“We have focused on opioid abuse addiction, healthy living, kindness, compassion, nutrition, and the importance of education. Today’s topic of social media and technology is no different” (Melania Trump). Too bad the rest of society doesn’t understand.  However, parents and educators don’t realize how the social media and smartphone epidemic is affecting on average every 1 of 4 students due to online harassment and cyberbullying. Technology and social media platforms are attacking innocent children due to immature people on the internet. Today, people are lacking the common core of respect and that’s thanks to the internet. Social media in adolescence is an epidemic that is affecting life skills, safety, and poor parenting.

Throughout the years of social media there has been nothing but issues for some. According to research, the social media and smartphone epidemic is affecting many students: considering that the amount of people using cellphones has skyrocketed along with the abundance of issues that come along with it. According to an article called, “Number of Social Media Users Worldwide 2010-2021,” which revealed that,  “In 2019, it is estimated that there will be around 2.77 billion social media users around the globe, up from 2.46 billion in 2017.” This statistic may be a good thing to social media platforms because it’s good for revenue but no so good for the rest of us.

People are astonished by the mind-boggling cyber-bullying epidemic that is attacking our society. The CNN article by Kate Bennett titled,  “Melania Trump Addresses Critics Head-On,” revealed that on average every 1 in 4 students bullied are victims of online harassment and cyberbullying. Technology and social media platforms are attacking innocent children due to immature people on the internet. For example, according to a study,  “Megan Meier was a thirteen-year-old girl who committed suicide in 2006 after being bullied on the social media platform MySpace” ( Preventing and Reporting Cyberbullying). This demonstrates not only how the use of social media is connected to the overuse of devices but it puts people’s lives in danger.  Evidently, social media use can be overwhelming and that it doesn’t matter how you’re using the platform but how others around harass you on the platform. Additionally, another jaw-dropping Guardian article titled, “Number of Children Who Are Victims of Cyber-bullying Doubles in a Year,” revealed that “In a poll of 11 to 17 year old kids, 35% reported that they have experienced cyber-bullying compared with 16% last year.  4 in 10 said they had witnessed others being picked on online – almost double the 22% recorded last year.” This statistic is not only relevant but demonstrates how it’s affecting the safety of the adolescent souls.

According to the UCLA Children’s Digital Media Center, which conducted a study that discovered that sixth grade students in 2017 were having trouble reading facial emotions due to the overuse of texting instead of face to face conversations. This is also a huge result of poor parenting because at restaurants parents tend to just put an iPad in front of their child instead of having a conversation. For example, another study from UCLA stated that parents are even rubbing off on this type of spaced out behavior. A source for UCLA stated, “I often respond with a uh-huh and when he’s replying with the same language it’s because he is on his iPad.” This is something that parents need to be aware of because they need to enforce boundaries with devices. If there is no action taken, a result can be troubled speech and public speaking issues. Furthermore,  the main part of this issue is going to affect children’s life skills.

Although some will say that technology and social media is good for adolescents, as it can help them socialize, there are better ways to do so. Instead of sitting in front of a screen, kids can go outside and play with other kids in their neighborhood. Additionally, social media has a lot of strange people, which most parents wouldn’t want their kids to interact with. In addition, relationships that are created through social media aren’t always safe. This is because a child can be interacting with an “internet troll.”  Although, it seems alright to some parents to have their kids use technology for distraction, they don’t realize that the internet is a devil in disguise.

Obviously, there are ways to improve this epidemic. First, we can start with parents. Instead of having kids play with online games and starting social media accounts they should play with puzzles.  According to the article, “6 Reasons Why Jigsaw Puzzles Are Good For Children,”  by pediatrician Parama Gupta, “parents can substitute puzzles to help build hand eye coordination and brain building.” To add, schools should be talking to students once a month to remind students of the safety issues about having social media accounts at such a young age. Furthermore, this crisis can be solved. However, we have to focus on limiting and restricting adolescence usage of social media. According to a Harvard study, over 92% of students are on their cellphones playing with social media accounts instead of learning. Moreover, critics say that we will have a society of people that will text in board meetings instead of speaking, due to parents are letting children play on devices instead of speaking to one another.

Evidently, there is an epidemic threatening our society. Children are getting harassed by other children online, people are dying, and parents are in denial. Statistics on cyberbullying are doubling rather than decreasing. There is a break in our society due to the disconnect we have with one another. People these days live on social media; However, they are forgetting the quality of having a connection with someone face to face. If this behavior is continued, people will forget what it means to talk with someone. We need change in America, and it starts with all of us.

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