The Impact of Social Media on the Social Lives of Millennials

The Impact of Social Media on the Social Lives of Millennials

  • Introduction

With the emergence of advanced technology and social media, a large number of millennials have recently experienced major changes in their social lives. The intensity with which the millennials have become attached to social media has reached unprecedented levels, as researchers are now developing the fear that the effects may be unimaginable. Unlike in the previous decades when communication and socialization were difficult, social media has facilitated efficient interaction among the youths, particularly those born between the years 1990 and 2000—commonly referred to as the millennials. With increased levels of connectivity, the group has discovered that technology and social media can make life even more efficient as compared to previous years. In light of the numerous developments, the social media has realized tremendous improvements with common platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter topping the list of the most addictive online products upon which the millennials are spending much of their times. The addictive effects come with considerable effects: negative and positive impacts. Hence, social media has presented both the positive and negative effects to the millennials by influencing their mental health and encouraging them to express their opinions without limitations.

1.1 Problem Statement

This research seeks to investigate the impacts that social media has on the social lives of the millennials. While the social media has been growing in recent times, it has been evolving rapidly; thereby, becoming an integral part of the millennials’ lives (Hilsen & Helvik, 2014). Since social media has a considerable level of addiction, the need to evaluate its impacts on the social lives of the millennials is vital. Furthermore, the group has been noted to be overly concerned with the online social sites as the individuals experience uncontrollable impetus to communicate through social sites, thus, impairing some of their basic life areas (Burnette, Kwitowski, & Mazzeo, 2017). It is, therefore, vital to assess the major impacts that the millennials derive from the use of social media.

1.2 Objective of the Study

  1. To examine the impacts of social media on the social lives of millennials.

1.3 Research Hypotheses

H1: There exists a direct correlation between the use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook; and mental disorders among the millennials.

H2: The emergence of social media has led to the removal of interaction barriers; thereby, significantly helping the millennials express their opinions freely.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. Does the use of social media significantly influence the millennials’ mental health status by causing depression, anxiety, or social isolation?
  2. Do social media substantially influence the millennials’ ability to express their opinions on social matters?

2.0 Literature Review

Teens and young adults have been using social media for health benefits. In their study that sought to understand generation Y (people born between the year 1980 and 1990) and how they use social media, Bolton et al. (2013) noted that there are numerous benefits that youths may derive from the use of social media. In particular, they established that teenagers have been using Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to disseminate health care information to people. The researchers further found out that one of the primary uses of social media among the youths and teens is communication enhancement. It was further established that social media has considerable impacts on the society as it may influence the behavioral variations as well as changes in the social norms. Indeed, social media has substantially influenced the lives of many youths by enabling positive improvement of people’s health.

The use of technology to improve career development has been common in recent years. The technological application is mainly based on skills availability, the need to provide confidentiality, and on funding needs. For effective use of technology in career development, people should conduct a need analysis and provide the necessary support to improve the effectiveness of decision-making process. Besides, it is necessary to train people so that they can profitably apply technology in their career development endeavors. Specifically, the use of several technological features like podcasts, discussion boards, and instant messaging applications have been common in the process of developing carriers (Venable, 2010). While the author acknowledges the numerous benefits of technology especially for career development among students, financial implications are equally noted. Moreover, technology is also believed to undermine the level of privacy for students’ information. Therefore, technology has become beneficial in career development and planning.

The use of mobile phones among the millennials is higher as compared to how adults are using them. On their part, millennials usually use the internet for communication through the short messaging service (SMS) in large numbers. In a study conducted among high school students, it was confirmed that the millennials have been using internet services, particularly the SMS for interaction with their peers. In addition, another reason that motivated students to use the internet for research activities. Students equally applied internet technologies while completing their homework. The study results indicated that 32 students were active internet users because it helped them obtain the most recent news whereas 43 were inspired by research (Akkucuk & Turan, 2016). Based on the study, it is apparent that social media has positive benefits for students because it helps enhance academic improvement.

Socialization improvement has been one of the central uses of social media among the millennials. In a study conducted to establish how different generations use social media, young adults interviewed indicated that they mostly use social media for communication purposes. For social interaction, the respondents interviewed said that they use social media, especially Facebook whenever they wanted to share their success stories with their friends. The use of social media was equally common with young adults who prefer exposing their daily activities to their close confidants. While the younger adults—below 40 years—commonly used social media for interaction purposes, older people who are above 40 years indicated that they mainly use social media while sharing food recipes with their close associates (Hilsen & Helvik, 2014). The study, therefore, demonstrates that different generations use social media for different purposes.

In yet another study that sought to establish whether Facebook has been causing depression to college students, the negative impacts of social media were imminent. According to Tandoc, Ferrucci, and Duffy (2015), young people aged between 18 and 24 are susceptible to depressions as a result of social media use. After surveying 736 students in a quantitative study, the authors found out that Midwestern University college students normally experience joy and contentment after using Facebook. Unfortunately, the platform equally presented negative impacts. For example, it was realized that the use of Facebook exposes students to cyber insecurity in which the privacy of personal information may not be guaranteed. Another negative effect of social media was envy. When students see their friends sharing appealing information or possessions, they develop jealousy hoping to own the same kind of the items shared. Certainly, such feelings may further cause depression to students leading to poor performance.

Social media has many positive impacts on students’ academic performance. In a survey involving 348 undergraduate students, it was discovered that social media may assist students in developing a positive attitude towards their career fields. Unfortunately, within a multitasking environment, the researchers confirmed that the use of social media has a negative influence on the academic performance of students (Lau, 2017). The study coincides with that of Wood, Center, and Parenteau (2016) who contend that social media enables students to observe the desirable performance of their peers, a factor that may discourage poor academic performers. Social media, consequently, has both negative and positive impacts on students.

Social media considerably influences youth mentoring process. In a survey that targeted youths above 18 years in the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand; the investigators found out that social media has an insignificant impact on mentoring process and on the level of relationships (Schwartz et al., 2014). The effects of digital media on the relationship, though, seemed insignificant. Unfortunately, the study relied on email technique as opposed to direct observation. In such a study, it is highly likely that respondents may give biased responses to questions asked. Consequently, it seems that social media may not affect all individuals within a specific age group.

The effects of social media on youths include factors pertaining to psychological well-being. Social media may help students gain self-confidence and help them realize their identity. On the other hand, social media may negatively influence adolescents’ mental health by creating opportunities for cyberbullying, increased hopelessness and social segregation (Best, Manktelow, & Taylor, 2014). A similar study that focused on 7th and 8th-grade students in a Virginian girls’ school confirmed that sharing personal pictures on Instagram, Vine, Snapchat as well as on Pinterest influences how students view themselves concerning beauty (Burnette et al., 2017). Such opportunities may be taken by cybercriminals to bully young girls; thus, cause unnecessary depression.

3.0 The Proposed Methodology

3.1 Research Design

The study will adopt an exploratory method of study. The exploratory technique helps establish specific characteristics and features of a given subject of a study (Kumar, 2015). Similarly, it will entail hypothesis testing with an objective of establishing whether the claim made is true or false. A mixed research design will also be carried out. Specifically, both quantitative and qualitative techniques will be applied.

3.2 Data Sources and Collection 

College students will be interviewed to ascertain their views. Besides, researchers will carry out a personal observation of the respondents. The data collected will entail students’ behaviors based on their social media usage. Students will be required to indicate possible psychological impacts they have developed as a result of the social media use.

3.3 Data Analysis and Interpretation

The data collected will be analyzed using a statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) software. Responses from the interviews conducted will be recorded and scrutinized to eliminate possible inconsistencies. Through the interviews, data will be captured based on whether the use of social media causes mental problems such as depression, anxiety, or social isolation. The number of students who give positive response will be recorded as well as those who indicate lack of mental problems. In addition, the researchers will seek to understand the level at which social media has affected the ability of students to give their opinions through various social network platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Students who consider social media as a way of eliminating barriers to free communication will equally be recorded and analyzed.

  1. Conclusion

The answers given will be analyzed to establish the impact of social media on the social lives of millennials. The proportion of students who will indicate that they do encounter mental problems and the percentage of those who will consider social media as having made it easier to give their opinions will assist the researchers in supporting or invalidating the hypothesis. Therefore, the results will help establish whether social media has offered a mutually-rewarding environment to the millennials or not.

Findings and Discussion

In this study, ten college students (3 males and 7 females) were sampled and interviewed. Other than the two major research questions, the interviews revolved around whether the students use social media frequently, what social media sites or applications they use the most, how long in a day they use the site, and what their motivation is when using the various sites. Other questions that formed part of the interview included how often the students interact with friends through social media, how often they post pictures, how they feel when people like their pictures, whether social media affects their study patterns, how they feel when looking at others’ posts, and whether social media has improved their lives in any way.

The participants gave various responses to the questions posed during the interviews. Participant 1 was a male student aged 22. The participant confirmed that he frequently uses social media and that he commonly uses Instagram and Snapchat. He further stated that he spends an hour on and off throughout the day on social media. Regarding motivational factors, the participant confirmed that he uses social media to promote himself and craft. His line of reasoning was that since he makes music, social media, especially Instagram and Snapchat, allows him to promote himself to the public as a brand and as an artist. He further stated that he interacts with friends occasionally either by meeting them in person or through text. Social media provides a perfect platform where users post pictures. However, participant 1 affirmed that he rarely posts pictures. For the few times he posts pictures, he confirmed that his self-esteem is boosted when people like them. Moreover, the participant stated that the fact that he uses social media hardly affects his studies and that he is not affected in any way when he looks at other people’s posts on social media. Most importantly, the participant confirmed that social media had improved his life, especially from the musical perspective. Participant 2 was a female college student aged 22 as well. The participant agreed that she is a frequent user of social media and that her most preferred social networking site is Instagram. She stated that she spends almost the whole day on Instagram. Her reason for using Instagram was that it allows her to look at soccer players, especially the cute ones. Regarding how often she interacts with friends, the participant stated that she hardly interacts with friends but prefers to call or text whenever she needs to reach or communicate with them. The participant affirmed that she has never posted pictures on Instagram and other social media sites and that even if she did, she would not care if people liked them or not. She added that social media makes her lose focus and forget her assignments. She argued that she often feels nothing towards other people’s posts.

According to participant 3 who was a female college student aged 26, she is a frequent user of social media with her preferred sites being Instagram and Facebook. She confirmed that she spends the whole day on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook. Her motivation for using social media is that it helps to boost readership on her blog. The participants also affirmed that frequently interacts with friends and that she often posts pictures on social media. A common question to social media users is their reaction to when people like their posts or pictures on social media. Regarding this question, the participant argued that she often feels happy and energetic when people like her pictures, and this encourages to do more. She also stated that social media hardly affects her study patterns as other social media users allege. She often feels great when looking at other people’s knowing that she can learn from other people and they can also learn from her. The participant strongly believed that social media has improved her life since she owns a job courtesy of social media in addition to the blog that she runs. Participant 4 was a male college student aged 20. Like all previous participants, he confirmed that he frequently uses social media and that his favorite social networking site is Facebook. The participant went ahead to state that he spends 2-3 hours a day on social media. He affirmed that his greatest motivation to use social media is the news about sports and other forms of entertainment. He stated that he interacts with friends on a daily basis mainly through social media. Regarding posting pictures, the participant indicated that although he posts pictures every couple of months and that he feels nice when people like his posted pictures. He agreed with the statement that social media affects study patterns and that it takes away most of the time he should spend studying. His response to how he feels when looking at other people’s post was that it depends on the person he is looking at. Moreover, he affirmed that despite consuming most of his time, social media has helped him a great deal to improve his life as he can keep in touch with friends.

Participant 5 was a female college student aged 25 and appeared jovial throughout the interview. She did not hesitate to confirm that she is a frequent user of social media sites, especially Instagram. She stated that she spends an hour every day on social media with her primary motivation being entertainment. Regarding her interaction with friends, she stated that she does this every day. She further affirmed that she posts her pictures on social media every month and that she feels okay when people like her posted pictures. She firmly believed that the fact she uses social media hardly affects her study patterns and that she often feels motivated to look at other people’s posts in the event they are positive. The participant asserted that social media has played an integral role in improving her life as she uses the same to quickly find information about others and about what is going on around her. All other five participants 2 of whom were male and 3 females were of the same ages and had similar responses to the questions posed. All of them confirmed that they frequently used social media and that the platforms have played a key role in improving their lives.

Conclusion and Implications

Based on the results of the study it cannot be doubted that social media plays an integral role in society today, particularly in the lives of millennials. Experts argue that the use of social media today has reached unprecedented levels and that it facilitates efficient interaction and communication among youths, particularly the millennials. This is underscored by the study where most participants confirmed that they frequently interact with their friends through social media and other platforms such as calls and texts. Further, based on the study, it can be seen that people have different views and opinions on whether social media affects study patterns and other learning processes. Whereas for some users social media negatively impacts study patterns, it improves the study patterns of others Fatima, Manzoor, Zafar, & Balubaid, 2015). The bottom line is that social media plays an integral role in the lives of millennials who account for a significant percentage of the global population. With millennial numbers fast increasing in learning institutions and workplace contexts, it is becoming necessary for people responsible for integrating social media both in learning institutions and workplaces. Based on the result of this study, people should understand that social media is here to stay and that it will contribute to how information is spread or received. With rapid technological advancement being witnessed in modern society, social media is part of these advancement. As days go by, social media could contribute to economic growth as well with businesses and organizations capitalizing on the same to market their products and services to the ever-increasing number of users (Ackland & Tanaka, 2015). Several questions continue to be raised on the use of social media. For instance, other types of research or studies revolving around issues such as the importance of social media on global economic growth, the impacts of social media on the spread of news or information, or the importance of social media in enhancing social relationships and interactions could be witnessed in the coming years.

 

 

 

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