The data was collected through a few different scales such as; Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, Mindfulness Attention and Addiction Scale, Maslach Burnout Inventory, and coping strategies were measured by a scale developed by Lewin and Sager (2008). According to Sriwali (2016), although social media provides significant benefits in many aspects, it is important to understand the negative impacts that it causes as well. Because people nowadays, especially teenagers, are more prone to social media addiction, it is important for societies to be concerned more about behavior towards social media access. Overall, we have found evidence of the negative impact that social media addiction has on these outcomes (p. 433). The findings of this study agree with the study done by Savci (2017). Both studies stated that addiction to social media or social networks have negative effects on the youth of today’s society. The strength of this study is that tests were measured by a scale therefore the results are more accurate. A possible weakness could be that the participants did not read the questions well enough to give truer answers for their tests. In my opinion, the biggest contribution this study provides is that it gives more insight on the issues with addiction to social media which can guide us into finding solutions for the specific problems.


 To conclude, the seven studies that I reviewed showed consistencies between data. Overall, studies show that social media creates more harm than good due to cyberbullying, lowered self-esteem, meaningless relationships, and addiction to social networks.  According to Savci (2017), “the state of excessive use, unsatisfied desire to use, neglect of activities due to excessive use, disrupting social relations due to excessive use, use as an escape tool from negative emotions and life stress, having problems in giving up and reducing the use, becoming nervous and anxious when it is not possible to use, and deceiving others regarding the duration and amount of use” defines internet addiction, social media addiction, digital game addiction and smartphone addiction (p. 204). This statement shows how detrimental social media and all that technology has to offer can be harming the youth of today. Due to effects shown in the studies, it is stated that it is highly likely for technological addictions to be included in the new DSM (Savci 2017). As a member of the emerging youth of today all the data I have reviewed seems to add up. Too many people are overwhelmingly into social media and technology. I know people who have anxiety when they do not have their phone on them. It does not seem mentally healthy to be that attached to a device or concept.

Regarding the topic of social media, it was not hard to find a lot of research on it. Especially in recent years, due to the dramatic increase of social media and technology use, an overwhelming amount of studies have been done to see the effects it has had on society. However, there was not as much research done on social media use for people with disabilities or mental illnesses. So, an unanswered question regarding that topic is, “why do people assume so easily that people with some sort of disorder are not a part of social media as much as the rest of society?” Other than the lack of social media use by the mentally ill or disabled, most questions are researched regarding social media. For future research, more research should be conducted on people with a disability and/or mental illness. Studies such as seeing how they interact with it on the day-to-day basis, what type of treatment they receive online, if they find it beneficial for their self-esteem, if it is easier for them to be socially active online rather than in person, etc. It appears that just as in the real world we tend to exclude people with disabilities and mental illness, we do the same in cyberspace.


  • Errasti, J., Amigo, I., & Villadangos, M. (2017). Emotional uses of Facebook and Twitter:               Its relation with empathy, narcissism, and self-esteem in adolescence. Psychological Reports, 120(6), 997-1018.
  • Marty-Dugas, J., Ralph, B. W., Oakman, J. M., & Smilek, D. (2018). The relation between smartphone use and everyday inattention. Psychology Of Consciousness: Theory, Research, And Practice, 5(1), 46-62.
  • Mohammed Yousef, W. S., & Bellamy, A. (2015). The impact of cyberbullying on the self-esteem and academic functioning of Arab American middle and high school students. Electronic Journal Of Research In Educational Psychology, 13(3), 463-482.
  • Naslund, J. A., Aschbrenner, K. A., & Bartels, S. J. (2016). How people with serious mental illness use smartphones, mobile apps, and social media. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 39(4), 364-367.
  • Savci, M., & Aysan, F. (2017). Technological addictions and social connectedness: Predictor effect of Internet addiction, social media addiction, digital game addiction and smartphone addiction on social connectedness. Düşünen Adam: Journal Of Psychiatry And Neurological Sciences, 30(3), 202-216.
  • Sriwilai, K., & Charoensukmongkol, P. (2016). Face it, don’t Facebook it: Impacts of social media addiction on mindfulness, coping strategies and the consequence on emotional exhaustion. Stress And Health: Journal Of The International Society For The Investigation Of Stress, 32(4), 427-434.
  • Yuen, E. K., Koterba, E. A., Stasio, M. J., Patrick, R. B., Gangi, C., Ash, P., & … Mansour, B. (2018). The Effects of Facebook on Mood in Emerging Adults. Psychology Of Popular Media Culture.


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