Year 10 St Ninians Work Experience student, Callum McWhinnie, recently completed his work experience with PDMS as Marketing Assistant, and he has provided some interesting insights into the world of social media in our modern society.
Today social media is everywhere, on everyone’s mobile devices, smartwatches and computers. But does this help our modern society? Well, some could argue that it helps us communicate better with our family and friends, which in some cases is true but this can also bring many negative aspects. Kids in today’s world have access to social media like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and many others. However, having access to these platforms can attract risks, for example stalkers or child predators, but also other serious issues such as cyberbullying which can lead to anxiety and depression in teenagers. Certain ages can also be influenced by what they believe to be real, in particular, celebrity accounts where they compare themselves and their flaws to the perfection they see before them. This can often lead to some people believing themselves to be inadequate, skinny, fat, ugly…which again can lead to severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
For many people, social media is a platform for mean and negative things, involving the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. It can be racial, homophobic and even sexist. One in four teens get cyberbullied and with 80% of young people owning a mobile phone, they can be an easy target, resulting in severe health issues, and twice as likely leading to self-harm or suicide.
Social media, however, can be a wonderful asset in lots of different ways. It can be used to our advantage in the working environment, for example MSPCA use Facebook to help their organisation, by posting photographs of all their animals in need of help and adoption, with all the necessary information on them, so that they may find a lucky family to take in one of their animals. Many people also use social media to source potential vacancies where they can easily apply online, in fact PDMS often advertise vacancies on their Facebook page, as it’s a smart method to reach out to people. Similarly, social media is a great tool for general advertisements and promoting educational courses, which are easy to access and find all the relevant information.
But the one thing that decides if social media is good or bad is the way our society uses it. Social media can be wonderful, but equally if not used correctly, it can be horrible for our society – you could argue that publishing our life on our mobile device is a good way to express ourselves, but others believe it provides an opportunity to be judged for our imperfections: looking too fat or too skinny. In my opinion, there is no way of deciding if social media has a good or bad impact on our society, but we can enjoy it by using it for its intended purpose: keeping in touch with friends and family, and seeing what our peers are doing. Like most teenage children, I have experienced bullying in one way or another, thankfully never leading to anxiety or depression. I surrounded myself with good friends and family who have helped me stay strong, and ignore the negative things in my life, particularly if I can’t change them. So if you, or anyone you know, is suffering from cyberbullying or any type of bullying, make sure you tell someone: your parent/guardian, supervisor or teacher, as it shouldn’t be ignored and there is help out there.