Looking back at the decade that in a few months will come to a close, the one thing that has dominated much of everyone’s lives at one point or another is social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Skype, Vine, Tumblr — and I’m probably missing some. Then you have dating apps. Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Hinge, at many more. The internet, and smartphones, have combined to create a universe in which a lot of people have lost the ability to have in person conversations, make eye contact with others or even live with delayed gratification. We want everything to happen in seconds — news feeds loading the second we open the app, typing texts messages faster than we can send them, and ultimately speeding up the process of “growing up” which really just slows it down.
Back in 2010, or even generally the first half of the decade, things such as Snapchat or Twitter may have generally been used by teens and adults, but today that is not the case. There are plenty of young kids walking around with smartphones with social media accounts.
While social media and dating apps may be a leading cause of a lack of interpersonal skills in society, the fact is, social media is here, it’s going to be here, so whether you like it or not, the only way we can combat the challenges it presents is to learn to how to live with it.
The access to social media is alarming easy for kids at any age, and starting on a bad path — cyberbullying, using social media accounts inappropriately and everything in between — is what is affecting our world in such a huge way. Once a child is allowed to have any social media account, when things go wrong or they experience something negative, taking that account away or banning them from using it isn’t going to help. We need to get to the root of the problem. It’s not the social media (though social media amplifies the problems way faster), it’s the bullying, the cruel words or actions of others.
These apps can also provide a great platform for families to stay in touch with each other. Those that may live far away from family, have friends who they don’t get to see often — a video chat or FaceTime, the ability to send a text every day, and keep up with people’s lives on Facebook can be a great thing. Social media is a strong platform for those who traditional and mainstream sources may not listen to or acknowledge as much. The emergence of smartphones has given a lot of good to the world, but the world hasn’t figured out how to combat the bad.