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Adolescence, Media and the Internet 

Updated April 18, 2021
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Adolescence, Media and the Internet  essay

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In today’s day and age, young adults are greatly affected by social media applications and other forms of media websites. During my research on Adolescence, Media, and the Internet, I have read many articles regarding this topic, hoping to find more information on how young adults today are being affected by social media and everything that comes with the internet.

One specific article I came across was, “The use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety”, by Brian Primack. This article was very important for my research because it specified and explained the relationship between the internet and psychological diseases, such as depression and anxiety. Throughout the research done in this article, it has been found that a factor of increased depression and anxiety was not only due to time spent on social media, but mainly the use of multiple social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.

Although these sites may create opportunities talk with family and friends, it also is the main factor of depression and anxiety. This study focused on young adults, both male and female, with ages varying from 18 to 32. This sample of people is also varied by race and ethnicity, along with other environmental and personal factors including relationship status, living situation, household income, or education level.

The main purpose of this study was based on online surveys on this group of people regarding depression and anxiety and the use of multiple social media platforms. This survey had a total of 1,768 participants that answered a series of questions regarding this topic. As a result, it was found that “29% of the respondents were classified as having severe levels of self-reported depression and 30% had severe levels of anxiety symptoms” (Primack, 2017, p. 4). In conclusion, using a wide variety of different social media subsequently leads to depressive or anxiety symptoms.

Social media is continually growing and is especially influencing young adults today. As I did some more research on the topic of Adolescence, Media and the Internet, I found a few more articles from the Fredonia databases, by using Academic Search Complete. Searching through these sources, another great article for this topic was, “Social media and loneliness: Why an instagram picture may be worth more than a thousand Twitter words”, by Matthew Pittman.

This article was a great resource for my topic because it’s main focus is on social media platforms having an effect on adolescence and the feeling of loneliness, happiness, and satisfaction with life. Specifically focusing on social media applications such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, “young adults today are found to be one of the loneliness generations ever.” (Pittman, 2017, p. 156).

Although human beings are more connected than ever before, this article shows that the problem of loneliness may be at its highest in societies with the most social media usage. This article is based on surveys on young adults, ages 18 to 29. This age group in particular is being researched because it has been discovered that adolescents are more comfortable with online communication than adults are. About 253 undergraduates participated in this study, both male and female, from a large university in North Western United States.

These participants were tested based on happiness scales, loneliness scales, and measures of satisfaction with life and the results had many ups and downs. In conclusion, the results may be surprising to others in the fact that, “the more image based social media platforms adolescents use, the happier and more satisfied with life they are, and the less lonely he or she is likely to be.” (Pittman, 2016, p. 164). With these findings, Matthew Pittman and his research team have shown society the potential side effects of social media use.

As I continued my research on how the young generations are being affected by today’s advanced technologies and social media, one last article that has been extremely beneficial is from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Written by Brian Primack, “Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S.”, is an excellent study for my topic.

This article has been a great addition to my research because it deeply explains how social media platforms that are used by young adults are commonly associated with social isolation. Social isolation is a term often related with loneliness, “in which a person lacks the sense of social belonging or true engagement with others” (Primack p. 1). In this article, a sample of about 1,787 participants from the United States, ages between 19 to 32, were represented in the study. The subjects in this study were divided into age groups, race/ethnicity, and other environmental factors that may have affected the results to get a more accurate outcome.

This cross-sectional survey expressed social media usage and both time and frequency with the previous platforms mentioned, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and more. Perceived social isolation was measured by using the scale known as “Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System” and the results were documented. The research design was made to provide precise, valid and reliable questionnaires for the participants in means of their physical, mental and social health. Specifically, the social isolation scale was assessed by the questions regarding exclusion, disconnection, and detachment. The major findings of this study were, young adults with high social media usage seem to feel more socially isolated than those who do not spend as much time and frequency online.

Throughout the Adolescent Development course, I have been able to learn and understand the major concepts related to the development and growth of children and young adults. The main focuses have been on the physical, mental, and emotional influences on human growth periods on adolescence and how outside environments influence them as well. As I continued this research paper on Adolescence, Media and the Internet, I have been able to relate what we have learned in class with the results I have found during my search.

After I read through each article, I was able to form connections between my findings and relate them to one another. For example, with the first article I used, entitled “The use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety”, one of the most eye-opening discoveries was, “the use of social media platforms is independently associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety, even when controlling overall time spent on social media.” (Primack, 2017, p. 8). I believe this quote is worthy to mention because it really just shows the bigger picture of how the use of many social media apps can lead to negative outcomes on young adults.

Because this generation is increasingly engaged with social media, these negative effects are leading to mental health problems. The matter of the fact is that “90% of young adults in the U.S. use social media, and the majority of users visit these sites at least once a day.” (Primack, 2017, p. 1). This really proves how many adolescents are being influenced by social media, and the number is almost 100% in one country alone. This study showed very shocking information and results which I was very surprised to find.

With other information that I have gathered, I can also compare this study to my second article, known as “Social media and loneliness: Why an instagram picture may be worth more than a thousand Twitter words”, by Matthew Pittman. As I went through this study, one thing that I found very similar to the first article was that there were some findings that had shed light on the feeling of loneliness. The connection that I found was that there are more negative feelings that may result in using social platforms, specifically in this case, image-based platforms.

An example from this article is from the quote, “It is lack of this intimate communication that is most likely to cause loneliness, even if one has many contacts in his or her social media network” (Pittman, 2016, p. 158). I find this very important to my study because it gives a deeper explanation of why the feeling of loneliness might occur from social media. When adolescents are spending so much time on their technology, it takes away from the time that could be spent on social interactions that develop true intimacy with other people.

Last but not least, my third article, “Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S.”, played a very important role in this research as well. Along with the discussion of depression, anxiety, and the feeling of loneliness, social media use also has shown signs of leading to social isolation. All of these terms seem to intertwine with one another. This leads me to believe that social media is not all good like most people see it. I understand that it is difficult to see the bad in all of these advanced, impressive and stylish technologies, but it is clear to see there are major setbacks regarding the mental health and growth of adolescents.

“It may be that individuals who are already feeling socially isolated tend to subsequently use more social media; those with fewer “in person” social outlets may turn to online networks as a substitute.”, stated by Brian Primack. This shows how isolated people use media as an escape from the real world. Another example that shows how the internet may lead to social isolation is shown in the quote: “an individual may discover pictures or other evidence of events to which they were not invited.” (Primack, 2017, p. 6). This is a specific example of how one person might feel left out, jealous, abandoned, etc because of seeing something on social media. I find it very interesting how the internet is a place for millions of people to connect with each other, but there is an alternative effect that leads to the feeling of disconnection as well.

From all of the articles that I used, I was not only able to connect my findings, but I was also able to compare and contrast all of the results within class content as well and see how the studies tie in together. I have learned about how mass media has grown to be such a major part of a typical teenagers life. From reading through the textbook Adolescence, written by Laurence Steinberg, I was able to obtain a deeper look on the exact chapter on “Adolescence, Media and the Internet” and how media seems to have taken over. For instance, Steinberg really focused on describing how media exposure is a rising matter. The author explains,

“Adolescents’ total media exposure- the amount of time they spend each day using one of the mass media- is extremely high, and subsequently higher than it was 20 years ago. The average adolescent spends nearly 8 hours each day using one or more media, and this includes time spent using different media simultaneously.” (Steinberg, 2017, p. 197)

This information was important in my research as well because it does a great job at highlighting the increasing technology over the years and how much it has really taken over the lives of young people. In class, we read through this textbook and go over main ideas from each chapter. Specifically, we have reviewed the importance of how adolescents develop and grow in our society and I have chosen to focus this paper on rising technology and adolescent development.

References

  1. Pittman, M., & Reich, B. (2016). Social media and loneliness: Why an Instagram picture may be worth more than a thousand Twitter words. Computers in Human Behavior, 62, 155–167. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.03.084
  2. Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Escobar-Viera, C. G., Barrett, E. L., Sidani, J. E., Colditz, J. B., & James, A. E. (2017). Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among U.S. young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.013
  3. Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Sidani, J. E., Whaite, E. O., Lin, L. yi, Rosen, D., … Miller, E. (2017). Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2017.01.010
  4. Steinberg, L. (2017). Adolescents, Media, and the Internet., Adolescence (11th ed., pp. 196-206). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education
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