Social Media: Friend or Foe?

By Lilly Martinez

December 20, 2023

There is no doubt that social media is constantly playing a role in most teenagers’ lives. The question is: should it? Should social media be accessible to all teens or should it be removed from their grasp? 

Like all existing things, social media has its positives and negatives; sometimes it’s difficult to weigh them against each other. Is the damage caused by the negatives irreparable or can the positives make up for the wounds? Many feel ambivalent about the construct of social media because of trouble answering that question. 


Communication is a valuable skill for all beings. Humans communicate through verbal, nonverbal, visual, and written cues. For more than 25 years, social media has given us the opportunity to use every one of these tactics in one space. Social media makes the process of staying in touch with others easier, especially for those who are separated by distance. 

Businesses often use social media as a platform to promote their products and services, which can be particularly useful for small businesses who get little to no recognition, or for bigger businesses offering sales to their customers. Social media also gives consumers the opportunity to see all of a business’s products in one space and save time shopping.

Many users of social media utilize their platforms as a way to raise awareness. According to Maryville University, “The use of social media to uplift voices and stories, create awareness… creates a space for organizations, activists, and citizens to demand justice.” While awareness is spread across online platforms, millions of people are being educated on topics they may have known nothing about. 


While social media does have the potential to educate people, it also has a tendency to spread misinformation. This can be detrimental in many situations, such as political elections, protests, health decisions, and personal lives. If the public isn’t hyper-aware of the information they’re filling their heads with, or corroborating with other reliable sources, it could be very destructive in many cases. 

Social media gives people the opportunity to hide their identities and speak freely. This leads to an incredible amount of cyberbullying. The Pew Research Center reported in 2022 that nearly half of the teens in the U.S. have reported being victims of cyberbullying. This creates an emotionally unsafe community online, which can be damaging to individuals of all ages, but especially to highly impressionable teenagers. 

With the population spending more time online and on social media, it creates an immense divide between humankind and the natural world. Often, teenagers will focus on how a photo will look on their social media rather than being present in the moment and appreciating nature. By losing our connection to nature, we in turn lose compassion and respect for the environment, causing irreparable harm. 

So What Now?

Each individual is responsible for choosing what they allow to keep a hold of their focus. Whether that be social media or another time consuming alternative, it’s important to remember the weight of their impacts. Do the negatives outweigh the positives? What is it worth sacrificing? 

It’s critical that if social media stays accessible to teenagers, some aspects need to be altered. Safety, misinformation, and disconnect are only a few of the damaging side effects of social media. How will you contribute to the change?