At a press conference for her latest film, singer and actress Selena Gomez stated social media has been “terrible for my generation,” and she’s right.
Social media has led to a rise in mental problems for young users that includes anxiety/depression and the bullying of children. The peer pressure online of trying to become famous and gain a large audience has real-world consequences; it is not simply innocent behavior or just something to do for some kicks. The comments aimed toward children can cause serious mental damage or even help play a part in tragedies.
A Malaysian teenager jumped to her death, according to Reuters after asking her followers on Instagram to answer a poll on her page that asked if she should choose death or life. The Sarawak, Malaysia district police chief Aidil Bolhassan told Reuters they were conducting a post-mortem to determine if other factors contributed to her death as she had a history of depression.
While other issues probably influenced her to commit suicide, no doubt the mental toll of the social media culture played a part in her ultimately making a heartbreaking and awful decision.
While not every young person or even a majority may be influenced to go as far as to commit suicide over social media, these websites and apps still can cause harm to the mental health of children.
Gomez is right when she called social media “dangerous” and impossible to make safe for children at this point, according to the UK Guardian. While parents worry about all the dangers outside of their house in the world for their kids, some of the most dangerous might be lurking inside their home just a tap away on an app.
Chad Whittle, Ph.D. holds a doctoral degree in mass communication and is the host of “A Whittle Bit of Commentary.” Subscribe today to his podcast on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Google Play. Read his daily column at ChadWhittle.com and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.