Instagram currently has more than 75 million users. It’s users range from young children to celebrities and everyone in between. Instagram is a social network used to share pictures you take with all of your friends and it allows for them to “like” and comment on your pictures. As time goes on, it looks like Instagram can end up being a very negative thing when it is misused. There is a term called “Instagram envy” that is a result of spending too much time on Instagram. It is people becoming unsettled with their lives when they see the things their friends and doing and posting online. The unhealthy thing about this is, most of the pictures they are seeing have been posed and edited and are not a good portrayal of reality. As quoted in the New York Times, a young women says “You’re searching through your feed and a picture will hit you. It’s just so perfect. You just think, ‘I want that, I want that life.’ ” She's reflecting on the jealousy that she feels when she spends too much time looking through other people’s Instagram posts. What she doesn’t realize though, is that these pictures have been edited with special filters and other things to make them appear different that they are. You are only seeing a distorted portion of reality through someones posts so it is unhealthy to be jealous of it.
Another hugely popular social network at the moment is Twitter. Twitter has over 220 million users and that number is rapidly increasing. Twitter is a place that people can write short 140 character messages and post them to their followers. It is also a place used by celebrities to keep their fans up to date and to interact with them. Many teenagers seem to use Twitter now because it is a “safe spot” since not many family members are on the website. "Some experts note that a growing number of teens are gravitating to Twitter precisely because many of their family members are not on it." I know many people who use twitter as an outlet to vent to their friends and followers about how they are. It can have just as bad consequences as Instagram though, but they are different. Twitter is a very easy place to get to know people online. You can also follow anyone you want which makes it an easy way to meet people online. Meeting people online can be a big safety concern. It is very widely known that talking to strangers over the internet has been the cause of multiple murders and kidnappings. Although that is a worst case scenario and it not that likely, it is possible. Even if you are speaking to a legitimate person online, this can lead to establishing poor relationships offline. It can lead you to become distant to friends and family when you are face-to-face since you are used to talking to people through a screen.
The opposing argument of course, is that spending a lot of time on social networks is not a negative thing. I agree that social networks are a great invention and that is why they are so popular among all age groups, specifically teenagers. There are also many positive sides to these websites. They make it easy for people to communicate with old friends and to share parts of their lives with other people. They are also a way to express yourself and to show people what you are thinking. Social networks can be a very positive part of a teenagers life IF they are used in moderation and for the right things.
Overall, I do believe that spending too much time on a social network site can influence you negatively. The negatives seem to outweigh the benefits because they are so serious and can cause long term effects. I think that parents and guardians should monitor their child's use of the internet and make sure they are not abusing social networks and websites. This way, they can stay a positive thing for everyone.
Conclusion, updated [5 March 2014]
After receiveing comments on this post, it has altered my opinion a bit. I have also considered the advantages to social networks, and realized that when used at moderation, social networking can be a good thing. As some people have pointed out, it opens new doors with communicating with people over the internet. It also makes it way easier to connect with old friends who you haven't seen in a long time. I still do, see the negative consequences though. They are still there and when misused, social networks CAN harm you as seen in the title of this post. I have already highlighted the main issues that are found with too much use. Although they are there and can be negative, the positives things can be too good for many teens and adults to turn down. That explains the great popularity that websites and apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have. People enjoy them because they are a good way to share your life and what is going on with friends and family members who you might not be able to connect with in person. I don't think that my original argument was strong enough to convince some people that social networks are bad. That might be because social networks are not always bad. Sure, there are consequences and issues that come with them, but there are also amazing new things we can learn from them. I am seeing these advantages now and reconsidering my opinion. I do stand by the issues mentioned in this post that social networks can cause. They are all 100% accurate and can happen if these websites are abused. Overall, I think it depends on if you are a smart user of the internet. If you are careful with the time you spend and the things you post, you will most likely enjoy social networking. If you let it consume your time, and you let it affect you too much, you will probably start to see the issues I am warning you of. It all comes down to you, and how you choose to use the internet.