Passing voice, gestures, body language, eye contact,

Passing a note in class, meeting at a skating rink, and talking to friends via a landline now seem to be prehistoric forms of communications.  Today, texting, snapchatting, and tweeting has teens glued to their phones for hours.  Americans check Facebook on their smartphones more than fourteen times per day. Yet, many people are socializing less due to the progression of technology such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  Due to the progression of technology, our social interactions and ability to read social cues have diminished.  Teenagers in the 1980’s were the last generation without any form of social media.  American teenagers today compared to American Teenagers in the 1980’s have a lack of social skills which leads to a lack of happiness and safety.    Teenagers today are losing social cues due to a lack of face to face interaction compared to teenagers in the 1980’s.  “When we interact with others, we are continuously processing wordless signals like facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures, body language, eye contact, and even the physical distance between us and them. They enable us to infer the other person’s intentions, as well as how involved they are in the conversation, whether they are stressed or relaxed, if they are attracted to us, and so on.” (Margalit)  When talking in person, one collects many social skills.  We lack these social skills through social media because we are only exposed to the content of the conversation rather than facial expression, tone of voice, hand gestures, etc.  “There is no better time to experience new things and meet new people than during one’s teenage years. Getting outside, going to social gatherings, and just having a good time with friends are among some of the most productive and satisfying activities in which teenagers can engage. While the Internet can provide a degree of social interaction, online networks and connections cannot replace the benefits of in-person contact.” (Scheff) Teenage years are a time for personal growth.  Being social and having face-to-face interactions help develop social cues and build relationships.  Many social skills are learned through real life experiences as oppose to virtual ones.  The harsh reality of going to a party and having everyone looking at their phones is not an issue 1980’s American teenagers had to face.  The art of face-to-face communication is a skill that will be lost among American Teenagers.  “In basic communication, humans transmit information and receive instant feedback. The integration of texting, messaging and emailing, however, has enabled senders and receivers to sit and dwell before responding. Instagram Stories and Snapchat have changed the game by making messages and content available to view for only 24 hours. In order to remember what was said, or seen, and reply appropriately, the user must reply as soon as they’ve opened it. In effect, these temporary messages take away the ability to dwell and create a more real-time form of communication.” (Willis)  Social media has created a way for people to constantly update and share content with their friends with little effort.  As opposed to communicating face to face and receiving an answer, communicating via cell phone (texting or social media) has allowed humans to think about their responses.  Sometimes a response time can be three seconds or three hours.  If a boy asks you out in person, you have a short period which to respond as opposed to social media where one is able to sit and contemplate if she wants to go on the date and stare at the text for three hours or more.  Social media allows humans to constantly update others on what they are doing.  The rate of depression within teenagers has increased since the 1980’s.  The increase can be linked to a series of factors, however social media stands out in particular because it has become such a large part of American teenagers lives. “All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Admittedly, 10 hours a week is a lot. But those who spend six to nine hours a week on social media are still 47 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who use social media even less. The opposite is true of in-person interactions. Those who spend an above-average amount of time with their friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy than those who hang out for a below-average amount of time.” (Twenge)  Time spent off of social media may be easy for “cool kids” with many friends, however for those who are shy and antisocial this is a developing issue.    “When playing a computer war game, for example, we can experience excitement, frustration and tension, but we can never be injured. In fact, the creators of virtual war games argue that the virtual experience is better than the real one, because the dangers connected to the real experience are removed. In the same way, interactions via social media make visitors feel connected without the difficulties and complexities involved in face-to-face interactions. Compared to interactions with computers, interactions with human counterparts require more emotional involvement, cognitive effort and brain activation. When we are not in the mood to exercise these resources, we too often choose the easier, virtual option.” (Margalit)  Virtual interactions removes the emotions out of a conversation which makes it “easier” for teens to interact with one another because processing emotion consumes energy.  After posting a photo, numerous likes and comments received generates dopamine within a teenagers brain.  Todays American teen “is driven to seek out constant stimuli and reward, says Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology at Temple University. “Things that feel good feel even better when you’re a teenager,” he says. So, although a tablespoon of cinnamon in a teen’s esophagus might be a miserable experience, the page views, likes and favorites that trigger a rush of dopamine after the teen posts the video means the person may not care about the physical pain. “This combination of an easily aroused reward center and still slow to mature self-regulation system is what contributes to a lot of this risky behavior,” Steinberg says. : Dangerous stunts that generate likes and comments make a teen happy.  In the 1980’s teens were doing stupid things for the approval of others, such as driving too fast or doing drugs.  However, now one has a video camera on them at all times, possibly being accessed by future colleges and employers.   But why are teens on social media so much if it makes them unhappy? The motivation for instant gratification, and the idea that bigger and better can achieve happiness, influence what people share on social media sites. So if one sets themselves on fire but receives two thousand “likes” on the video, then the stunt was worth the pain. It takes our brain less than a second to decide whether we want to swipe right or left on a dating profile, simply based off the other individual’s appearance or whether we want to like a friend’s post on Facebook simply based off a picture. If we are not instantly overcome with pleasure then we will simply move on to something that is more gratifying, hence why we “swipe left,” “unfollow,” or “unfriend.” This can lead users to constantly compare themselves to others and think less of their own lives, potentially leading to negative feelings such as jealousy or low self-esteem.  A driving force behind the addiction to social media comes from the positive feedback we receive.  We are always searching for the next post that interests us.  It takes our brain less than a second to decide if we like something…hence the hours spent scrolling through social media trying to find the next great thing.  Teenagers today are safer than teenagers within the 1980’s.  However, teenagers today are not facing the same issues of those within the 1980’s.  Pressures of drinking and drugs have been replaced by pressures to do the latest social media challenge.  “We have more responsibilities because of all the technology that we have,” says Sharon Bayantemur, a 17-year-old student at East Side Community High School in New York City. “People expect more from you because they know you have a cell phone and they can contact you and you have to pick up. Back then you didn’t really have that obligation.” There’s also the anxiety of having the most experimental years of their lives documented online for all to see. They know that mistakes can live forever on the Internet such as that time you dyed your hair or thought those pants would be in style forever. That mentality helps explain why they’re leading the adoption of a new wave of anonymous and private communications platforms, such as Snapchat, YikYak and GroupMe. None of them makes phonecalls anymore, unless it’s an urgent matter. “I don’t even know how to check my voicemail,” says Lukas Castellanos, an 18-year-old at Briarwood who performs theater (Vickerson). American Teens today are faced with more responsibilities with the ownership of technology.  Anything posted online stays there forever.  Colleges and Jobs want access to your social media page, an area where you are supposed to be free to express your true opinion. If your political view or way to unwind on the weekend does not match up with the views of your company, you can be fired.  American Teenager feel different pressures now vs in the 80’s.  Instead of worrying about your parents catching you with alcohol, you have to worry about someone posting a photo of you with alcohol and your college or employer seeing it.  Even though social media keeps you connected, having a large social media presence may not be a good thing.  Today teenagers are “markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.”  Instead of going to a party with friends, teens would rather sit in their rooms communicating with their peers via social media.  The common mindset of many American teenagers is that going out is not fun unless pictures are posted because how will anyone know you are having fun if it’s not recorded. Teens are also influenced by each other.  During the teenage years, a lack of thought and reasoning is present.  Often unaware of the consequences to their actions, teens post dangerous stunts to get a high number of comments or likes.  By earning these likes and comments, teens feel a sense of being accepted by their peers.  “The online dare spread rapidly, and now there are over 4,000 posts on Instagram with the #FireSprayChallenge hashtag. The daring feat is an offshoot of the #FireChallenge, another popular and even more dangerous social media craze that involves dousing oneself with a flammable liquid like rubbing alcohol, then lighting your torso or limbs on fire before jumping into a shower or pool. That challenge has resulted in a seemingly endless stream of reports of teens with third- or fourth-degree burns. Last year, an 11-year-old boy in the U.K. underwent a skin graft after the challenge went terribly wrong. A 15-year-old in Buffalo, New York, died from injuries he suffered after taking the dare. Fire safety divisions in several states have issued emergency warnings about the challenge.  Teenagers post “challenges” on social media in which you get tagged by someone and after completing the challenge, nominate more people.  However, some of these challenges are quite dangerous such as the fire spray challenge in which teenagers spray a can of aerosol into a lighter.  Another popular challenge is the Fire Challenge in which one covers themselves in a flammable liquid and sets themselves on fire before jumping into a pool.  Unfortunately, these challenges are often a hazard to ones health.  The subject of rebellious teenage behavior has long been a topic that intrigues parents.  Attempting to grasp the motives behind the reckless stupidity of teenagers has been a frustrating endeavor for parents since the beginning of time, and many experts believe the internet has made it even worse. In the good old days, parents typically felt they could maintain control over their misbehaving teen simply by limiting the time spent with peers who were a “bad influence.” But thanks to social media, persuasive people with dumb ideas are now omnipresent and a mere click, tap or swipe away. Add in the appeal of 30 seconds of fame, and some teens are willing to try just about anything. In many cases, the more dangerous it is, the better.  Parents are unable to control their children by keeping them inside the house.  By simply looking at a phone screen a teen can be influenced to act out.  Teen rebellion is no longer secluded to blaring loud music or wearing ripped clothes.  The more dangerous your post is, the more followers, likes, and comments you gain. Texting and driving was not an issue that was prevalent with the 1980’s because the technology did not exist.  Teens today are ” more blasé about texting in the car. Said one high-school aged boy: “I think it’s fine … And I wear sunglasses so the cops don’t see my eyes looking down.” Likewise, another high school-aged girl wrote that she texts “all the time,” and that “everybody texts while they drive (…) like when I’m driving by myself I’ll call people or text them ’cause I get bored.” One older high school-aged boy explained that he limits his texting while driving only if his parents are around: “I’m fine with it, just not with my mom and dad in the car. Like when I’m with my brother, I do it.” A group of teens was asked about texting while driving and the majority of the group found it normal.  One boys main concern was the police catching him.  However, a large concern of texting and driving is being unaware and distracted from what is happening around you.  (Madden)  Conclusion. The issue of social media progressing presents many negative aspects such as a lack of happiness, social cues, and safety within today’s teenagers.  Unfortunately, this is something that cannot be stopped.  Teenagers today ” do not know what will come ahead—but, as 50 years of history have shown, that’s part of being a teenager. They’ll enter adulthood under a new President and assume jobs that don’t yet exist. They’ll carry gadgets we haven’t even dreamed up and deal with social problems that haven’t yet broken into the mainstream. They’re going to figure out the future because they have no other choice.  As the progression of social media creates new jobs,  American Teenagers today will be able to work in jobs that haven’t been created yet.” (Luckerson) Social Media has positive and negative aspects. It can serve as a tool to connect people and find information.  The downside is that technology has changed today’s relationships and, as a result, face-to-face interpersonal skills are disappearing among people. At the end of the day, keep in mind what matters most: connecting in person, human touch and lasting, authentic relationships. Don’t get bogged down by the popularity of Facebook statuses or Instagram photos, as that truly can become addicting. Better yet, set aside a specific amount of time per day or per week to unplug from social media or make it a habit to disconnect from technology when you go on a trip or go out to dinner. Maybe even only go on social media via a desktop or laptop and delete the apps from your phone. There are so many ways to prevent the “social media blues”; you just have to create boundaries if you truly want to find happiness.


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