Social media has been the fastest growing outlet for the past ten years. From MySpace to Instagram, Tumblr to Twitter, our generation has been consumed by technology and all of the different types of social media. Although social media is a great way to communicate with people and see what is going on in their lives, we have to ask ourselves a very important question; what are the effects of social media and how does it affect us personally?

The article “7 Negative Effects of Social Media on People and Users” from makeusof.com, a website that reports different statistics and facts about real-world problems, states that social media is actually a catalyst for depression; the more you compare your life to others’ lives, the more likely you are to find fault and become unhappy with what you have.

The website reports, “Spending more time on social media can be adversely affecting your mood. The more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to report poor mental health, including symptoms of anxiety and depression.”

The recommended amount of time one should spend on social media a day is 30 minutes or less; anything beyond opens up doors that can lead to comparison issues, self-esteem issues, depression or anxiety.

Another major negative factor of social media is the risk of Cyberbullying – something that is, unfortunately, extremely prevalent in our world today. Before social media and technology existed, bullying was a face-to-face problem, and you knew exactly who the cause of it was. In today’s world, bullying is mostly done online; something that is very hard to pinpoint. Cyberbullying is such a large problem because it is almost impossible to figure out who the bully is if it is a fake account. Not only is it hard to find out who is being the bully, it is one of the most difficult forms of bullying to punish. If you or someone you know is being cyberbullied, the best thing to do is to tell an adult, screenshot the comments/messages/posts, report the account and block the user. Either way, bullies exist and the best thing a person can do is to ignore them and move on with their life. Always remember that you are bigger than whatever name you were called by a bully – the only person who truly knows you is yourself.

Now that we have established a few of the negative effects of social media, what benefits does it have? Often times people believe social media only has a negative effect on people, but that is not the case.

The article, “Positive Effects of Social Media” from the website teenshield.com states, “While there have been many negative outcomes from social media, such as cyberbullying and other online dangers, social media can be used in ways that promote positive and productive ideas in society.”

Social media is seen as one of the best ways to educate young people. Technology in general has taken over our educational systems with laptops, iPads, online books and even tests online; one of the best ways to reach young people is through social media. Through ads, posts and videos, young teens are being educated over different topics, such as smoking or underage drinking, from the media that they are on the most. Social media can also educate teens on the importance of always being yourself and learning how to advocate for yourself. YouTube is a prime example of an outlet that teaches other people how to express themselves; from video games, makeup looks or song creations, YouTube is one of the most diverse forms of social media that teach teens and young adults how to be creative and express themselves.

Not only has social media been used as an educational outlet, it has also allowed young people’s minds to expand and become more creative. With digital design and features on posts, social media has opened opportunities for teens who have a passion for photography, design and editing. Instagram and YouTube are prime examples of sharing your creativity; between the two, you can share pictures, videos and music to people all around the world while opportunities continue to open up around you.

Everything in the world comes with positive and negative side effects, but it is up to you to decide if it is really worth it. If you manage your time on social media and use it as a creative outlet where you can express yourself rather than finding fault with things in your life, you will set yourself up for success in the world of technology.