Skip to content

Read the latest news stories about Mailman faculty, research, and events. 


We integrate an innovative skills-based curriculum, research collaborations, and hands-on field experience to prepare students.

Learn more about our research centers, which focus on critical issues in public health.

Our Faculty

Meet the faculty of the Mailman School of Public Health. 

Become a Student

Life and community, how to apply.

Learn how to apply to the Mailman School of Public Health. 

Just How Harmful Is Social Media? Our Experts Weigh-In.

A recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook was aware of mental health risks linked to the use of its Instagram app but kept those findings secret. Internal research by the social media giant found that Instagram worsened body image issues for one in three teenage girls, and all teenage users of the app linked it to experiences of anxiety and depression. It isn’t the first evidence of social media’s harms. Watchdog groups have identified Facebook and Instagram as avenues for cyberbullying , and reports have linked TikTok to dangerous and antisocial behavior, including a recent spate of school vandalism .

As social media has proliferated worldwide—Facebook has 2.85 billion users—so too have concerns over how the platforms are affecting individual and collective wellbeing. Social media is criticized for being addictive by design and for its role in the spread of misinformation on critical issues from vaccine safety to election integrity, as well as the rise of right-wing extremism. Social media companies, and many users, defend the platforms as avenues for promoting creativity and community-building. And some research has pushed back against the idea that social media raises the risk for depression in teens . So just how healthy or unhealthy is social media?

Two experts from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia Psychiatry share their insights into one crucial aspect of social media’s influence—its effect on the mental health of young people and adults. Deborah Glasofer , associate professor of psychology in psychiatry, conducts psychotherapy development research for adults with eating disorders and teaches about cognitive behavioral therapy. She is the co-author of the book Eating Disorders: What Everyone Needs to Know. Claude Mellins , Professor of medical psychology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Sociomedical Sciences, studies wellbeing among college and graduate students, among other topics, and serves as program director of CopeColumbia, a peer support program for Columbia faculty and staff whose mental health has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She co-led the SHIFT research study to reduce sexual violence among undergraduates. Both use social media.

What do we know about the mental health risks of social media use?

Mellins : Facebook and Instagram and other social media platforms are important sources of socialization and relationship-building for many young people. Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors, and can be detrimental to mental health. Girls and young people who identify as sexual and gender minorities can be especially vulnerable as targets. Young people’s brains are still developing, and as individuals, young people are developing their own identities. What they see on social media can define what is expected in ways that is not accurate and that can be destructive to identity development and self-image. Adolescence is a time of risk-taking, which is both a strength and a vulnerability. Social media can exacerbate risks, as we have seen played out in the news. 

Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors, and can be detrimental to mental health. – Claude Mellins

Glasofer : For those vulnerable to developing an eating disorder, social media may be especially unhelpful because it allows people to easily compare their appearance to their friends, to celebrities, even older images of themselves. Research tells us that how much someone engages with photo-related activities like posting and sharing photos on Facebook or Instagram is associated with less body acceptance and more obsessing about appearance. For adolescent girls in particular, the more time they spend on social media directly relates to how much they absorb the idea that being thin is ideal, are driven to try to become thin, and/or overly scrutinize their own bodies. Also, if someone is vulnerable to an eating disorder, they may be especially attracted to seeking out unhelpful information—which is all too easy to find on social media.

Are there any upsides to social media?

Mellins : For young people, social media provides a platform to help them figure out who they are. For very shy or introverted young people, it can be a way to meet others with similar interests. During the pandemic, social media made it possible for people to connect in ways when in-person socialization was not possible.  Social support and socializing are critical influences on coping and resilience. Friends we couldn’t see in person were available online and allowed us important points of connection. On the other hand, fewer opportunities for in-person interactions with friends and family meant less of a real-world check on some of the negative influences of social media.

Whether it’s social media or in person, a good peer group makes the difference. A group of friends that connects over shared interests like art or music, and is balanced in their outlook on eating and appearance, is a positive. – Deborah Glasofer

Glasofer : Whether it’s social media or in person, a good peer group makes the difference. A group of friends that connects over shared interests like art or music, and is balanced in their outlook on eating and appearance, is a positive. In fact, a good peer group online may be protective against negative in-person influences. For those with a history of eating disorders, there are body-positive and recovery groups on social media. Some people find these groups to be supportive; for others, it’s more beneficial to move on and pursue other interests.

Is there a healthy way to be on social media?

Mellins : If you feel social media is a negative experience, you might need a break. Disengaging with social media permanently is more difficult­—especially for young people. These platforms are powerful tools for connecting and staying up-to-date with friends and family. Social events, too. If you’re not on social media then you’re reliant on your friends to reach out to you personally, which doesn’t always happen. It’s complicated.

Glasofer : When you find yourself feeling badly about yourself in relation to what other people are posting about themselves, then social media is not doing you any favors. If there is anything on social media that is negatively affecting your actions or your choices­—for example, if you’re starting to eat restrictively or exercise excessively—then it’s time to reassess. Parents should check-in with their kids about their lives on social media. In general, I recommend limiting social media— creating boundaries that are reasonable and work for you—so you can be present with people in your life. I also recommend social media vacations. It’s good to take the time to notice the difference between the virtual world and the real world.

social media is dangerous essay

Social Media Is a Public Health Crisis. Let’s Treat It Like One.

It’s time to take old approaches to a new threat of addiction.

Social Media Is a Public Health Crisis

Cropped shot of a group of friends using their phones together outdoors

More than half of recent survey respondents said their social media use intensified their feelings of anxiety, depression or loneliness. Getty Images

When it comes to social media, the red flags just keep appearing.

Amid debate , experts have found that social media use appears linked to negative mental health impacts among young people. Researchers have noted a rise in depression among young people since about 2012 , with use of social media among teens and their amount of time spent online increasing in close proximity. Earlier this year, the Reboot Foundation, which I run, surveyed more than 1,000 Americans on their social media usage – and we found a disturbing impact on mental health.

All this points to how our social media usage has become a public health crisis. I believe we need to start treating these platforms like we do cigarettes and alcohol. That means implementing warning labels and age restrictions, and conducting better research into the health effects of long-term usage.

Just last week, President Joe Biden said the rampant misinformation on Facebook related to COVID-19 is "killing" people. Yet while the explosion and prevalence of misinformation of this type is a serious problem, it is by no means the only threat to public health. Social media's threat to our national mental health is at least as dangerous as anti-vaccine disinformation.

Sound over the top? Then consider that more than half of people we surveyed acknowledged that their social media use intensified their feelings of anxiety, depression or loneliness. They also told us that it contributed to their low self-esteem and made it harder for them to concentrate. Yet despite recognizing these deleterious effects, only about a third said they had taken steps to limit their social media use, such as deleting or suspending social media accounts, turning off their phones or limiting time on their feeds.

I find it incredible that even though users know the harm social media is having on their mental health, they're unwilling – or unable – to limit their use of these platforms. It's a lot like smokers and their cigarettes. We should treat it that way.

What's required is nothing less than digital detox, on a societywide scale.

What if every time you opened Instagram, you first saw a warning label like those found on cigarettes? "Caution : Social Media May Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health."

Worst Communities for Mental Health in the U.S.

Intersection of roads in small coal mining town in WV during rain

Or when you logged into Facebook, you saw this: "Warning: Facebook may increase feelings of depression or loneliness and suicidal thoughts."

Or whenever you received a Twitter notification, this came with it: "Warning: Heavy social media use is linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety."

There is a strong urge to dismiss concerns about social media as a " moral panic " and to compare it to other communication innovations like the printing press or the telephone, which raised serious worries in their own time that turned out to be largely unfounded. But there's good reason to think we are dealing with a very different problem today.

With a growing body of research confirming the link between social media and poor mental health, it may be time to consider government regulations restricting who can create a social media account. If you must be 18 to buy tobacco products or 21 to drink alcohol, why can any 13-year-old with internet access open a TikTok account ?

There's no doubt that, in the coming years, research will produce new insights into social media, its negative effects and possible policy solutions. That's sorely needed. But scientific progress takes time. Meanwhile, more must be done today to lessen the negative impacts of social media, on both an individual and societal level. This means improving the social media environment itself, and encouraging people to use it in a healthier way.

As tech and social media have become more and more addictive, "digital detox" has become more and more popular. A break from smartphones, and especially social media, has been shown, both anecdotally and in research , to increase people's productivity, lift their mood and help them spend more time with loved ones.

The list of people who've turned to digital detox is long. There's the writer who was spending 40 hours a week on her phone and making little progress on her novel; or the tech journalist who couldn't tear himself away from Twitter to the point that he was ignoring his friends ; or the New Yorker trying to build a career in fashion who took a break to help him make connections in the city.

But voluntary breaks aren't enough, primarily because people won't take them. Our research has shown that some 40% of social media users would give up their pet or car before they'd give up their accounts. And shockingly, more than 70% said they would not permanently scrap their social media for anything less than $10,000.

This is not healthy behavior.

Social media is currently designed for virality and addiction . People may willingly share their data in exchange for a free service that they value. But they have not agreed to submit to experimental manipulation that encourages slot machine-like behavior and can drive feelings of anxiety and depression. What's more, the algorithmic elevation of sensationalistic content distorts users' perception of political realities, promotes polarization, and worse. Limits, standards and regulation are needed.

It's time we started treating social media for what it is: an addictive activity with serious health implications. Detoxifying from social media will require commitment on several different levels – regulatory, educational and individual.

Ultimately, this challenge can become an opportunity to prioritize mental health and clear thinking, and to cherish that most precious gift of all: our minds.

Join the Conversation

Tags: social networking , public health

Recommended Articles

Healthiest Communities Health News

social media is dangerous essay

Best States

social media is dangerous essay

Healthiest Communities

social media is dangerous essay

  • # 1 Los Alamos County, NM
  • # 2 Falls Church city, VA
  • # 3 Douglas County, CO
  • # 4 Morgan County, UT
  • # 5 Carver County, MN

Health News Bulletin

Stay informed on the latest news on health and COVID-19 from the editors at U.S. News & World Report.

Sign in to manage your newsletters »

Sign up to receive the latest updates from U.S News & World Report and our trusted partners and sponsors. By clicking submit, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policy .


The 10 worst presidents.

U.S. News Staff July 6, 2021

social media is dangerous essay

Photos: Obama Behind the Scenes

U.S. News Staff April 8, 2022

social media is dangerous essay

Cartoons on President Donald Trump

Feb. 1, 2017

social media is dangerous essay

10 Countries With the Best Health Care

Steven Ross Johnson Sept. 6, 2023

social media is dangerous essay

The 25 Best Countries in the World

Elliott Davis Jr. Sept. 6, 2023

social media is dangerous essay

To revisit this article, select My Account, then   View saved stories

To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories

How Harmful Is Social Media?

By Gideon Lewis-Kraus

A socialmedia battlefield

In April, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt published an essay in The Atlantic in which he sought to explain, as the piece’s title had it, “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid.” Anyone familiar with Haidt’s work in the past half decade could have anticipated his answer: social media. Although Haidt concedes that political polarization and factional enmity long predate the rise of the platforms, and that there are plenty of other factors involved, he believes that the tools of virality—Facebook’s Like and Share buttons, Twitter’s Retweet function—have algorithmically and irrevocably corroded public life. He has determined that a great historical discontinuity can be dated with some precision to the period between 2010 and 2014, when these features became widely available on phones.

“What changed in the 2010s?” Haidt asks, reminding his audience that a former Twitter developer had once compared the Retweet button to the provision of a four-year-old with a loaded weapon. “A mean tweet doesn’t kill anyone; it is an attempt to shame or punish someone publicly while broadcasting one’s own virtue, brilliance, or tribal loyalties. It’s more a dart than a bullet, causing pain but no fatalities. Even so, from 2009 to 2012, Facebook and Twitter passed out roughly a billion dart guns globally. We’ve been shooting one another ever since.” While the right has thrived on conspiracy-mongering and misinformation, the left has turned punitive: “When everyone was issued a dart gun in the early 2010s, many left-leaning institutions began shooting themselves in the brain. And, unfortunately, those were the brains that inform, instruct, and entertain most of the country.” Haidt’s prevailing metaphor of thoroughgoing fragmentation is the story of the Tower of Babel: the rise of social media has “unwittingly dissolved the mortar of trust, belief in institutions, and shared stories that had held a large and diverse secular democracy together.”

These are, needless to say, common concerns. Chief among Haidt’s worries is that use of social media has left us particularly vulnerable to confirmation bias, or the propensity to fix upon evidence that shores up our prior beliefs. Haidt acknowledges that the extant literature on social media’s effects is large and complex, and that there is something in it for everyone. On January 6, 2021, he was on the phone with Chris Bail, a sociologist at Duke and the author of the recent book “ Breaking the Social Media Prism ,” when Bail urged him to turn on the television. Two weeks later, Haidt wrote to Bail, expressing his frustration at the way Facebook officials consistently cited the same handful of studies in their defense. He suggested that the two of them collaborate on a comprehensive literature review that they could share, as a Google Doc, with other researchers. (Haidt had experimented with such a model before.) Bail was cautious. He told me, “What I said to him was, ‘Well, you know, I’m not sure the research is going to bear out your version of the story,’ and he said, ‘Why don’t we see?’ ”

Bail emphasized that he is not a “platform-basher.” He added, “In my book, my main take is, Yes, the platforms play a role, but we are greatly exaggerating what it’s possible for them to do—how much they could change things no matter who’s at the helm at these companies—and we’re profoundly underestimating the human element, the motivation of users.” He found Haidt’s idea of a Google Doc appealing, in the way that it would produce a kind of living document that existed “somewhere between scholarship and public writing.” Haidt was eager for a forum to test his ideas. “I decided that if I was going to be writing about this—what changed in the universe, around 2014, when things got weird on campus and elsewhere—once again, I’d better be confident I’m right,” he said. “I can’t just go off my feelings and my readings of the biased literature. We all suffer from confirmation bias, and the only cure is other people who don’t share your own.”

Haidt and Bail, along with a research assistant, populated the document over the course of several weeks last year, and in November they invited about two dozen scholars to contribute. Haidt told me, of the difficulties of social-scientific methodology, “When you first approach a question, you don’t even know what it is. ‘Is social media destroying democracy, yes or no?’ That’s not a good question. You can’t answer that question. So what can you ask and answer?” As the document took on a life of its own, tractable rubrics emerged—Does social media make people angrier or more affectively polarized? Does it create political echo chambers? Does it increase the probability of violence? Does it enable foreign governments to increase political dysfunction in the United States and other democracies? Haidt continued, “It’s only after you break it up into lots of answerable questions that you see where the complexity lies.”

Haidt came away with the sense, on balance, that social media was in fact pretty bad. He was disappointed, but not surprised, that Facebook’s response to his article relied on the same three studies they’ve been reciting for years. “This is something you see with breakfast cereals,” he said, noting that a cereal company “might say, ‘Did you know we have twenty-five per cent more riboflavin than the leading brand?’ They’ll point to features where the evidence is in their favor, which distracts you from the over-all fact that your cereal tastes worse and is less healthy.”

After Haidt’s piece was published, the Google Doc—“Social Media and Political Dysfunction: A Collaborative Review”—was made available to the public . Comments piled up, and a new section was added, at the end, to include a miscellany of Twitter threads and Substack essays that appeared in response to Haidt’s interpretation of the evidence. Some colleagues and kibbitzers agreed with Haidt. But others, though they might have shared his basic intuition that something in our experience of social media was amiss, drew upon the same data set to reach less definitive conclusions, or even mildly contradictory ones. Even after the initial flurry of responses to Haidt’s article disappeared into social-media memory, the document, insofar as it captured the state of the social-media debate, remained a lively artifact.

Near the end of the collaborative project’s introduction, the authors warn, “We caution readers not to simply add up the number of studies on each side and declare one side the winner.” The document runs to more than a hundred and fifty pages, and for each question there are affirmative and dissenting studies, as well as some that indicate mixed results. According to one paper, “Political expressions on social media and the online forum were found to (a) reinforce the expressers’ partisan thought process and (b) harden their pre-existing political preferences,” but, according to another, which used data collected during the 2016 election, “Over the course of the campaign, we found media use and attitudes remained relatively stable. Our results also showed that Facebook news use was related to modest over-time spiral of depolarization. Furthermore, we found that people who use Facebook for news were more likely to view both pro- and counter-attitudinal news in each wave. Our results indicated that counter-attitudinal exposure increased over time, which resulted in depolarization.” If results like these seem incompatible, a perplexed reader is given recourse to a study that says, “Our findings indicate that political polarization on social media cannot be conceptualized as a unified phenomenon, as there are significant cross-platform differences.”

Interested in echo chambers? “Our results show that the aggregation of users in homophilic clusters dominate online interactions on Facebook and Twitter,” which seems convincing—except that, as another team has it, “We do not find evidence supporting a strong characterization of ‘echo chambers’ in which the majority of people’s sources of news are mutually exclusive and from opposite poles.” By the end of the file, the vaguely patronizing top-line recommendation against simple summation begins to make more sense. A document that originated as a bulwark against confirmation bias could, as it turned out, just as easily function as a kind of generative device to support anybody’s pet conviction. The only sane response, it seemed, was simply to throw one’s hands in the air.

When I spoke to some of the researchers whose work had been included, I found a combination of broad, visceral unease with the current situation—with the banefulness of harassment and trolling; with the opacity of the platforms; with, well, the widespread presentiment that of course social media is in many ways bad—and a contrastive sense that it might not be catastrophically bad in some of the specific ways that many of us have come to take for granted as true. This was not mere contrarianism, and there was no trace of gleeful mythbusting; the issue was important enough to get right. When I told Bail that the upshot seemed to me to be that exactly nothing was unambiguously clear, he suggested that there was at least some firm ground. He sounded a bit less apocalyptic than Haidt.

“A lot of the stories out there are just wrong,” he told me. “The political echo chamber has been massively overstated. Maybe it’s three to five per cent of people who are properly in an echo chamber.” Echo chambers, as hotboxes of confirmation bias, are counterproductive for democracy. But research indicates that most of us are actually exposed to a wider range of views on social media than we are in real life, where our social networks—in the original use of the term—are rarely heterogeneous. (Haidt told me that this was an issue on which the Google Doc changed his mind; he became convinced that echo chambers probably aren’t as widespread a problem as he’d once imagined.) And too much of a focus on our intuitions about social media’s echo-chamber effect could obscure the relevant counterfactual: a conservative might abandon Twitter only to watch more Fox News. “Stepping outside your echo chamber is supposed to make you moderate, but maybe it makes you more extreme,” Bail said. The research is inchoate and ongoing, and it’s difficult to say anything on the topic with absolute certainty. But this was, in part, Bail’s point: we ought to be less sure about the particular impacts of social media.

Bail went on, “The second story is foreign misinformation.” It’s not that misinformation doesn’t exist, or that it hasn’t had indirect effects, especially when it creates perverse incentives for the mainstream media to cover stories circulating online. Haidt also draws convincingly upon the work of Renée DiResta, the research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, to sketch out a potential future in which the work of shitposting has been outsourced to artificial intelligence, further polluting the informational environment. But, at least so far, very few Americans seem to suffer from consistent exposure to fake news—“probably less than two per cent of Twitter users, maybe fewer now, and for those who were it didn’t change their opinions,” Bail said. This was probably because the people likeliest to consume such spectacles were the sort of people primed to believe them in the first place. “In fact,” he said, “echo chambers might have done something to quarantine that misinformation.”

The final story that Bail wanted to discuss was the “proverbial rabbit hole, the path to algorithmic radicalization,” by which YouTube might serve a viewer increasingly extreme videos. There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that this does happen, at least on occasion, and such anecdotes are alarming to hear. But a new working paper led by Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth, found that almost all extremist content is either consumed by subscribers to the relevant channels—a sign of actual demand rather than manipulation or preference falsification—or encountered via links from external sites. It’s easy to see why we might prefer if this were not the case: algorithmic radicalization is presumably a simpler problem to solve than the fact that there are people who deliberately seek out vile content. “These are the three stories—echo chambers, foreign influence campaigns, and radicalizing recommendation algorithms—but, when you look at the literature, they’ve all been overstated.” He thought that these findings were crucial for us to assimilate, if only to help us understand that our problems may lie beyond technocratic tinkering. He explained, “Part of my interest in getting this research out there is to demonstrate that everybody is waiting for an Elon Musk to ride in and save us with an algorithm”—or, presumably, the reverse—“and it’s just not going to happen.”

When I spoke with Nyhan, he told me much the same thing: “The most credible research is way out of line with the takes.” He noted, of extremist content and misinformation, that reliable research that “measures exposure to these things finds that the people consuming this content are small minorities who have extreme views already.” The problem with the bulk of the earlier research, Nyhan told me, is that it’s almost all correlational. “Many of these studies will find polarization on social media,” he said. “But that might just be the society we live in reflected on social media!” He hastened to add, “Not that this is untroubling, and none of this is to let these companies, which are exercising a lot of power with very little scrutiny, off the hook. But a lot of the criticisms of them are very poorly founded. . . . The expansion of Internet access coincides with fifteen other trends over time, and separating them is very difficult. The lack of good data is a huge problem insofar as it lets people project their own fears into this area.” He told me, “It’s hard to weigh in on the side of ‘We don’t know, the evidence is weak,’ because those points are always going to be drowned out in our discourse. But these arguments are systematically underprovided in the public domain.”

In his Atlantic article, Haidt leans on a working paper by two social scientists, Philipp Lorenz-Spreen and Lisa Oswald, who took on a comprehensive meta-analysis of about five hundred papers and concluded that “the large majority of reported associations between digital media use and trust appear to be detrimental for democracy.” Haidt writes, “The literature is complex—some studies show benefits, particularly in less developed democracies—but the review found that, on balance, social media amplifies political polarization; foments populism, especially right-wing populism; and is associated with the spread of misinformation.” Nyhan was less convinced that the meta-analysis supported such categorical verdicts, especially once you bracketed the kinds of correlational findings that might simply mirror social and political dynamics. He told me, “If you look at their summary of studies that allow for causal inferences—it’s very mixed.”

As for the studies Nyhan considered most methodologically sound, he pointed to a 2020 article called “The Welfare Effects of Social Media,” by Hunt Allcott, Luca Braghieri, Sarah Eichmeyer, and Matthew Gentzkow. For four weeks prior to the 2018 midterm elections, the authors randomly divided a group of volunteers into two cohorts—one that continued to use Facebook as usual, and another that was paid to deactivate their accounts for that period. They found that deactivation “(i) reduced online activity, while increasing offline activities such as watching TV alone and socializing with family and friends; (ii) reduced both factual news knowledge and political polarization; (iii) increased subjective well-being; and (iv) caused a large persistent reduction in post-experiment Facebook use.” But Gentzkow reminded me that his conclusions, including that Facebook may slightly increase polarization, had to be heavily qualified: “From other kinds of evidence, I think there’s reason to think social media is not the main driver of increasing polarization over the long haul in the United States.”

In the book “ Why We’re Polarized ,” for example, Ezra Klein invokes the work of such scholars as Lilliana Mason to argue that the roots of polarization might be found in, among other factors, the political realignment and nationalization that began in the sixties, and were then sacralized, on the right, by the rise of talk radio and cable news. These dynamics have served to flatten our political identities, weakening our ability or inclination to find compromise. Insofar as some forms of social media encourage the hardening of connections between our identities and a narrow set of opinions, we might increasingly self-select into mutually incomprehensible and hostile groups; Haidt plausibly suggests that these processes are accelerated by the coalescence of social-media tribes around figures of fearful online charisma. “Social media might be more of an amplifier of other things going on rather than a major driver independently,” Gentzkow argued. “I think it takes some gymnastics to tell a story where it’s all primarily driven by social media, especially when you’re looking at different countries, and across different groups.”

Another study, led by Nejla Asimovic and Joshua Tucker, replicated Gentzkow’s approach in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they found almost precisely the opposite results: the people who stayed on Facebook were, by the end of the study, more positively disposed to their historic out-groups. The authors’ interpretation was that ethnic groups have so little contact in Bosnia that, for some people, social media is essentially the only place where they can form positive images of one another. “To have a replication and have the signs flip like that, it’s pretty stunning,” Bail told me. “It’s a different conversation in every part of the world.”

Nyhan argued that, at least in wealthy Western countries, we might be too heavily discounting the degree to which platforms have responded to criticism: “Everyone is still operating under the view that algorithms simply maximize engagement in a short-term way” with minimal attention to potential externalities. “That might’ve been true when Zuckerberg had seven people working for him, but there are a lot of considerations that go into these rankings now.” He added, “There’s some evidence that, with reverse-chronological feeds”—streams of unwashed content, which some critics argue are less manipulative than algorithmic curation—“people get exposed to more low-quality content, so it’s another case where a very simple notion of ‘algorithms are bad’ doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. It doesn’t mean they’re good, it’s just that we don’t know.”

Bail told me that, over all, he was less confident than Haidt that the available evidence lines up clearly against the platforms. “Maybe there’s a slight majority of studies that say that social media is a net negative, at least in the West, and maybe it’s doing some good in the rest of the world.” But, he noted, “Jon will say that science has this expectation of rigor that can’t keep up with the need in the real world—that even if we don’t have the definitive study that creates the historical counterfactual that Facebook is largely responsible for polarization in the U.S., there’s still a lot pointing in that direction, and I think that’s a fair point.” He paused. “It can’t all be randomized control trials.”

Haidt comes across in conversation as searching and sincere, and, during our exchange, he paused several times to suggest that I include a quote from John Stuart Mill on the importance of good-faith debate to moral progress. In that spirit, I asked him what he thought of the argument, elaborated by some of Haidt’s critics, that the problems he described are fundamentally political, social, and economic, and that to blame social media is to search for lost keys under the streetlamp, where the light is better. He agreed that this was the steelman opponent: there were predecessors for cancel culture in de Tocqueville, and anxiety about new media that went back to the time of the printing press. “This is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis, and it’s absolutely up to the prosecution—people like me—to argue that, no, this time it’s different. But it’s a civil case! The evidential standard is not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ as in a criminal case. It’s just a preponderance of the evidence.”

The way scholars weigh the testimony is subject to their disciplinary orientations. Economists and political scientists tend to believe that you can’t even begin to talk about causal dynamics without a randomized controlled trial, whereas sociologists and psychologists are more comfortable drawing inferences on a correlational basis. Haidt believes that conditions are too dire to take the hardheaded, no-reasonable-doubt view. “The preponderance of the evidence is what we use in public health. If there’s an epidemic—when COVID started, suppose all the scientists had said, ‘No, we gotta be so certain before you do anything’? We have to think about what’s actually happening, what’s likeliest to pay off.” He continued, “We have the largest epidemic ever of teen mental health, and there is no other explanation,” he said. “It is a raging public-health epidemic, and the kids themselves say Instagram did it, and we have some evidence, so is it appropriate to say, ‘Nah, you haven’t proven it’?”

This was his attitude across the board. He argued that social media seemed to aggrandize inflammatory posts and to be correlated with a rise in violence; even if only small groups were exposed to fake news, such beliefs might still proliferate in ways that were hard to measure. “In the post-Babel era, what matters is not the average but the dynamics, the contagion, the exponential amplification,” he said. “Small things can grow very quickly, so arguments that Russian disinformation didn’t matter are like COVID arguments that people coming in from China didn’t have contact with a lot of people.” Given the transformative effects of social media, Haidt insisted, it was important to act now, even in the absence of dispositive evidence. “Academic debates play out over decades and are often never resolved, whereas the social-media environment changes year by year,” he said. “We don’t have the luxury of waiting around five or ten years for literature reviews.”

Haidt could be accused of question-begging—of assuming the existence of a crisis that the research might or might not ultimately underwrite. Still, the gap between the two sides in this case might not be quite as wide as Haidt thinks. Skeptics of his strongest claims are not saying that there’s no there there. Just because the average YouTube user is unlikely to be led to Stormfront videos, Nyhan told me, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry that some people are watching Stormfront videos; just because echo chambers and foreign misinformation seem to have had effects only at the margins, Gentzkow said, doesn’t mean they’re entirely irrelevant. “There are many questions here where the thing we as researchers are interested in is how social media affects the average person,” Gentzkow told me. “There’s a different set of questions where all you need is a small number of people to change—questions about ethnic violence in Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, people on YouTube mobilized to do mass shootings. Much of the evidence broadly makes me skeptical that the average effects are as big as the public discussion thinks they are, but I also think there are cases where a small number of people with very extreme views are able to find each other and connect and act.” He added, “That’s where many of the things I’d be most concerned about lie.”

The same might be said about any phenomenon where the base rate is very low but the stakes are very high, such as teen suicide. “It’s another case where those rare edge cases in terms of total social harm may be enormous. You don’t need many teen-age kids to decide to kill themselves or have serious mental-health outcomes in order for the social harm to be really big.” He added, “Almost none of this work is able to get at those edge-case effects, and we have to be careful that if we do establish that the average effect of something is zero, or small, that it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be worried about it—because we might be missing those extremes.” Jaime Settle, a scholar of political behavior at the College of William & Mary and the author of the book “ Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America ,” noted that Haidt is “farther along the spectrum of what most academics who study this stuff are going to say we have strong evidence for.” But she understood his impulse: “We do have serious problems, and I’m glad Jon wrote the piece, and down the road I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a fuller handle on the role of social media in all of this—there are definitely ways in which social media has changed our politics for the worse.”

It’s tempting to sidestep the question of diagnosis entirely, and to evaluate Haidt’s essay not on the basis of predictive accuracy—whether social media will lead to the destruction of American democracy—but as a set of proposals for what we might do better. If he is wrong, how much damage are his prescriptions likely to do? Haidt, to his great credit, does not indulge in any wishful thinking, and if his diagnosis is largely technological his prescriptions are sociopolitical. Two of his three major suggestions seem useful and have nothing to do with social media: he thinks that we should end closed primaries and that children should be given wide latitude for unsupervised play. His recommendations for social-media reform are, for the most part, uncontroversial: he believes that preteens shouldn’t be on Instagram and that platforms should share their data with outside researchers—proposals that are both likely to be beneficial and not very costly.

It remains possible, however, that the true costs of social-media anxieties are harder to tabulate. Gentzkow told me that, for the period between 2016 and 2020, the direct effects of misinformation were difficult to discern. “But it might have had a much larger effect because we got so worried about it—a broader impact on trust,” he said. “Even if not that many people were exposed, the narrative that the world is full of fake news, and you can’t trust anything, and other people are being misled about it—well, that might have had a bigger impact than the content itself.” Nyhan had a similar reaction. “There are genuine questions that are really important, but there’s a kind of opportunity cost that is missed here. There’s so much focus on sweeping claims that aren’t actionable, or unfounded claims we can contradict with data, that are crowding out the harms we can demonstrate, and the things we can test, that could make social media better.” He added, “We’re years into this, and we’re still having an uninformed conversation about social media. It’s totally wild.”

New Yorker Favorites

The killer who got into Harvard .

A thief who stole only silver .

The light of the world’s first nuclear bomb .

How Steve Martin learned what’s funny .

Growing up as the son of the Cowardly Lion .

Amelia Earhart’s last flight .

Fiction by Milan Kundera: “ The Unbearable Lightness of Being .”

Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive the best stories from The New Yorker .

social media is dangerous essay

By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement and Privacy Policy & Cookie Statement . This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A hand holding a phone with social media icons coming out of it.

Too much social media can be harmful, but it’s not addictive like drugs

social media is dangerous essay

Professor of Addictions and Health Psychology, University of South Wales

social media is dangerous essay

Senior Lecturer in Psychology of Relationships, University of South Wales

Disclosure statement

Bev John has received funding from European Social Funds/Welsh Government, Alcohol Concern (now Alcohol Change), Research Councils and the personal research budgets of a number of Welsh Senedd members. She is an invited observer of the Cross-Party Group on Problem Gambling at the Welsh Parliament and sits on the “Beat the Odds” steering group that is run by Cais Ltd.

Martin Graff does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

University of South Wales provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

View all partners

If you spend hours of the day on your phone checking social media, you’re not unusual. The average internet user spends two hours a day on various social media sites. But does your habit of checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok every few hours make you a social media “addict”?

The term “social media addiction” is being increasingly used to describe people who spend a lot of time on these websites and apps. Doing so can be harmful to people in a variety of ways – causing low self esteem, bad sleep and increasing stress .

The main focus when considering addiction to substances tends to be on three key elements: compulsion (or loss of control), tolerance (needing to increase amount to achieve the same effect) and withdrawal (unpleasant side effects when use stops). Other factors to consider relate to craving, preoccupation and continuing use despite it causing obvious problems. It’s easy to see how these factors apply to drugs, but what about shopping, gambling or, indeed, social media use?

Increasing interest in these and other behavioural “addictions” – like gaming, sex or the internet – has resulted in broadening definitions of what addiction is. Psychologists talk of excessive appetites and powerful motivational drives to engage in particular behaviours that have the power to do considerable unintended harm .

As researchers in social media and addiction, we have spent the last 25 years understanding different kinds of addiction. Our research tells us that social media addiction is not the same as an addiction to substances, like alcohol and other drugs.

Social media use

Too much social media can certainly be damaging. One major feature of social media is it allows users some control over how they present themselves to others. People can edit their online appearance and sometimes present themselves inaccurately while seeking validation from others.

This can cause all kinds of harm. In a study in 2019, we found when female users looked at the platforms for around one and a half hours per day, this was related to an increased desire to be thin , a heightened awareness of how they think other people judge them and motivation to exercise for the purposes of losing weight.

Read more: Why is celebrity abuse on Twitter so bad? It might be a problem with our empathy

And in 2016, we investigated the ways people seek validation on social media. We looked at how often people manipulate posts to increase the number of likes received, use social media to boost spirits or blindly post about issues with which they did not necessarily agree.

We found when this kind of online behaviour increased, self-esteem decreased. But our findings didn’t necessarily show a compulsion to use social media – something key in making it an addiction. Other social factors, such as fear of missing out and narcissistic personality traits, may drive the need to use social media to an unhealthy degree.

Social media addiction

In 2020, we undertook a study into harmful gambling that might help answer the question of whether social media addiction is real.

We found that rapid technological developments in the ease and speed of access of phone and tablet apps are leading to increased levels of gambling harm. Similar psychological processes may be at work on social media platforms, where need for validation, craving and checking likes is amplified.

Behavioural explanations for how addictions develop emphasise the power of reinforcement. Gambling products often use the most powerful form of reinforcement: random pay outs . This, again, is potentially similar to the way users receive validation in the form of “likes” on social media.

A group of five people taking a selfie.

There are some who might argue that chronic overuse of social media can be seen as an addiction, but it not is currently recognised as such by the American Psychiatric Association .

There are important differences between excessive social media use and substances in terms of addiction. For example, withdrawal from the latter is often physically unpleasant and sometimes dangerous without medical supervision. Users often suffer stigma, which can be a barrier to seeking help. In comparison, it hasn’t yet been established that there are physical withdrawal effects when people stop using social media.

Considering social media use more as a continuum of possible harm might allow more scope for appropriately targeted messages that could prevent problems developing in the first place.

There are clearly elements of social media use that resonate with certain characterisations of addiction, such as psychological notions of excessive appetites or powerful motivations, and the built-in platform mechanisms of reinforcement through random affirmations or “likes”. It’s also clear that this can be harmful in terms of negative impact on some users’ self-esteem and body image.

But despite these factors, the most useful question might be how to create a healthy balance of interaction in our virtual and real worlds.

It’s worth remembering that behavioural addictions, like those to substances, often occur alongside other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, suggesting that vulnerability may be multifaceted. This may also be true of excessive social media use.

  • Social media
  • Digital addiction

social media is dangerous essay

Graphic Designer

social media is dangerous essay

Director, Library Services (University Librarian)

social media is dangerous essay

Senior Animal Ethics Officer

social media is dangerous essay

Professor of Biosecurity Research

social media is dangerous essay

Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Cara Goodwin, Ph.D.

Is Social Media Dangerous for Teenagers?

The research behind social media and teenagers and how to teach responsible use..

Posted October 14, 2021 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster

  • Research finds an association between social media use and symptoms of anxiety/depression and body image issues in teenagers.
  • Yet, research also suggests that social media provides some important benefits to teenagers.
  • Parents should be less worried about whether their children use social media and more concerned about how their children use social media.
  • Parents can teach their children to responsibly use social media in a way that reduces their risk of negative outcomes.

In recent news, a whistleblower from Facebook reported on some findings related to social media and teenagers . While this report is concerning, the data she reported on involved small sample sizes and flawed research methods (self-report, non-random sampling, etc.). The higher-quality, peer-reviewed research we have on this topic is decidedly more nuanced and complex.

In line with this report, a large body of research does find associations between social media use and increased symptoms of anxiety and depression and greater risk for body dissatisfaction and disordered eating among teenage girls. These associations are particularly apparent for apps involving primarily images and videos, such as Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. These effects are more substantial when these apps are used for 2 hours or more per day. Simply looking at attractive pictures of celebrities or even peers on social media has an immediate impact on mood and body image on female undergraduates.

Because people present an “idealized image” of themselves on social media, users then compare it to their own real or perceived body image and are likely to feel more negatively about their body image. Yet, the negative impact may also extend to posting your image or video content. A recent randomized controlled trial found that posting a selfie (whether filtered or not) increases anxiety and lower self-confidence in young women.

However, social media isn’t all negative for teenagers (or for any of us). Research finds that social media provides some essential benefits to teenagers, including being a platform for emotional support and information on mental health and providing social support for marginalized teens such as transgender youth. Research also finds that social media use is associated with decreased feelings of loneliness . Specifically, 43% of young people report that they get support from social media and 45% of young people report that they feel less alone due to social media. In addition, looking at body-positive images on social media may improve mood and body image.

It is also very important to note that it remains unclear whether social media increases mental health concerns or mental health issues increase the use of social media. More recent research provides some evidence for the latter. Specifically, a recent study found that increased social media use did not predict increased symptoms of depression, but increased symptoms of depression did predict increased social media use among both teenagers and undergraduate students.

In summary, it is clear from the research that you should be less worried about whether your teenager uses social media and more worried about how your teenager uses social media. The following evidence-based strategies may help you to teach your teenager to use social media responsibly and in a way that reduces the risk of negative outcomes.

  • Explain to your teenagers that social media is the “highlight reel” and show them pictures of real people before and after applying filters or particular lighting or angles. Research finds that this type of “social media literacy” reduces the risk for body image issues and disordered eating.
  • Because increased time on social media is associated with increased mental health and body image concerns, limit your child’s time on social media. Research finds that two hours or more per day on social media are associated with more negative outcomes. You can set these limits through a parental control app, a setting on your child’s smartphone, or clear family rules (which are generated together and agreed upon as a family).
  • Ask your child to honestly assess how they feel before and after scrolling social media. Go through who your child is following with them and ask them how each account makes them feel. Then go through your list with your child and cut any accounts that make you feel worse.
  • Do not allow your child to be on social media if they are under 13. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act prohibits children under 13 from being on social media apps.
  • Create family rules around phones and other devices that everyone in the family must follow (for example, no phones at the dinner table or in the bedroom). The American Academy of Pediatrics has a tool to create a Family Media Plan on their website. This tool can help you generate these rules and then print them up so family members can refer to them as needed.
  • Model appropriate use of your phone and social media. If you struggle with your use of social media from time to time, explain this struggle to your child and the strategies you use to overcome it effectively.
  • Have ongoing conversations with your teenager about how to use social media safely. Turn on all possible privacy settings and emphasize the importance of not sharing personal information on social media or having any contacts online that you do not know personally.

Sampasa-Kanyinga, H., & Lewis, R. F. (2015). Frequent use of social networking sites is associated with poor psychological functioning among children and adolescents. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18(7), 380-385.

Rideout, V., & Fox, S. (2018). Digital health practices, social media use, and mental well-being among teens and young adults in the US.

Pretorius, K., Johnson, K. E., & Rew, L. (2019). An integrative review: understanding parental use of social media to influence infant and child health. Maternal and child health journal, 23(10), 1360-1370.

Odgers, C. L., & Jensen, M. R. (2020). Annual Research Review: Adolescent mental health in the digital age: facts, fears, and future directions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 61(3), 336-348.

Mills, J. S., Musto, S., Williams, L., & Tiggemann, M. (2018). “Selfie” harm: Effects on mood and body image in young women. Body image, 27, 86-92.

Brown, Z., & Tiggemann, M. (2016). Attractive celebrity and peer images on Instagram: Effect on women's mood and body image. Body image, 19, 37-43.

Marengo, D., Longobardi, C., Fabris, M. A., & Settanni, M. (2018). Highly-visual social media and internalizing symptoms in adolescence: The mediating role of body image concerns. Computers in Human Behavior, 82, 63-69.

Meier, E. P., & Gray, J. (2014). Facebook photo activity associated with body image disturbance in adolescent girls. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(4), 199-206.

Tiggemann, M., & Miller, J. (2010). The Internet and adolescent girls’ weight satisfaction and drive for thinness. Sex roles, 63(1-2), 79-90.

Holland, G., & Tiggemann, M. (2016). A systematic review of the impact of the use of social networking sites on body image and disordered eating outcomes. Body image, 17, 100-110.

Magis‐Weinberg, L., Gys, C. L., Berger, E. L., Domoff, S. E., & Dahl, R. E. (2021). Positive and negative online experiences and loneliness in Peruvian adolescents during the COVID‐19 lockdown. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 31(3), 717-733.

Cohen, R., Irwin, L., Newton-John, T., & Slater, A. (2019). # bodypositivity: A content analysis of body positive accounts on Instagram. Body image, 29, 47-57.

Heffer, T., Good, M., Daly, O., MacDonell, E., & Willoughby, T. (2019). The longitudinal association between social-media use and depressive symptoms among adolescents and young adults: An empirical reply to Twenge et al.(2018). Clinical Psychological Science, 7(3), 462-470.

Cara Goodwin, Ph.D.

Cara Goodwin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in translating scientific research into information that is useful, accurate, and relevant for parents.

social media is dangerous essay

  • Child Development

social media is dangerous essay

  • Find a Therapist
  • Find a Treatment Center
  • Find a Psychiatrist
  • Find a Support Group
  • Find Teletherapy
  • United States
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Portland, OR
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC
  • Asperger's
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Chronic Pain
  • Eating Disorders
  • Passive Aggression
  • Personality
  • Goal Setting
  • Positive Psychology
  • Stopping Smoking
  • Low Sexual Desire
  • Relationships
  • Therapy Center NEW
  • Diagnosis Dictionary
  • Types of Therapy

July 2023 magazine cover

You just met The One or maybe a shady character. Is your impression correct? It's a mysterious package, delivered by subtle sensory clues.

  • Coronavirus Disease 2019
  • Affective Forecasting
  • Neuroscience

Yes, Social Media Really Is Undermining Democracy

Despite what Meta has to say.

An American flag being punctured by computer cursors

W ithin the past 15 years, social media has insinuated itself into American life more deeply than food-delivery apps into our diets and microplastics into our bloodstreams. Look at stories about conflict, and it’s often lurking in the background. Recent articles on the rising dysfunction within progressive organizations point to the role of Twitter, Slack, and other platforms in prompting “endless and sprawling internal microbattles,” as The Intercept ’s Ryan Grim put it, referring to the ACLU. At a far higher level of conflict, the congressional hearings about the January 6 insurrection show us how Donald Trump’s tweets summoned the mob to Washington and aimed it at the vice president. Far-right groups then used a variety of platforms to coordinate and carry out the attack.

Social media has changed life in America in a thousand ways, and nearly two out of three Americans now believe that these changes are for the worse. But academic researchers have not yet reached a consensus that social media is harmful. That’s been a boon to social-media companies such as Meta, which argues, as did tobacco companies, that the science is not “ settled .”

The lack of consensus leaves open the possibility that social media may not be very harmful. Perhaps we’ve fallen prey to yet another moral panic about a new technology and, as with television, we’ll worry about it less after a few decades of conflicting studies. A different possibility is that social media is quite harmful but is changing too quickly for social scientists to capture its effects. The research community is built on a quasi-moral norm of skepticism: We begin by assuming the null hypothesis (in this case, that social media is not harmful), and we require researchers to show strong, statistically significant evidence in order to publish their findings. This takes time—a couple of years, typically, to conduct and publish a study; five or more years before review papers and meta-analyses come out; sometimes decades before scholars reach agreement. Social-media platforms, meanwhile, can change dramatically in just a few years .

So even if social media really did begin to undermine democracy (and institutional trust and teen mental health ) in the early 2010s, we should not expect social science to “settle” the matter until the 2030s. By then, the effects of social media will be radically different, and the harms done in earlier decades may be irreversible.

Let me back up. This spring, The Atlantic published my essay “ Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid ,” in which I argued that the best way to understand the chaos and fragmentation of American society is to see ourselves as citizens of Babel in the days after God rendered them unable to understand one another.

I showed how a few small changes to the architecture of social-media platforms, implemented from 2009 to 2012, increased the virality of posts on those platforms, which then changed the nature of social relationships. People could spread rumors and half-truths more quickly, and they could more readily sort themselves into homogenous tribes. Even more important, in my view, was that social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook could now be used more easily by anyone to attack anyone. It was as if the platforms had passed out a billion little dart guns, and although most users didn’t want to shoot anyone, three kinds of people began darting others with abandon: the far right, the far left, and trolls.

Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell: The dark psychology of social networks

All of these groups were suddenly given the power to dominate conversations and intimidate dissenters into silence. A fourth group—Russian agents––also got a boost, though they didn’t need to attack people directly. Their long-running project, which ramped up online in 2013, was to fabricate, exaggerate, or simply promote stories that would increase Americans’ hatred of one another and distrust of their institutions.

The essay proved to be surprisingly uncontroversial—or, at least, hardly anyone attacked me on social media. But a few responses were published, including one from Meta (formerly Facebook), which pointed to studies it said contradicted my argument. There was also an essay in The New Yorker by Gideon Lewis-Kraus, who interviewed me and other scholars who study politics and social media. He argued that social media might well be harmful to democracies, but the research literature is too muddy and contradictory to support firm conclusions.

So was my diagnosis correct, or are concerns about social media overblown? It’s a crucial question for the future of our society. As I argued in my essay, critics make us smarter. I’m grateful, therefore, to Meta and the researchers interviewed by Lewis-Kraus for helping me sharpen and extend my argument in three ways.

Are Democracies Becoming More Polarized and Less Healthy?

My essay laid out a wide array of harms that social media has inflicted on society. Political polarization is just one of them, but it is central to the story of rising democratic dysfunction.

Meta questioned whether social media should be blamed for increased polarization. In response to my essay, Meta’s head of research, Pratiti Raychoudhury, pointed to a study by Levi Boxell, Matthew Gentzkow, and Jesse Shapiro that looked at trends in 12 countries and found, she said, “that in some countries polarization was on the rise before Facebook even existed, and in others it has been decreasing while internet and Facebook use increased.” In a recent interview with the podcaster Lex Fridman , Mark Zuckerberg cited this same study in support of a more audacious claim: “Most of the academic studies that I’ve seen actually show that social-media use is correlated with lower polarization.”

Does that study really let social media off the hook? It plotted political polarization based on survey responses in 12 countries, most with data stretching back to the 1970s, and then drew straight lines that best fit the data points over several decades. It’s true that, while some lines sloped upward (meaning that polarization increased across the period as a whole), others sloped downward. But my argument wasn’t about the past 50 years. It was about a phase change that happened in the early 2010s , after Facebook and Twitter changed their architecture to enable hyper-virality.

I emailed Gentzkow to ask whether he could put a “hinge” in the graphs in the early 2010s, to see if the trends in polarization changed direction or accelerated in the past decade. He replied that there was not enough data after 2010 to make such an analysis reliable. He also noted that Meta’s response essay had failed to cite a 2020 article in which he and three colleagues found that randomly assigning participants to deactivate Facebook for the four weeks before the 2018 U.S. midterm elections reduced polarization.

Adrienne LaFrance: ‘History will not judge us kindly’

Meta’s response motivated me to look for additional publications to evaluate what had happened to democracies in the 2010s. I discovered four. One of them found no overall trend in polarization, but like the study by Boxell, Gentzkow, and Shapiro, it had few data points after 2015. The other three had data through 2020, and all three reported substantial increases in polarization and/or declines in the number or quality of democracies around the world.

One of them, a 2022 report from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, found that “liberal democracies peaked in 2012 with 42 countries and are now down to the lowest levels in over 25 years.” It summarized the transformations of global democracy over the past 10 years in stark terms:

Just ten years ago the world looked very different from today. In 2011, there were more countries improving than declining on every aspect of democracy. By 2021 the world has been turned on its head: there are more countries declining than advancing on nearly all democratic aspects captured by V-Dem measures.

The report also notes that “toxic polarization”—signaled by declining “respect for counter-arguments and associated aspects of the deliberative component of democracy”—grew more severe in at least 32 countries.

A paper published one week after my Atlantic essay, by Yunus E. Orhan, found a global spike in democratic “backsliding” since 2008, and linked it to affective polarization, or animosity toward the other side. When affective polarization is high, partisans tolerate antidemocratic behavior by politicians on their own side––such as the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

And finally, the Economist Intelligence Unit reported a global decline in various democratic measures starting after 2015, according to its Democracy Index.

These three studies cannot prove that social media caused the global decline, but—contra Meta and Zuckerberg—they show a global trend toward polarization in the previous decade, the one in which the world embraced social media.

Has Social Media Created Harmful Echo Chambers?

So why did democracies weaken in the 2010s? How might social media have made them more fragmented and less stable? One popular argument contends that social media sorts users into echo chambers––closed communities of like-minded people. Lack of contact with people who hold different viewpoints allows a sort of tribal groupthink to take hold, reducing the quality of everyone’s thinking and the prospects for compromise that are essential in a democratic system.

According to Meta, however, “More and more research discredits the idea that social media algorithms create an echo chamber.” It points to two sources to back up that claim, but many studies show evidence that social media does in fact create echo chambers. Because conflicting studies are common in social-science research, I created a “ collaborative review ” document last year with Chris Bail, a sociologist at Duke University who studies social media. It’s a public Google doc in which we organize the abstracts of all the studies we can find about social media’s impact on democracy, and then we invite other experts to add studies, comments, and criticisms. We cover research on seven different questions, including whether social media promotes echo chambers. After spending time in the document, Lewis-Kraus wrote in The New Yorker : “The upshot seemed to me to be that exactly nothing was unambiguously clear.”

He is certainly right that nothing is unambiguous. But as I have learned from curating three such documents , researchers often reach opposing conclusions because they have “operationalized” the question differently. That is, they have chosen different ways to turn an abstract question (about the prevalence of echo chambers, say) into something concrete and measurable. For example, researchers who choose to measure echo chambers by looking at the diversity of people’s news consumption typically find little evidence that they exist at all. Even partisans end up being exposed to news stories and videos from the other side. Both of the sources that Raychoudhury cited in her defense of Meta mention this idea.

Derek Thompson: Social media is attention alcohol

But researchers who measure echo chambers by looking at social relationships and networks usually find evidence of “homophily”—that is, people tend to engage with others who are similar to themselves. One study of politically engaged Twitter users, for example, found that they “are disproportionately exposed to like-minded information and that information reaches like-minded users more quickly.” So should we throw up our hands and say that the findings are irreconcilable? No, we should integrate them, as the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci did in a 2018 essay . Coming across contrary viewpoints on social media, she wrote, is “not like reading them in a newspaper while sitting alone.” Rather, she said, “it’s like hearing them from the opposing team while sitting with our fellow fans in a football stadium … We bond with our team by yelling at the fans of the other one.” Mere exposure to different sources of news doesn’t automatically break open echo chambers; in fact, it can reinforce them.

These closely bonded groupings can have profound political ramifications, as a couple of my critics in the New Yorker article acknowledged. A major feature of the post-Babel world is that the extremes are now far louder and more influential than before. They may also become more violent. Recent research by Morteza Dehghani and his colleagues at the University of Southern California shows that people are more willing to commit violence when they are immersed in a community they perceive to be morally homogeneous.

This finding seems to be borne out by a statement from the 18-year-old man who recently killed 10 Black Americans at a supermarket in Buffalo. In the Q&A portion of the manifesto attributed to him, he wrote:

Where did you get your current beliefs? Mostly from the internet. There was little to no influence on my personal beliefs by people I met in person.

The killer goes on to claim that he had read information “from all ideologies,” but I find it unlikely that he consumed a balanced informational diet, or, more important, that he hung out online with ideologically diverse users. The fact that he livestreamed his shooting tells us he assumed that his community shared his warped worldview. He could not have found such an extreme yet homogeneous group in his small town 200 miles from Buffalo. But thanks to social media, he found an international fellowship of extreme racists who jointly worshipped past mass murderers and from whom he copied sections of his manifesto.

Is Social Media the Primary Villain in This Story?

In her response to my essay, Raychoudhury did not deny that Meta bore any blame. Rather, her defense was two-pronged, arguing that the research is not yet definitive, and that, in any case, we should be focusing on mainstream media as the primary cause of harm.

Raychoudhury pointed to a study on the role of cable TV and mainstream media as major drivers of partisanship. She is correct to do so: The American culture war has roots going back to the turmoil of the 1960s, which activated evangelicals and other conservatives in the ’70s. Social media (which arrived around 2004 and became truly pernicious, I argue, only after 2009) is indeed a more recent player in this phenomenon.

In my essay, I included a paragraph on this backstory, noting the role of Fox News and the radicalizing Republican Party of the ’90s, but I should have said more. The story of polarization is complex, and political scientists cite a variety of contributing factors , including the growing politicization of the urban-rural divide; rising immigration; the increasing power of big and very partisan donors; the loss of a common enemy when the Soviet Union collapsed; and the loss of the “Greatest Generation,” which had an ethos of service forged in the crisis of the Second World War. And although polarization rose rapidly in the 2010s, the rise began in the ’90s, so I cannot pin the majority of the rise on social media.

But my essay wasn’t primarily about ordinary polarization. I was trying to explain a new dynamic that emerged in the 2010s: the fear of one another , even—and perhaps especially––within groups that share political or cultural affinities. This fear has created a whole new set of social and political problems.

The loss of a common enemy and those other trends with roots in the 20th century can help explain America’s ever nastier cross-party relationships, but they can’t explain why so many college students and professors suddenly began to express more fear, and engage in more self-censorship, around 2015. These mostly left-leaning people weren’t worried about the “other side”; they were afraid of a small number of students who were further to the left, and who enthusiastically hunted for verbal transgressions and used social media to publicly shame offenders.

A few years later, that same fearful dynamic spread to newsrooms , companies , nonprofit organizations , and many other parts of society . The culture war had been running for two or three decades by then, but it changed in the mid-2010s when ordinary people with little to no public profile suddenly became the targets of social-media mobs. Consider the famous 2013 case of Justine Sacco , who tweeted an insensitive joke about her trip to South Africa just before boarding her flight in London and became an international villain by the time she landed in Cape Town. She was fired the next day. Or consider the the far right’s penchant for using social media to publicize the names and photographs of largely unknown local election officials, health officials, and school-board members who refuse to bow to political pressure, and who are then subjected to waves of vitriol, including threats of violence to themselves and their children, simply for doing their jobs. These phenomena, now common to the culture, could not have happened before the advent of hyper-viral social media in 2009.

Matthew Hindman, Nathaniel Lubin, and Trevor Davis: Facebook has a superuser-supremacy problem

This fear of getting shamed, reported, doxxed, fired, or physically attacked is responsible for the self-censorship and silencing of dissent that were the main focus of my essay. When dissent within any group or institution is stifled, the group will become less perceptive, nimble, and effective over time.

Social media may not be the primary cause of polarization, but it is an important cause, and one we can do something about. I believe it is also the primary cause of the epidemic of structural stupidity, as I called it, that has recently afflicted many of America’s key institutions.

What Can We Do to Make Things Better?

My essay presented a series of structural solutions that would allow us to repair some of the damage that social media has caused to our key democratic and epistemic institutions. I proposed three imperatives: (1) harden democratic institutions so that they can withstand chronic anger and mistrust, (2) reform social media so that it becomes less socially corrosive, and (3) better prepare the next generation for democratic citizenship in this new age.

I believe that we should begin implementing these reforms now, even if the science is not yet “settled.” Beyond a reasonable doubt is the appropriate standard of evidence for reviewers guarding admission to a scientific journal, or for jurors establishing guilt in a criminal trial. It is too high a bar for questions about public health or threats to the body politic. A more appropriate standard is the one used in civil trials: the preponderance of evidence. Is social media probably damaging American democracy via at least one of the seven pathways analyzed in our collaborative-review document , or probably not ? I urge readers to examine the document themselves. I also urge the social-science community to find quicker ways to study potential threats such as social media, where platforms and their effects change rapidly. Our motto should be “Move fast and test things.” Collaborative-review documents are one way to speed up the process by which scholars find and respond to one another’s work.

Beyond these structural solutions, I considered adding a short section to the article on what each of us can do as individuals, but it sounded a bit too preachy, so I cut it. I now regret that decision. I should have noted that all of us, as individuals, can be part of the solution by choosing to act with courage, moderation, and compassion. It takes a great deal of resolve to speak publicly or stand your ground when a barrage of snide, disparaging, and otherwise hostile comments is coming at you and nobody rises to your defense (out of fear of getting attacked themselves).

Read: How to fix Twitter—and all of social media

Fortunately, social media does not usually reflect real life, something that more people are beginning to understand. A few years ago, I heard an insight from an older business executive. He noted that before social media, if he received a dozen angry letters or emails from customers, they spurred him to action because he assumed that there must be a thousand other disgruntled customers who didn’t bother to write. But now, if a thousand people like an angry tweet or Facebook post about his company, he assumes that there must be a dozen people who are really upset.

Seeing that social-media outrage is transient and performative should make it easier to withstand, whether you are the president of a university or a parent speaking at a school-board meeting. We can all do more to offer honest dissent and support the dissenters within institutions that have become structurally stupid. We can all get better at listening with an open mind and speaking in order to engage another human being rather than impress an audience. Teaching these skills to our children and our students is crucial, because they are the generation who will have to reinvent deliberative democracy and Tocqueville’s “art of association” for the digital age.

We must act with compassion too. The fear and cruelty of the post-Babel era are a result of its tendency to reward public displays of aggression. Social media has put us all in the middle of a Roman coliseum, and many in the audience want to see conflict and blood. But once we realize that we are the gladiators—tricked into combat so that we might generate “content,” “engagement,” and revenue—we can refuse to fight. We can be more understanding toward our fellow citizens, seeing that we are all being driven mad by companies that use largely the same set of psychological tricks. We can forswear public conflict and use social media to serve our own purposes, which for most people will mean more private communication and fewer public performances.

The post-Babel world will not be rebuilt by today’s technology companies. That work will be left to citizens who understand the forces that brought us to the verge of self-destruction, and who develop the new habits, virtues, technologies, and shared narratives that will allow us to reap the benefits of living and working together in peace.

Home — Essay Samples — Sociology — Social Media — The Importance of Staying Safe on Social Media

social media is dangerous essay

The Importance of Staying Safe on Social Media

  • Categories: Cyber Security Internet Privacy Social Media

About this sample


Downloads: 68

Works Cited:

  • Bridges, T. J. (2014). Aquinas on natural law. Routledge.
  • Cessario, R. J. (2001). The moral philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Catholic University of America Press.
  • Garcia, J. L. A. (1996). Natural law and practical rationality. Cambridge University Press.
  • Kreeft, P. (2018). Summa of the Summa. Ignatius Press.
  • Lisska, A. J. (1996). Aquinas's theory of natural law: An analytic reconstruction. Oxford University Press.
  • Murphy, M. C. (2001). Natural law and practical rationality in Aquinas. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 75(1), 1-16.
  • Pieper, J. (1997). The four cardinal virtues. University of Notre Dame Press.
  • Regan, R. J. (2002). The educational theory of St. Thomas Aquinas. Ave Maria Press.
  • Spiazzi, R. (1965). The moral philosophy of St. Thomas: Ethical theory and moral practice. Newman Press.
  • Von Hildebrand, D. (2005). The nature of love. Sophia Institute Press.

Image of Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Let us write you an essay from scratch

  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours

Get high-quality help

social media is dangerous essay

Dr. Heisenberg

Verified writer

  • Expert in: Information Science and Technology Law, Crime & Punishment Sociology


+ 120 experts online

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy . We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

No need to pay just yet!

Related Essays

3 pages / 1539 words

3 pages / 1269 words

4 pages / 1683 words

1 pages / 539 words

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled

Related Essays on Social Media

Communication is an essential part of human life when it comes to connecting and advancing our society. Since the beginning of time, different communication forms were established, such as sign language, body language, visual [...]

Rabin, Ruhani. 'Social Media - Impact on Society.' International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, vol. 2, no. 5, May 2012.Subrahmanyam, K., and Smahel, D. 'Digital Youth: The Role of Media in Development.' [...]

Shannon, C. E., & Weaver, W. (1949). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. University of Illinois Press.Lasswell, H. D. (1948). The Structure and Function of Communication in Society. In L. Bryson (Ed.), The Communication of [...]

The impact of social media on society is the theme of this essay. To begin, social networking websites provide a platform where people can share their ideas and experiences. It provides an opportunity for the people around the [...]

News media discusses many different topics. From political to economic they all include things that happen in our world today. Political news today has many fallacies. Fallacies are things that are a mistaken belief and they [...]

In the era of science and technology, it would be quite unusual to find anyone who does not have a social media account. Based on a research carried out by the Pew Research Center in 2013, forty-two percent of the internet users [...]

Related Topics

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement . We will occasionally send you account related emails.

Where do you want us to send this sample?

By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.

Be careful. This essay is not unique

This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

Download this Sample

Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts

Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.

Please check your inbox.

We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!

Get Your Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

We use cookies to personalyze your web-site experience. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy .

We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!

  • Instructions Followed To The Letter
  • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
  • Unique And Plagiarism Free

social media is dangerous essay

Appointments at Mayo Clinic

  • Tween and teen health

Teens and social media use: What's the impact?

Social media is a big part of many teens' lives. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey of nearly 750 13- to 17-year-olds found that 45% are online almost constantly and 97% use a social media platform, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

But what impact does social media use have on teens?

Social media benefits

Social media allows teens to create online identities, communicate with others and build social networks. These networks can provide teens with valuable support, especially helping those who experience exclusion or have disabilities or chronic illnesses.

Teens also use social media for entertainment and self-expression. And the platforms can expose teens to current events, allow them to interact across geographic barriers and teach them about a variety of subjects, including healthy behaviors. Social media that's humorous or distracting or provides a meaningful connection to peers and a wide social network might even help teens avoid depression.

Social media harms

However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure.

The risks might be related to how much social media teens use. A 2019 study of more than 6,500 12- to 15-year-olds in the U.S. found that those who spent more than three hours a day using social media might be at heightened risk for mental health problems. Another 2019 study of more than 12,000 13- to 16-year-olds in England found that using social media more than three times a day predicted poor mental health and well-being in teens.

Other studies also have observed links between high levels of social media use and depression or anxiety symptoms. A 2016 study of more than 450 teens found that greater social media use, nighttime social media use and emotional investment in social media — such as feeling upset when prevented from logging on — were each linked with worse sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and depression.

How teens use social media also might determine its impact. A 2015 study found that social comparison and feedback seeking by teens using social media and cellphones was linked with depressive symptoms. In addition, a small 2013 study found that older adolescents who used social media passively, such as by just viewing others' photos, reported declines in life satisfaction. Those who used social media to interact with others or post their own content didn't experience these declines.

And an older study on the impact of social media on undergraduate college students showed that the longer they used Facebook, the stronger was their belief that others were happier than they were. But the more time the students spent going out with their friends, the less they felt this way.

Because of teens' impulsive natures, experts suggest that teens who post content on social media are at risk of sharing intimate photos or highly personal stories. This can result in teens being bullied, harassed or even blackmailed. Teens often create posts without considering these consequences or privacy concerns.

Protecting your teen

There are steps you can take to encourage responsible use of social media and limit some of its negative effects. Consider these tips:

  • Set reasonable limits. Talk to your teen about how to avoid letting social media interfere with his or her activities, sleep, meals or homework. Encourage a bedtime routine that avoids electronic media use, and keep cellphones and tablets out of teens' bedrooms. Set an example by following these rules yourself.
  • Monitor your teen's accounts. Let your teen know that you'll be regularly checking his or her social media accounts. You might aim to do so once a week or more. Make sure you follow through.
  • Explain what's not OK. Discourage your teen from gossiping, spreading rumors, bullying or damaging someone's reputation — online or otherwise. Talk to your teen about what is appropriate and safe to share on social media.
  • Encourage face-to-face contact with friends. This is particularly important for teens vulnerable to social anxiety disorder.
  • Talk about social media. Talk about your own social media habits. Ask your teen how he or she is using social media and how it makes him or her feel. Remind your teen that social media is full of unrealistic images.

If you think your teen is experiencing signs or symptoms of anxiety or depression related to social media use, talk to your child's health care provider.

There is a problem with information submitted for this request. Review/update the information highlighted below and resubmit the form.

Children’s health information and parenting tips to your inbox.

Sign-up to get Mayo Clinic’s trusted health content sent to your email. Receive a bonus guide on ways to manage your child’s health just for subscribing. Click here for an email preview.

Error Email field is required

Error Include a valid email address

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Thank you for subscribing

Our e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest health information.

Something went wrong with your subscription.

Please try again in a couple of minutes

  • Viner RM, et al. Roles of cyberbullying, sleep, and physical activity in mediating the effects of social media use on mental health and wellbeing among young people in England: A secondary analysis of longitudinal data. The Lancet. Child & Adolescent Health. 2019; doi:10.1016/S2352-4642(19)30186-5.
  • Riehm KE, et al. Associations between time spent using social media and internalizing and externalizing problems among US youth. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2325.
  • Woods HC, et al. #Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Journal of Adolescence. 2016; doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2016.05.008.
  • LeBourgeois MK, et al. Digital media and sleep in childhood and adolescence. Pediatrics. 2017; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1758J.
  • Hoge E, et al. Digital media, anxiety, and depression in children. Pediatrics. 2017; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1758G.
  • Council on Communications and Media. Media use in school-aged children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2016; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2592.Brown A, et al. Beyond 'turn it off': How to advise families on media use. AAP News. 2015; Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.
  • Kross E, et al. Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults. PlOS One. 2013; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069841.
  • Verduyn P, et al. Passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being: Experimental and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General. 2015; doi:10.1037/xge0000057.
  • Talking to kids and teens about social media and sexting — Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed Nov. 19, 2019.
  • Teens, social media & technology 2018. Pew Research Center. Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.
  • Nesi J, et al. Using social media for social comparison and feedback-seeking: Gender and popularity moderate associations with depressive symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 2015; doi:10.1007/s10802-015-0020-0.
  • Chou HT, et al. "They are happier and having better lives than I am": The impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others' lives. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. 2012; doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0324.
  • Bieber ED (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Dec. 4, 2019.

Products and Services

  • A Book: Tired Teens
  • Distracted Driving
  • Piercings: How to prevent complications
  • Talking to your teen about sex
  • Teen drug abuse
  • Teen suicide

Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.

  • Opportunities

Mayo Clinic Press

Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic Press .

  • Mayo Clinic on Incontinence - Mayo Clinic Press Mayo Clinic on Incontinence
  • The Essential Diabetes Book - Mayo Clinic Press The Essential Diabetes Book
  • Mayo Clinic on Hearing and Balance - Mayo Clinic Press Mayo Clinic on Hearing and Balance
  • FREE Mayo Clinic Diet Assessment - Mayo Clinic Press FREE Mayo Clinic Diet Assessment
  • Mayo Clinic Health Letter - FREE book - Mayo Clinic Press Mayo Clinic Health Letter - FREE book

Other Topics in Patient Care & Health Info

  • Diseases & Conditions A-Z
  • Symptoms A-Z
  • Tests & Procedures A-Z
  • Drugs & Supplements A-Z
  • Health Books
  • Healthy Living Program
  • Mayo Clinic Health Letter
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Teens and social media use Whats the impact

Your gift holds great power – donate today!

Make your tax-deductible gift and be a part of the cutting-edge research and care that's changing medicine.


"Books. Cats. Life is Good." –T.S. Eliot

Essay: “the dangers of social media”, by roman volovoy.

As Bill Murray asserts, “Social media is training us to compare our lives, instead of appreciating everything we are. No wonder why everyone is depressed.” Social networks are everywhere – it will not take long to find people staring into their phones in public, engaging in their electronic social activity. On the surface, nothing appears to be wrong. People use these incredible tools to connect with friends worldwide, stay up to date on the news, and participate in groups of interest. However, the pretty user interface hides many tricks and methods aimed at keeping users engaged and participating. Software architects built these systems with a deep understanding of human psychology and behavior. Social networks abuse a fundamental mechanism of our existence – the need to form groups with other people, communicate, and coexist. Social media is ripping apart the social aspect of human existence by creating a divide in communication, understanding, and unity (Palihapitiya). Digitizing our lives through free centralized platforms, which profit from human attention, created many problems in society including addiction, behavior manipulation, and misinformation.

            One of the first and most apparent issues with social networks is addiction. It may come as a surprise that it was an intentional design decision; the more time users spend on the platform, the more money that social network makes. The “feed” is a constant supply of information about friends’ posts, reposts, subscribed groups, and advertisement content. The algorithm chooses the information according to its value and scarcity. Streaks of uninteresting information are interwoven with attractive posts to keep the user engaged, and the anticipation of another jackpot is what makes social media feeds addictive but very subtle in their action (Kruger). The article “A Study of Components Of Behavioral Addiction To Social Media Use In Current Generation Of Pakistani Youth” statistically proves that social media causes behavioral addiction similar to that of chemical drugs (Mazhar et al). Researchers describe and compare human behavior alterations with parameters like “Conflict, Mood Modification, Relapse, Salience, Tolerance, and Withdrawal,” used for traditional addiction classifications (Mazhar et al). In the study, most participants were found with all six traditional classical addition parameters due to the regular use of Facebook (Mazhar et al). The ease of access to a wealth of information makes it extremely hard to abstain from using the platform; frequent mobile phone notifications and email reminders of missed events keep users hooked.

            Another issue is that social networks are capable of behavior modification. The collective attention of its users fuels the platform. One of the metrics that any social network tries to increase is the cost per click. The metric describes an amount that the advertiser will pay for a user who clicked on their ad. The more users engage with the ad, the more money Facebook, for xample, makes. So, it is in the platform’s best interest to learn as much as possible from the users’ actions, predict their behavior, and personalize the content. But how does the algorithm get to know the user in the first place? “Likes” are a universal metric that is an indicator of what user prefers; seeing but not liking a post is an indication of disinterest. In “Private Traits and Attributes Are Predictable from Digital Records of Human Behavior,” researchers used personal traits and social media activity history to create behavior models (Kosinski et al). In the conclusion of the paper, they state: “We show that a wide variety of people’s personal attributes, ranging from sexual orientation to intelligence, can be automatically and accurately inferred using their Facebook Likes” (Kosinski et al). Their dimension reduction model was able to find if the subjects are satisfied with life or are emotionally stable and whether they are introverts or extraverts (Kosinski et al). This information is what gives Facebook enough intelligence to drive the prices of targeted advertisements up. The researchers also state that since this information is “inferred” from the user, it is not legally required to request individual consent or notify the users (Kosinski et al). As for the behavior modification, in a large-scale study, “The spread of emotion via Facebook,” a data scientist claims that the social media platform can alter its users’ emotions (Kramer). The study found a statistically strong link between exposure to what the scientist labels an “emotional post” to the users’ subsequent behavior exposed to said content (Kramer). Additionally, the article highlights that emotions can also be suppressed or affected negatively via the use of “Negative words” (Kramer). The algorithms extract as much profit as possible from human attention on a global scale. Sooner or later, these practices will change how humans behave and interact with one another. Chamath Palihapitiya, a former executive of growth at Facebook, stated in an interview that “Your behaviors, you do not realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you got to decide how much you are willing to give up” (“Money as an Instrument of Change”).

Many social media users are not aware of their addiction because they are “in the loop” – social networks become an integral part of their lives. Their new behavior becomes the norm as they are constantly checking for updates, liking other users’ content, and posting pictures. In a way, their behavior is impulsive and is shaped by the design of social networks. Some experts from the field of human sociology publish their work on the adverse effects of social media, hoping that it will help those addicted to the internet without knowing it. They conduct studies on a substantial amount of people, over three hundred thousand at times, and perform many statistical causality experiments. Nevertheless, some critics still argue against this notion of the intentional addictive design of social networks. They claim that many articles on social network addiction are fictitious and are used to lure readers with their headlines.

In the article “Why ‘Social Media Addiction’ Makes Absolutely Zero Sense,” Adam Singler, a social PR expert, expresses his viewpoints on what he calls a hysteresis in the modern world (Singler). In “The Future Buzz” blog, he highlights a study that was aimed at analyzing addictive properties of the social networks, and then quickly refutes it by saying: “That aside, these additional data points point not to addiction, but to a shifting of behavior” (Singler). Without any argumentation, he says that the study’s data does not prove that social media is addictive (Singler). The statistic reported that “56%: Social media users check Facebook at least once a day. 12%: Social media users check Facebook every couple of hours” (Singler). For Adam, these numbers are not high enough to be considered addiction – “Some other stats from the article don’t even point to addiction” (Singler). His opinion is very subjective and stands no ground. He is being hasty and is generalizing the issues without understanding much about the classical definition of addiction. The subject is more nuanced, requiring evaluation of many factors such as “Conflict, Mood Modification, Relapse, Salience, Tolerance, and Withdrawal ” (Mazhar et al). The study that Adam used for his argument concluded that every tenth person who uses social media checks it hourly. On the contrary, in my opinion, the percentage is very high and is actually indicative of Facebook’s addicting design.

Furthermore, Adam stacks the deck by ignoring the significant factor that encourages social media companies to create addictive products – money. Meanwhile, he does mention that opinions for the addictiveness of social media have anterior motives: “The idea of framing technology as addiction is sensationalistic and done to grab headlines, pageviews and links” (Singler). Interestingly, Adam is employed as is an industry speaker in social PR and online marketing areas. His livelihood is in online advertisements, which, as discussed previously, is the primary reason for the addictive design of these social giants. It is plain and simple – social media depends on the user’s attention to generate its revenue.

Another article that deems social networks as harmless was published by Pamela Rutledge in Psychology Today. It tries to clear the bad rep media platforms get for their ways of retaining user attention. Like Adam, she highlights the potential attention-grabbing ulterior motives of proponents of the idea that social media causes addiction. She is convinced that the entire argument of addiction is just blown up for likes and clicks. In her article, she cites many studies and undermines links found between human behavior and social networks. She states that “sometimes things that are only correlated get reported as being a ’cause’” (Rutledge). Indeed, statistical correlation does not mean causation, but it is a potential indication of it. Simply dismissing many studies as irrelevant due to this prenotion of causality is very unprofessional. She then later attacks those who try to raise awareness of the issue by stating: “First of all, it concerns me that, as a society, we are very cavalier tossing around the concept of ‘addiction.’ addiction is a serious psychological diagnosis based on specific and seriously life-impairing criteria” (Rutledge). According to Mazhar and researchers’ excellent and professional study, addiction can be mild or strong. There is no “cutoff point” for when someone is deemed addicted, as each patient and their condition are different (Mazhar et al). Maybe social media is less addictive than drugs, but dismissing it as harmless because it is not as potent as, for example, opium, is a logical fallacy .

Another argument present in both articles against the addictive nature of social networks is that it is not the network’s fault; instead, it is the users. Both Adam and Pamela dismiss that social networks are the cause of the addition by passing the blame on lone internet users instead. “It is people who already have problems, which are then only displayed through addiction to Facebook” (Rutledge). But, Adam states, “ that would be a manifestation of a real problem and not the actual problem in and of itself.  It’s a symptom, not a cause” (Adam).

All and all, social networks are nothing of a miracle. They can allow communication with anyone instantly. Society had changed and adjusted to this technology, but our primitive monkey brains have not. We still chase the reward above everything else, and we are being cheated by having it for free. The price we pay, as a collective, is enormous. Freedom of information, regardless of its correctness, doubt of the established beliefs, and privacy, are what drives human progress forward. With social networks, we partly lose the means to progress and develop. Instead, we get addiction, hyper-personalized information, censorship, and observation of every move we make on the app. The issues are not apparent at the moment, as they do not have immediate implications. Social networks already have a global presence and are in control of information. As humans depend more on them, their adverse side effects will affect the vast majority of the population, permanently altering the next generation.

Works cited

Kosinski, Michael, et al. “Private Traits and Attributes Are Predictable from Digital Records of Human Behavior.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 110, no. 15, 2013, pp. 5802–5805., doi:10.1073/pnas.1218772110.

Kramer, Adam.” The Spread of Emotion via Facebook” Facebook Research , 16 May 2012, Accessed 3 Oct. 2016.

Kruger, Daniel. “Social Media Copies Gambling Methods ‘to Create Psychological Cravings.’” IHPI News, 8 May 2018, Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

Mazhar, Nauman, et al. “A Study of Components Of Behavioral Addiction To Social Media Use In Current Generation Of Pakistani Youth.”  The Professional Medical Journal , vol 27, no. 08, 2020, pp. 1680-1685.  Independent Medical Trust , doi:10.29309/tpmj/2020.27.08.4494. Accessed 7 Oct. 2020.

Palihapitiya, Chamath. “Money as an Instrument of Change.” YouTube, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 17 Nov. 2017, Accessed 3 Oct. 2020.

Rutledge, Pamela. “Social Media Addiction: Engage Brain Before Believing.” Psychology Today , 22 May 2010, . Accessed 2 Nov. 2020.

Singler, Adam. “Social Media Addiction Makes Absolutely Zero Sense.” The Future Buzz , 18 Apr. 2010, . Accessed 2 Nov. 2020.

Roman Volovoy is a Russian student majoring in mechanical engineering at the American University in Dubai. Throughout his years in this major, he has written many scientific reports, but what he enjoys most is writing about contemporary issues in a simple and down-to-earth manner. He has developed an understanding of modern technology and the issues they bring to society. He hopes to shed light on some of these issues with this publication. 

Share this:

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

You are commenting using your account. (  Log Out  /  Change  )

You are commenting using your Facebook account. (  Log Out  /  Change  )

Connecting to %s

Notify me of new comments via email.

Notify me of new posts via email.

' src=

  • Already have a account? Log in now.
  • Follow Following
  • Copy shortlink
  • Report this content
  • View post in Reader
  • Manage subscriptions
  • Collapse this bar
  • Client Reviews
  • Our Writers
  • Sample Papers
  • Study Resources

Get Your Grades Improved by Our Professional Writers - We are Trusted by Thousands of Students!

Global compose inc. constantly employs professional homework writing help writers from usa, uk, ca and au. the writers are highly trained professionals, comprising of 500+ masters and ph.d level writers available 24/7. we assist clients who either have difficulty completing their assignments, sick or in need family time. to get started, submit your instructions., calculate your order price.

Use Discount Code: FIRST5 at Checkout FIRST5 -->


  • English 101

Sample Argumentative Essay on The Dangers Of Social Networking

Get homework help on this topic - check the quality of writing from this sample, if you are looking for assignment help on this topic or similar topic, click on order now button to submit your details. once we have your order details, your assignment will be assigned to one of our best writers, who will then proceed to write your paper and deliver it within your specified deadline. thank you for choosing us today, the dangers of social networking.

In this age and era of technology, almost everyone who has a Smartphone or access to the internet is social networking . When you walk down the streets, sit on a bus, or in any public place where there are youths and adults, you will find everyone busy with their phones. All these individuals are social networking each other. It means that social networking is a tool that is being used as a communication device, however, many people are worried regards its negative consequences on the life of youths and adults in the current society. This is the reason social networking has been a debatable topic with various divided opinions regarding its benefits and risks on the life of people. There are those who think it is an amazing tool, while others refute this idea claiming that it has caused and is causing more harm than good. However, the bottom line of this discussion is that regardless of the benefits it offers, the dangers are more visible than good. The dangers of social networking outweigh any benefits it offers because of the ways it has negatively impacted the lives of youths a statement that not everyone agrees with this is analyzed below.

Today, there are currently several social media network channels such as Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Snapchat among many others. This has created much pressure on the youths today who feel that they must fit in properly and thus ends up using some if not all of these channels.  However, being a youth, especially a teenager is a critical stage in life whereby an individual feels confident, but at the same time, they are deeply vulnerable to whatever they expose themselves to (Lillington, 2016. p 1). A new study conducted has identified that teenagers that take part in social media especially during the night after school damage their patterns of sleep placing them at risk of being depressed or anxious about life itself (Williams, 2015. p. 1). However, this does not apply to youths alone because adults too are addicts to social networking. Anyone who is on any social network is under pressure 24/7 especially to check on posts or texts or reply to messages sent to them. The anxiety increases emotional investment in social media which is not healthy for anyone. People will even wake up in the middle of the night not to miss any discussion on social media (Udurie, 2015, p. 1). In the end, most people are tired and not as active as expected throughout the day because they never had enough sleep which is the onset of depression in their lives.

Another dangerous issue is regarding the strong emotional connection that people have with social media. Many girls today comfortably use social media to air their experiences –good or bad on social media instead of talking to their guardians or parents about them (Savage, 2014, p. 1). At the same time, teens are used to posting disturbing images of people who are dangerously thin as a way to inspire other girls to be like them. However, studies have revealed that this habit is causing more damage than good because it puts the teens under pressure to try and copy the “trending” lifestyle without considering its advantages or disadvantages. It means that social networking influences the behaviors of teenagers and this has been tested and found true based on the ways in which they behave all over the world (Student reports, 2013, p. 3)

A study conducted by Leonard Kimberly revealed that there are certain hashtags that are being used on social media that are strongly associated with teenagers self-harming themselves (Leonard, 2015, p.1). For instance, he found a video regarding a challenge that involves swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon in less than sixty seconds minus taking anything, a habit that scientists have revealed is dangerous to the lungs (Monroe, 2014, p. 1) Majority of teens go around using the same hashtag posting their videos as they take the challenges. This shows how much social media is influence negative behavior among people.

At the same time, there are risks involved in posting things on social media. One thing that is certain is that after something is posted, regardless of whether the owner retains it or not, there is the possibility of the contents being shared, downloaded or screenshot. This has led to cases of social media bully because the messages or pictures will be regularly posted or viewed by other people who will end up judging them or even criticizing them in a way that leads to depression or suicide (Riley, 2016, p. 1).

However, regardless of how bad social media may appear to be, in the eyes of some people, it is a tool that has made the world a better place for everyone. First, it increases connectivity meaning that a person can still keep in touch with their old friends or family members regardless of where they are in the world. At the same time, apart from keeping people connected, people have taken advantage of social media to advertise their products by pushing website links that they can follow and get to learn more about it (Foresite group, 2015, p. 1). Some adults have taken social networks as a platform to educate others by sharing messages about their business. This has increased the purchase of products, especially among those people who are either busy going shopping or those who want a particular product that they cannot access within their vicinity (Peckerar, 2015, p. 1). At the same time, teenagers use social media networks to connect with each other in groups and conduct online discussions based on their course of study. This has boosted the learning experience while at the same time decreasing the level of idleness among teenagers.

In conclusion, the debate on social media networking especially its advantages and disadvantages are arguable because each person has different opinions based on what they see and think. However, one thing that is certain is that the dangers of social networking outweigh any benefits it offers because of the ways it has negatively impacted the lives of youths a statement that everyone may agree with.

Foresite group., 2015. 4 reasons the Benefits of Social Media Outweigh the Risks in the Professional Services Industry .

Do you have an assignment on a similar or related topic we can help you right now click on the order now button....

Are you looking for homework writing help on this topic? This question was posted by one of our client seeking homework help.  If you are therefore looking for an assignment to submit, then click on  ORDER NOW button or contact us today. Our Professional Writers will be glad to write your paper from scratch, and delivered within your deadline. Perfect choice for your excellent grades!

We ensure that assignment instructions are followed, the paper is written from scratch. If you are not satisfied by our service, you can either request for refund or unlimited revisions for your order at absolutely no extra pay. Once the writer has completed your paper, the editors check your paper for any grammar/formatting/plagiarism mistakes, then the final paper is sent to your email.

Writing Features

Affordable Writing Services

Experienced Writing Team

24/7 Team of Writers

Professional E ssay Writers

Quality Measures

Trained Support Team

Non-Plagiarized Papers

Well Researched Papers

Free Writing Resources

Privacy | Confidentiality

We do not share your personal information with any company or person. we have also ensured that the ordering process is secure; you can check the security feature in the browser. for confidentiality purposes, all papers are sent to your personal email. if you have any questions, contact us any time via email, live chat or our phone number., our clients testimonials, a team of +500 masters and ph.d level homework writing help writers available 24/7 cannot get it wrong. the following are customer reviews about the quality of our services..

“Thanks for offering your professional assistance on this one. Topic was confusing but writer worked it out”

Added 24 Minutes Ago

“Thanks, I like the literature review, it is discussed in depth. Have looked at the results section and it is conclusive as I expected. Thank you”

Added 12 Hours Ago

“I like the discussion on the case study. Thank you. Am satisfied and wanted to request that same writer will handle my future assignments”

Added 30 Minutes Ago

“I was paranoid about online writing services, but on this one, the results are evident that you are much better. Will order more papers”

Added 3 Minutes Ago

“I think the paper is alright. If I can book the writer for the soon upcoming assignment, it will be great. Thanks”

Added 6 Minutes Ago

Why choose our homework writing help, we try to work as diligent as we can to help you meet your homework’s deadline. our support staff is always online 24/7 to help clarify any issues or concerns you have regarding our services. talk to us today to find out how our writers may be of help to you., customized papers, we consider your instructions and specifications in order to tailor the paper to suit your expectations., only professional writers, all our writers have a masters or ph.d and are well trained to handle assignments in various disciplines at different education levels., fast and reliable, our writers are capable of handling any assignment with short deadline and deliver without any delay, thus saving you time and energy, round the clock support, our customer support is always ready to offer real time assistance of day and night, through email, live-chat and phone., cost effective prices, we save you money with our affordable prices and huge discounts on all assignments., 100% original papers, all our papers are thoroughly researched and written from scratch. be sure of completely non-plagiarized papers., our ordering process, to get started with our homework writing help, simply click on the order now button. its easy, secure and takes less than 2 minutes to complete. the following steps illustrates the entire process., fill the order form: include all instructions and files for your assignment., submit your payment via card or paypal so that your order can be processed., a writer works on your paper and submits to editors upon completion., the completed paper is examined by our editors, then sent to your email, want to learn from experts check the writing tips below.

Final Paper Assignments

  • Thesis Writing Help
  • Dissertation Chapters
  • Writing Research Papers
  • Project Writing
  • Term Paper Writing
  • Speech Writing

Weekly Assignments

  • Essay Writing
  • Coursework Writing
  • Assignment Writing Help
  • Homework Writing Help
  • Book Review Writing
  • Movie Review Writing

Creative Assignments

  • Power Points Preparation
  • Analyzing Case Studies
  • Creative Writing Papers
  • Critical Thinking Writing
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Capstone Project Writing

Admission Papers

  • Writing Scholarship Essay
  • Writing Admission Essays
  • Writing Application Essays
  • Writing Entrance Essays
  • Personal Statement Essays
  • Reaction Paper Writing

Samples of our Writing Illustrated Below

We have compiled a list of samples written by our writers for your review. you can use these samples to write your paper. you must however cite the source properly. if you are looking for a non-plagiarised paper, click on the order button. our professionals will work on your order. are you looking for writing tips check the list on this page. we are glad that we could help..

  • Discussion Essay Homework
  • Dissertation/Thesis Writing
  • Book Review Paper
  • Business Plan Homework
  • Capstone Project Paper
  • Creative Writing Homework
  • Critical Thinking Homework
  • Application Essay Homework
  • Case Study Homework
  • Literature Review Homework
  • Personal Reflection Homework
  • Reflection Essay Homework
  • Research Proposal Homework
  • Annotated bibliography Paper
  • Article Review Homework
  • Research Paper Homework
  • Movie Review Sample
  • Term Paper Sample
  • Admission Essay Homework
  • Argumentative Essay Paper
  • Response Essay Homework

A List of Related Papers On This Category is Provided Below

  • Sample Book Review Paper on : Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Sample Book Review on the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
  • Sample Coursework Paper on Mindset T-chart
  • Sample Essay on President Richard M. Nixon
  • Sample Assignment Paper on Family and Relationship with Other Factors
  • Sample Essay Paper on Log 18-30
  • Sample Essay on Factors Affecting Virtual Team’s Leadership
  • Sample Essay on the Use of Social Networking Sites
  • Sample Book Review Paper on Book Review
  • Sample Essay on Summary and Reflections
  • Sample Paper on SOM 301 Persuasive Memo Presentations (Spring 2014)
  • Sample Paper on Two Cities you have visited
  • Sample Essay on My First Attempt to Ride a Car
  • Sample Courseworks Paper on the Tragedy of Julius Caesar: Analytical Response
  • Sample Essay on Fallacies in the Media’s Spotlight
  • Sample Essay on Comparison and Difference
  • Sample Essay on Analyzing Essay about We Are the World Lyrics
  • Sample Essay on Canadian Icon
  • Sample Essay on Collaborative Learning Environment
  • Sample Essay on My Evolution as a Reader and Writer

Get your Homework Written by our Top-Notch Writers Now

Dangers of Social Media

Why is social networking so popular? Most people are likely to argue saying it’s popular because it’s available. Some might also believe that social media is more beneficial than its consequences. Author Dara Greenwood from Popular Media Culture reviews research shows “a craving for positive feedback and validation may be the common thread that links a desire for fame with social media use” ( Dara 395). Today, most teens, kids, and even adults are using social media to feel validated. Instead of talking to someone face-to-face, people are starting to prefer texting or talking over the phone. Life without social media is nearly unimaginable for some people. The overuse of social media can have negative effects including addiction, cyberbullying, and education.

To begin with, I would like to tell you about my personal experience of addiction to social media. I have been “social” throughout grade school and up until sophomore year of high school. Talking to my friends, families, and talking in class was almost irresistible for me. I crave the connection and engagement that I used to have with my friends and families. I am not embarrassed to say I was addicted to social media intensely. Once you download apps or get into social media, you are bound to get addicted very fast. The internet has so many things that you can play or watch every minute. I had a negative mindset of spending time with my friends without phones. I thought it would be boring and dull hanging up instead, I spend my time calling them on Facetime.

Due to my habit of getting on social media, my dad would always yell at me for being on my phone during supper time. I would not talk to my family unless it was important. Last year, I realized my relationship with my parents and my brother, (who is also addicted to social media) had begun to turn bad. Spending quality time with my family became less and less. I preferred texting my mom asking when dinner was ready, instead of going downstairs. I would spend so many hours watching movies and browsing through Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat feeds without realizing that I had wasted a whole day. After doing research for this essay, I’ve realized that being physically and mentally in the moment is far more important and satisfying than capturing them with my phone.

One of the main issues on social media is cyberbullying. Cyberbullies have used social media to their advantages to threaten people anonymously by posting comments such as: to kill themselves, calling them names, fat shaming, to not show up at schools, and lastly exposing their private pictures like nudes. This type of behavior would be unaccepted if it was to happen in schools or public places. Due to bullies being able to hide behind their computers or phones, there is no evidence as to who the person might be. For bullies, social media is the key, without the use of media most people are likely to restrain bullying others. Anyone online can become a victim, causing profound psychosocial outcomes. Being a bullied victim on the internet can lead to depression, anxiety, severe isolation. These symptoms can sadly lead to suicide. If there was no social medias or internet, there is a low chance of cyberbullying.

Social media also has a negative impact on education. Students start relying on sites like google because of the accessibility of information that is available This means, most students don’t pay attention in school because they know all of their questions on assignments or homework can be found on the web. Students’ focus on learning reduces as well as their ability to retain information. On top of that, students are also attempting to multi-task. They check their different social media accounts while in class or when they’re studying. This behavior leads to reduced academic performances. Students’ ability to concentrate is significantly reduced due to the distraction of them always checking on their social media activities.

Although social media has its negative sides, there are a few positive sides as well. Clayton in Social networking: Why It’s Really So Popular says “social media offer people a way to satisfy their desire to connect with others and meet new people” (392). Through Facebook, I have been able to connect with family members that live in other states. Not only do I get to see what they’re up to, but it also gives me a sense them that I’m there. Through social media, people can make new friends and build their relationships. Social media also gives different campaigns and associations to disseminate information and mobilize people. Many people debate and have various opinions about social media. While social media causes issues like addiction, cyberbullying, and education some people still wouldn’t forsake social media. They believe it’s vital in their life. What about you? Do you believe social media is unhealthy?

Cite this page

Dangers of Social Media. (2021, May 12). Retrieved from

"Dangers of Social Media." , 12 May 2021, (2021). Dangers of Social Media . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 5 Sep. 2023]

"Dangers of Social Media.", May 12, 2021. Accessed September 5, 2023.

"Dangers of Social Media," , 12-May-2021. [Online]. Available: . [Accessed: 5-Sep-2023] (2021). Dangers of Social Media . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 5-Sep-2023]

Dangers of Social Media. (2021, May 12). Retrieved September 5, 2023 , from

This paper was written and submitted by a fellow student

Our verified experts write your 100% original paper on any topic

Having doubts about how to write your paper correctly?

Our editors will help you fix any mistakes and get an A+!

Leave your email and we will send a sample to you.

Please check your inbox

Sorry, copying content is not allowed on this website

Please indicate where to send you the sample.

Politics latest: Concrete crisis was 'foreseeable', ex-Bank economist says

Gilllian Keegan decided unilaterally to take the most cautious approach to the school concrete crisis - and civil servants fear for the repercussions. Rishi Sunak has lifted a ban on onshore windfarms in England after his backbenchers led a rebellion.

Tuesday 5 September 2023 23:10, UK

Andy Haldane

 Key points

  • Whitehall fears Keegan has 'unleashed a Pandora's box' in concrete crisis
  • Crisis was 'foreseeable', ex-Bank of England chief economist says
  • Exclusive:   Only four schools completed under rebuilding scheme
  • Ali Fortescue: A year since he lost to Truss, Sunak is still fighting a losing battle
  • Government confirms it will relax rules on onshore wind farms
  • Birmingham City Council declares effective bankruptcy
  • Who is on course to win next general election? The latest polling from Sky News live tracker
  • Live reporting by Ben Bloch and (earlier)  Faith Ridler

Thank you for joining us on the Politics Hub for another busy day in Westminster.

Here's what happened today:

  • Sky News revealed that Education Secretary Gillian Keegan was given a number of options to deal with the concrete crisis in schools, and she took the most cautious one, meaning she is "effectively closing more schools" than might otherwise have been shut;
  • Labour accused ministers of "shrugging their shoulders" despite repeated warnings about the risks posed by crumbling school buildings;
  • And schools minister Nick Gibb admitted that the Treasury did prevent his department rebuilding more schools;
  • Parliament's education committee announced it would be hauling in a minister and the top Department for Education official to take evidence on the concrete crisis;
  • The former chief economist of the Bank of England said the bank itself contributed to fuelling inflation by printing money for far longer than necessary;
  • The Home Office announced it will seek to formally declare the Wagner group a terrorist organisation;
  • The government relaxed the rules that effectively banned onshore wind farms, staving off a Tory rebellion in the Commons this evening;
  • It also announced that it will be banning nitrous oxide by the end of the year;
  • The dates for the Rutherglen and Mid Bedfordshire by-elections were confirmed for the 5 and 19 October respectively;
  • The chancellor confirmed the autumn statement will take place on 22 November;
  • Birmingham City Council effectively declared bankruptcy after being hit by £760m bill.

Join us tomorrow from 6am for the latest politics news.

Plenty of political stories make tomorrow's front pages.

Many lead of the work and pensions secretary's statement that up to a million people who claim sickness and disability benefits will be ordered to seek work.

Others have stories about the ongoing concrete crisis in schools and public buildings.

For the front pages in full, see our dedicated coverage here:

Bosses at NHS England have written to trusts across the country outlining actions that need taking to ensure Reinforced Aerated Autoclaved Concrete (RAAC) is identified and removed from their properties.

In a letter tonight, the NHS's chief commercial officer and national emergency planning and incident response director wrote that 27 sites across NHS England have already identified RAAC as part of ongoing work dating back to 2019.

But they reiterated that NHS trusts should be working to ensure that assessments should be carried out, if not already, to "assure themselves that the assessments made were sufficiently thorough and covered all buildings and areas on your estate".

They also recommended that where RAAC has already been identified, plans to manage that are put in place.

In a statement, Simon Corben, director of estates and facilities, said: "The NHS has undertaken significant work over the last four years to identify the extent of RAAC within hospitals and other trust buildings in England, putting in place a national programme to support Trusts with their mitigation, monitoring and eradication programmes, in line with expert guidance from the Institution of Structural Engineers.

"This guidance remains in place, and we have written to all local NHS trusts again today to reiterate the need to ensure all recommended steps have been taken to maintain the safety of staff, patients and visitors."

The UK is set to proscribe the Russian paramilitary organisation the Wagner group as terrorists, the government has announced.

The group has acted as a proxy military force for the Russian state, and the government said this evening that the decision to proscribe it "comes after consideration of the nature and scale of the organisation’s activities as well as the threat they pose to British nationals abroad".

It also comes after numerous calls from Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the group has operated in Ukrainian territory.

A draft order to proscribe the group will be laid before parliament tomorrow.

If passed, it will mean that it will be illegal to be a member or supporter of the group, and its assets can also be seized.

In a statement, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: "Wagner is a violent and destructive organisation which has acted as a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas.

"While Putin's regime decides what to do with the monster it created, Wagner's continuing destabilising activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political goals."

She added: "They are terrorists, plain and simple - and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law."

For the latest on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, click here to see our dedicated live coverage.

By Ben van der Merwe, Joely Santa Cruz and Amrit Singh Mann, data journalists

The amount of money available for schools to repair and maintain their buildings has fallen by more than a quarter since 2010 (28%), a real terms cut of £2.2bn per year.

Since the Conservatives formed a majority government in 2015, the Department for Education's capital budget has averaged £5.6bn per year - compared with £7.8bn per year in the last four years under Labour.

That is the money earmarked for things like construction, maintenance and repair work.

More than 100 schools and colleges have been told to shut buildings, partially or completely, because of concerns about the safety of the reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) used to construct them.

So where is the money coming from for repairs?

Read the full details here:

Helen Whately has thanked emergency services after being in a "nasty road accident" on Sunday.

The social care minister said that both her daughters were "okay", but she broke her ankle.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), she thanked emergency services and members of the public for their assistance after the crash.

She added that some of her meetings and constituency services may have to move online in the coming weeks, but emphasised she will be working as normal.

You can read her post in full here…

By Alexandra Rogers, political reporter

The UK has been "underinvesting" in its infrastructure and the crisis surrounding concrete defects in schools and public buildings was "foreseeable", a former Bank of England chief economist has told Sky News.

Andy Haldane told the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge show that schools, hospitals, road, rail and digital infrastructure across the UK had all suffered from a lack of investment.

In an exclusive interview with Ridge, the economist said: "We fare poorly when it comes to the amount we save as a country, save as a nation and the amount we invest as a nation.

"And that's the main reason why we're seeing these problems."

Mr Haldane was speaking to Ridge as the UK is in the grip of a crisis regarding the safety of its public buildings and the use of  reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete  (RAAC), which is prone to collapse after a period of time.

Read his comments in full here:

Fifteen-year-old Florrie says she hated school so much it made her ill. She now attends an online school and works from the home office at the bottom of her garden - and says she’s finding it easier to focus on her studies.

Watch the full story here from our politics and people correspondent here...

By Sam Coates, deputy political editor

Labour's Rachel Reeves has opened up a clear lead over the Conservatives' Jeremy Hunt when voters are asked who should be the next chancellor of the exchequer, according to an exclusive poll for Sky News.

The Labour shadow chancellor is the choice of 21% of voters, according to YouGov, while  Jeremy Hunt  is judged to make the better chancellor by 14%.

Ms Reeves and Mr Hunt have been broadly neck-and-neck in the polls since Mr Hunt was appointed chancellor last October, so this poll represents the first moment where the opposition have taken a meaningful lead.

Traditionally, Labour has struggled to win the economic argument at election time, meaning this lead is likely to cheer Labour HQ.

But there are still 65% of the public who say they don't know, offering a significant opportunity for the Conservatives.

You can read more from our deputy political editor Sam Coates here:

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has come under fire from colleagues for her "unilateral" decision to determine which school buildings need to close as part of the concrete crisis, Sky News has learned.

Ministers elsewhere in Whitehall fear she has opened a "Pandora's Box" by setting a more cautious than necessary standard that could affect a huge array of public buildings, including housing stock, local authority buildings and the military estate. 

The education secretary has made clear she took the most cautious of the options presented by officials over which buildings to shut last week.

Sky News understands that the decision was signed off by the education team in Number 10 with the PM's knowledge.

However there was no Cabinet Office meeting and no ministerial follow-up for days after the issue emerged. The Department for Education "belatedly" shared the technical advice on why they shut school with others in Whitehall - some of whom disagree it shows a need to shut schools.

Sky News understands that she "informed" the relevant Whitehall committees which have been dealing with the issue of crumbling concrete for years. However she did not fully consult or secure agreement for her move, believing she needed to move fast. 

Ministers are worried they could now face massive disruption and spiralling costs if other public buildings are now held to the same precedent set in the Department for Education.

"This is sub optimal," said a senior Whitehall figure. "She has made a unilateral decision. It's not been resolved and it's a bit of a mess."

Sources close to the education secretary say that the decision was never intended to act as a precedent since the school estate is unique. "We are being over-cautious," said an education source. 

There are tens of thousands of school buildings in disparate parts of the country and often do not have easy access to estate managers, monitors or experts who can monitor the state of buildings, and the buildings themselves are unusually crowded.

However there is concern elsewhere that the decision by Keegan may nevertheless appear like a precedent, and if other public buildings are not held to the same standard they will have to fix them or face legal risk and political pressure. Responsibility for the issue will now fall to the Government Property Agency, but ministers are already concerned about the implications for budgets. 

"There is a big fear this is going to spiral," said a Tory source.

Be the first to get Breaking News

Install the Sky News app for free

social media is dangerous essay


  1. 10 Hazardous Social Media Apps Kids Should Not Use

    social media is dangerous essay

  2. Regulating free speech on social media is dangerous and futile

    social media is dangerous essay

  3. Man fined $30k for fake Yelp review

    social media is dangerous essay

  4. A for and against essay about the internet

    social media is dangerous essay

  5. How social media can ruin your online reputation

    social media is dangerous essay

  6. Why answering fun questions on social media is dangerous.

    social media is dangerous essay


  1. Social Media Is More Dangerous Than You THINK

  2. Essay On Social Media || Creative Technology

  3. Essay on social media

  4. How Social Media lies To Us

  5. The Psychological Effects Behind the Dangerous Challenges of Social Media

  6. Social Media is Dangerous #shortsvideo


  1. Just How Harmful Is Social Media? Our Experts Weigh-In

    September 27, 2021 A recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook was aware of mental health risks linked to the use of its Instagram app but kept those findings secret.

  2. Is social media bad for you? The evidence and the unknowns

    Since social media is relatively new to us, conclusive findings are limited. The research that does exist mainly relies on self-reporting, which can often be flawed, and the majority of studies...

  3. Social Media Is a Public Health Crisis

    July 20, 2021, at 10:40 a.m. | Social Media Is a Public Health Crisis More More than half of recent survey respondents said their social media use intensified their feelings of anxiety,...

  4. How Harmful Is Social Media?

    June 3, 2022 Illustration by Ari Liloan In April, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt published an essay in The Atlantic in which he sought to explain, as the piece's title had it, "Why the...

  5. The Dangers of Social Media Essay

    The Dangers of Social Media Essay Decent Essays 908 Words 4 Pages 6 Works Cited Open Document Like technology, our species has adapted to fit modern times. Through these adaptations, we have begun to communicate through our newly developed technology by means of social media.

  6. Too much social media can be harmful, but it's not addictive like drugs

    Too much social media can be harmful. Shutterstock/RoBird Too much social media can be harmful, but it's not addictive like drugs Published: March 23, 2021 10.37am EDT LinkedIn If you spend...

  7. Is Social Media Dangerous for Teenagers?

    Posted October 14, 2021 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster Key points Research finds an association between social media use and symptoms of anxiety/depression and body image issues in teenagers....

  8. Social Media Is Harmful Essay

    Social media is an online service, platform or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people who share interest or activities. Some famous sites are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The generalization of the internet makes us live conveniently and fast.

  9. Essay on Dangers of Social Media

    Cyberbullying Our role in combating this issue Social media: the acceptable drug Social media is a drug. This generation is so reliant on it and it's worrying. They spend hours scrolling through their feed whilst engorged in other people's lives. They check their own posts, likes, and so on for a hit of dopamine that keeps them going.

  10. Yes, Social Media Really Is Undermining Democracy

    My essay laid out a wide array of harms that social media has inflicted on society. Political polarization is just one of them, but it is central to the story of rising democratic dysfunction.

  11. Dangers Of Social Media Essay

    The definition of social media is a group of internet-based applications that allows the creation and exchange of user-generated contents such as tweet, post, picture, audio files, video and others more which is created by users of an online system and service. Social media is designed to be shared.

  12. Effects of Social Media on Children

    There are dangers to be aware of, though, including: Cyberbullying. Online predators. Sharing too much information. False marketing. Dangerous viral trends. "Kids don't have the cognitive and executive functioning to think through harmful situations and why those might be a bad idea," says Dr. Eshleman.

  13. The Importance of Staying Safe on Social Media

    The Importance of Staying Safe on Social Media. A famous figure once stated, "Social media is not a subset of the internet. Social media is the internet.". In other words, over time, social media has taken over the internet. After realizing that, we also realized that social media is not as safe as we think it may be.

  14. Teens and social media use: What's the impact?

    Social media harms. However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure. The risks might be related to how much social media teens use. A 2019 study of more than 6,500 12- to 15-year-olds ...

  15. Essay: "The Dangers of Social Media", by Roman Volovoy

    January 4, 2021 Indelible Essay: "The Dangers of Social Media", by Roman Volovoy As Bill Murray asserts, "Social media is training us to compare our lives, instead of appreciating everything we are. No wonder why everyone is depressed."

  16. Essay On Dangers Of Social Media

    Essay On Dangers Of Social Media. Social media is a way to stay connected with the world. Through social media we communicate, share our ideas, and witness interesting things others have experienced, but social media may also increase our opportunities to make unwanted friends, and inspires us to become a different version of the person that ...

  17. Dangers Of Social Media Essay

    Social media has increased the loneliness factor in many teenagers because it is a platform which tells them about the hangout plans they weren't included in. Teens who are heavy users of social media have increased their risk of depression by 27 percent. Heavy use of social media also increases the risk of suicide.

  18. Sample Argumentative Essay on The Dangers Of Social Networking

    Sample Argumentative Essay on The Dangers Of Social Networking The dangers of social networking In this age and era of technology, almost everyone who has a Smartphone or access to the internet is social networking.

  19. The Dangers Of Social Media Analysis

    That being said, social media should not be encouraged to the public. At first use, social media does not seem dangerous, but it is. These sites diminish its user's privacy to the point that it is accepted (Anderson 1). Not only do social networks hurt us, but users use it in a way for emotional self-harm.

  20. Dangers Of Social Media Essay

    Dangers Of Social Media Essay Decent Essays 751 Words 4 Pages Open Document Social Media, A Threat to American Democracy? Social media is a large threat to 21st century American democracy. Social media has become a very dangerous need in today's society.

  21. Dangers of Social Media

    For bullies, social media is the key, without the use of media most people are likely to restrain bullying others. Anyone online can become a victim, causing profound psychosocial outcomes. Being a bullied victim on the internet can lead to depression, anxiety, severe isolation. These symptoms can sadly lead to suicide.

  22. Essay on Social Media

    Advantages of Social Media. When we look at the positive aspect of social media, we find numerous advantages. The most important being a great device for education. All the information one requires is just a click away. Students can educate themselves on various topics using social media. Moreover, live lectures are now possible because of ...

  23. Why Is It Dangerous For Little Kids Social Media

    145 Words1 Page. Is it dangerous for little kids social media? My answer is yes. Here are some bullets. Young kids can be cyberbullied They can also be kidnaped. It could also affect their health. I don't want a young kid to be cyberbullied so that is why I hate it. Here. Are some examples: Could be selfish Being a stalker Killing someone the ...

  24. Politics latest: Keegan says it was not 'a mistake' to go on holiday

    Gillian Keegan was confronted with the clip of her swearing about the school crisis on Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge - and laughed. And Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said he was ...

  25. Social Media Is a Threat to Privacy, Essay Example

    Introduction Social networking has been a global phenomenon with the proliferation of various social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In many ways, social media has replaced conventional modes of communication such as the telephone and email.