Internet’s Influence Over Teens

If there’s a fourth fundamental aspect of modern life, it must be the Internet. As WWW expanded the boundaries of the internet exponentially, it started to slowly creep into everyone’s life. Today, it has been deeply rooted in our daily lives, and the ease of life without the internet is, in it’s true sense, unimaginable. This has resulted in the internet hugely affecting and actively influencing the perceptions, beliefs, habits, and relationships of people.

Now, among these “people,” the most vulnerable are the teenagers. Excited and influenced easily by what they see, as teenagers explore the internet and social media, they change their opinions, perceptions, and beliefs based on information floating around on the internet.

As social media applications like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. have captured almost all teenagers on their platforms by now, what the algorithms of these social media apps promote to teens subtly and profoundly affects them. Teenage is a vulnerable and critical stage, and teens tend to fantasize and want to have what they see online. Teens copy their favorite social media influencers and try to be like them. They try to live up to the picture-perfect lifestyle and beauty standards online. They seek online validation.

The way these algorithms are designed, they polarize people’s views online by showing them only what they want to see, what they believe to be true, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. “Comfort them with what they want to hear”, is their mantra, doesn’t matter what they hear; it could be misinformation.

 They just try to hook people onto their apps and make them use the internet most of the time. This not only makes teens waste their important time uselessly on the internet, but studies have shown that excessive social media use increases anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Teens are, by nature, emotionally weak or unstable. Pair that with the effects of social media and the internet, and the result is increased depression and suicide rates. This is a real thing.

Recently, on January 31, 2024, in a US Senate hearing, senators grilled CEOs of big social media giants like Zuckerberg and TikTok regarding child sexual exploitation and self-harm content being shown to teens. “What???”, you may ask, but it is real. The social media giants actively pushed self-harm and child nudity content, which led to sexual exploitation and even the suicide of many US teens, for which Zuckerberg was made to apologize by the senators. Who knows, the next exploitation victim could be one of us?

People are holding photographs of child sexual exploitation victims.

As if these negative influences and effects weren’t enough, the internet has widespread cyberbullying and harassment, to which many teens easily fall prey.

It’s high time that we teens start to consume content and use the internet with an active mind, really realize to what extent we are being influenced by social media and the internet, and change our online habits accordingly to not be blinded by the algorithm and digital space but instead be open minded towards the actual world, towards offline relationships with our loved ones, offline meet-ups, and being in touch with Mother Nature.

Today. No. Right after reading this blog, let’s just put our phone down, look out of our window, feel the air, the sky, and the trees around us, and be grateful to be fine at this moment.

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