Social media sites and apps provide a way for people of all ages to share their thoughts, photos, videos, and connect with loved ones as well as those with similar interests. According to Hootsuite, 82% of North Americans are using social media. There are many benefits of social media use, including being able to communicate with family members, being able to see what others are up to, and staying up to date with the latest news.
However, social networking sites aren’t always great to use. They can have a negative impact on users and can expose them to many hidden dangers. To protect yourself on these platforms, learn about the dangers of social media use below.
What Social Media Platforms Are Most Commonly Used?
- Facebook: Often referred to as one of the original social media platforms, Facebook is a place for people to connect with friends and family, share what’s going on with their life, and talk with those who have similar interests. The platform originated the concept of “liking” a post.
- Twitter: Twitter is the platform if you want to be informed on the “latest” events going on in the world, including politics, entertainment, and news. Users can instantly “Tweet” their thoughts and opinions, or reply to other’s tweets as well.
- Instagram: Love sharing photos and videos? Instagram is the platform to do just that. Share media related to your life that you want your followers to see. On this platform, users follow influencers to see what’s trending and cool.
- Snapchat: Snapchat is where users can share short video or photo content with other people that disappears within 24 hours. This is popular among young people who don’t want their parents seeing what they’re sharing. The platform is often known for its face and augmented reality filters users can utilize.
- TikTok: TikTok is the newest social media app where users can share 15 – 60 seconds clips. They can be of lip syncing, comedy, makeup tutorials… anything you can imagine! The platform provides many useful effects and features users can use to enhance their videos.
- YouTube: If you like to post or watch videos, YouTube is the platform to use. Creators on YouTube post short and long form content about technology, business, fashion, and much more. The concept of “Vlogs” took off on this platform, where users video themselves talking about a specific topic.
The Dangers & Risks of Social Media Use
Social Media Addiction
Just like phone addiction, social media addiction occurs when someone is excessively using social media. The typical signs someone suffers from this addiction include phone possessiveness, isolation, lack of in-person social skills and communication, lack of sleep, and an increase in stress or anxiety.
FOMO (fear of missing out) refers to when people get anxiety over events that are occurring without them. This feeling often arises when social media users see posts from their friends and family members.
Technology use continues to fuel cyberbullying through text, social media, and other online communication outlets. According to Enough.org, 42% of youth experience cyberbullying on Instagram, 37% on Facebook, 31% on Snapchat, and 10% on YouTube. Also, cyberbullying isn’t exclusive to kids either. It often happens to adults by strangers on the internet who just want to hurt others in order to feel better about themselves.
It has been proven that social media use can negatively impact a user’s mental health, especially among children. According to a report conducted by The Children’s Society:
- 38% of kids reported using social media negatively impacted their mindset.
- 46% of girls said that social media use had a negative impact on their self-esteem.
- Young kids feel inadequate when they don’t get enough followers and likes.
Other mental health issues that can be caused by social media use include suicidal thoughts, depressions and a lack of confidence.
It’s a common occurrence that social media accounts are targeted by hackers. However, it’s also possible for devices or other online accounts to get hacked through social media as well. Social media hacking often occurs when someone clicks on a link sent by someone, or accepts a friend request from a stranger or someone portraying their friend or family member. Once hacked, the online criminal can get access to the user’s personal information, messages, and more.
Personal Information Collection
Websites, apps, and online services aren’t perfect. Often, the platforms collect your personal information and data to “improve their service”. In recent years, social media platforms have been more transparent about what data they collect from users (if any) and have offered enhanced data control and privacy features. These settings allow users to choose what data they want and don’t want these platforms to have access to. The concern of social media data privacy increased when it was found out that Facebook gave Cambridge Analytica access to user data without user permission and knowledge.
Social media sites can be used by anyone, unfortunately this includes sex offenders as well. There’s no vetting process to exclude these criminals from the platforms, even though they are commonly used by children. Often, they will even attempt to catfish children by pretending to be someone that is close to their age and attractive. Messages are exchanged between the offender and child, eventually leading the offender to ask for explicit photos or videos.
How one is perceived by others is something most people care about. However, social media content can damage a person’s personal or professional reputation in a second. An explicit photo, obscene comment, political statement, or drunk post could lead to one’s reputation being tarnished forever.
Now, these social media dangers aren’t supposed to deter you from using social media. They are a warning to be careful what you post and who you connect with on the platforms.
Learn More: Smartphone and Social Media Safety
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