Effects of social media on younger generations

By HAYLEY MAJOR

Contributing Writer

Twitter. SnapChat. Instagram. YikYak. These social media outlets prove significant in the lives of the rapidly-growing technological population. What people don’t consider, however, is the possible negative effects social media can have on younger generations. 

“If you take an embarrassing image, you can press delete, but that photo is never gone,” Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Brian Rickman told the Northeast Georgian in response to a recent school scandal. 

According to an article published on Now Habersham, over 20 students at Habersham County middle schools were involved in a sexting affair in early February. Through the popular social media app, SnapChat, students were taking pornographic pictures of themselves and sending them to their classmates. 

The situation spread across three Habersham County middle schools where the photos, specifically those of female students, were “traded like baseball cards,” according to Habersham County police officer Jamie Carter. 

In the article posted on Now Habersham, Carter goes on to say, “Once it started, some of the girls said they would send a picture to one boy who would send the picture to three or four more boys.” 

Because the students involved were all under the age of 18, the pictures qualify as child pornography. Possession of which is a felony. 

No official charges were filed, but the school held several assemblies to address the issue of social media safety and “make sure they understood the part about self-respect,” according to the principle of North Habersham Middle School.

This issue is not exclusive to Habersham County. An article posted on the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “about 20 percent of teen boys and girls have sent such [sext] messages.” 

What causes children to participate in these crude acts? Is it the mere fact that they are exposed to social media at such a young age?

The rapid growth of technology within the last few years has not only caused a widened influence on people of all age groups, but it is also harder to monitor.

“The easy accessibility of the social media can be misused just as any tool can,” says junior English major Jackie Bennett.“These girls unfortunately feel like they need to exploit their bodies to keep guys’ attention.” 

Though this incident paints social media in a bad light, huge benefits are also found through the use of it. Through various sites and apps, people can connect with others across the globe, send and receive information quickly and interact with people on a fairly easy and casual level. 

Senior psychology and criminal justice major Christine Mobley expresses her thoughts on the significance of social media, not just in the lives of middle school students, but young adults as well. 

“Most of us spend a majority of our day checking social media constantly to see what’s being posted and what people are saying. So I think we, in a way, live through that,” said Mobley.  

After the Habersham sexting scandal, teachers, faculty and parents are becoming more active in informing their students and children of the potential dangers that can come of misusing social media, not just now, but for future situations like relationships and careers.