Gone are the days where devil worshippers were blamed for every evil that occurred in our world. Now a new malevolence has gripped today’s youth — the addiction to social media.
The standard day for an adolescent typically begins with a quick check of Twitter on their iPhone before hopping out of bed to open up the laptop to see what everyone is wearing to class on Instagram. Then it’s a click to open up Facebook and peruse the latest batch of “selfies” and finally a run over to Tumblr to catch a glimpse of the latest celebrity blog. All of this before breakfast.
The psychologically community has indentified Internet addiction as a valid psychiatric disorder with several classifications. Cyber porn, online affairs and gaming addiction are forms of Internet addiction. The phenomenon of sexting is the newest thrill-seeking venture for adolescents; sending each other sexually explicit photos via cellphone has become popular. For some adults, unfortunately, the craze has had very negative results.
Case in point: former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who served New York’s 9th Congressional District. Weiner thought it would be OK to send pictures of his genitals via Twitter to a woman who was a follower of his. Unfortunately he was busted and later confessed to sending multiple nasty pics to six other women over three years. He later withdrew his membership to Congress.
Another issue that has caused heartbreak and ruined lives is texting and driving. Researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park estimate more than 3,000 annual teen deaths nationwide from texting and 300,000 injuries. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. Distracted drivers are those who engage in actions such as using a cellphone, texting and eating.
Corpus Christi recently passed a city ordinance that prohibits anyone from using his or her cellphone while operating a motor vehicle. The only exception is if the driver is using a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth earpiece. The city implemented this ordinance to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents.
Social media isn’t necessarily bad. Friendships are made and also rekindled and employers seek out candidates for job openings on various social media sites.
According to www.mediabistro.com, 100 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube every minute, 250 billion pictures are loaded onto Facebook daily and 4.2 billion people use mobile devices to access social media.
One issue is the privacy of users. Once a user uploads a picture it is seen by anyone with access to the Internet. One couple recently learned the hard way when they posted pictures of their 6-month-old baby on Instagram. Days later someone used the picture of their child on a pornographic website without their knowledge. Once the mother contacted the administrators of Instagram, the picture was removed from Instagram but the administrators advised her that beyond that action there was not much else they could do. If the perpetrators of this heinous deed used the picture on other sites, Instagram could take no other action.
In this day and age, youth have an instant gratification mentality. They live in the moment — YOLO, or You Only Live Once, has become their creed. This reckless abandon has its consequences that have yet come to light. There is hope that their eyes can be pried away from their screens and the possibility that the real world can illuminate the truth, no matter how hideous it may be. Let’s hope it is not too late.