With the development of modern science and technology and mass media, many new technologies and products have undergone a new round of optimization and upgrading, and these products have rapidly entered the lives of ordinary people and have had a great impact. During the continuous development of human civilization, the era of big data has come into being. The popularity of the Internet has largely met the basic needs of people to adapt to the new era and understand society. The widespread use and rapid development of social platforms have also led to a gradual change in the way people socialize, making their lives more convenient and colorful.
Among all age groups, teenagers are undoubtedly the main users of social media platforms. The emergence of new media has changed the way of life of teenagers and has had a great impact on social life. The emergence of social media has allowed users to browse the Internet at will, no matter where they are in the world. It is undeniable that social media has enriched the way teenagers communicate, brought people closer to each other and made communication and interaction more frequent. The main activity of teenagers on social media platforms is to express themselves and record their lives.
However, it is undeniable that the anonymity of the Internet allows the problem of online violence to be highlighted. In a sense, cyber violence is a new form of the online phenomenon, but it is also an extension of traditional violations on the Internet. The huge space available on the Internet and the lack of systematic and sound legal and regulatory controls in cyberspace allow lawless elements to take advantage of it and wreak havoc on the social platform environment, and if left unchecked, these acts will produce even more horrific and destructive power as the Internet develops further.
According to Hackett (2016), hate speech and online harms mainly originate from cyberbullying, which is one of the problems derived from bullying as society progresses. Hate speech and online harms are invisible forms of violence that exist in the virtual world and are perpetrated by posting hurtful, insulting and Hate speech and online harms are invisible forms of violence that exist in the virtual world, and are committed by posting hurtful, insulting, and inflammatory comments, pictures, videos, and other content online. Cyberbullying stems from prejudice and discrimination in society, especially when it comes to race, religion, sexuality, and gender. Also, young people are more likely to be targeted because of their appearance and sexual orientation.
The impact of hate speech and online harm on people
Currently, social platforms are very powerful Internet tools that allow people to connect with anyone within the social platform and to be bold in their presentation. However, at the same time, it can also become a tool for denigrating and harassing users. Among them, the teenage group is undoubtedly the most affected. Research findings show that 67.7% of teens are influenced by social media (Caner, 2020) and 70% of young people have been or are being victimized by the internet (Hackett, 2016).
In the Japanese drama Mr. Hiiragi’s Homeroom, one of art teacher Ibuki Hiiragi’s students is subjected to a constant barrage of Internet violence, which eventually leads the brilliant girl to end her young life by jumping off a building. The message is theme of the play is “how one word can change someone’s life”, which is also a question we need to think about.
Social network users have become less cautious and less self-disciplined on the Internet, and they disregard social morality and social taboos by abusing, threatening, harassing or publicly humiliating strangers. This is most evident in the youth population. Cyber violence is different from ordinary violence in that it affects the psychological health of adolescents and puts a dramatic increase in additional stress on the youth population. In some extreme cases of cyberbullying, the bully’s personal information, including addresses, phone numbers, and information about relatives and friends, are exposed without the person’s authorization. This behavior can threaten the safety of the bully, invade their privacy, and have a lasting impact on the bully. Prolonged Internet immersion can lead teens to mistakenly believe that this behavior is right, making unformed social perceptions more blurred and distorted. At the same time, online violence can allow the truth to be obscured and drowned out, hindering openness and transparency of information in society.
Social Appearance Anxiety
According to Hackett (2016), adolescents are extraordinarily concerned about the eyes of others and crave for peer approval. Influenced by internet stars and celebrities, adolescents have a deep understanding of the importance of glamour in society, so they will focus more on appearance. Therefore appearance can easily be a reason for bullying, both online and in the real world. The ideal appearance presented by social media can create social appearance anxiety in adolescents exposed to this content, posing a risk to adolescents’ mental health (Caner, 2020).Social appearance anxiety is a form of social anxiety that manifests itself particularly in appearance and body image, and those who suffer from social appearance anxiety is a form of social anxiety, especially in terms of appearance and body size, where people with social appearance anxiety are overly concerned about the negative comments others make about their appearance. More than 40% of adolescents say they worry about their body image when browsing social media (Mental Health Foundation, 2019).
In her prose work Le Deuxième Sexe, the famous French writer Simone de Beauvoir mentions that the more beautiful a woman is, the more respect she will receive; the more she needs to work, the more excellent appearance will be beneficial for her. It is thus clear that most of the evaluation of women in this society is related to their appearance, and the emergence of social platforms has certainly amplified this trend. It makes young women pay more attention to the perfection of their appearance. Teenagers do not have a complete self-concept and are desperate for recognition from others. This psychology forces them to cater to popular aesthetics to gain social acceptance, which to some extent also increases appearance anxiety.
Anastasia Vlasova joined Instagram when she was 13 years old and became obsessed with the perfect bodies of fitness professionals posting on the app. She tried to lose weight by following the methods offered by the webmasters, reducing her food intake, even dieting, and doing more exercise to achieve the perfect weight. However, it came at a price. She began to suffer from irregular periods, anemia, and decreased immune system. This unhealthy approach led to her eventual development of an eating disorder, as well as mental health issues due to the daily stress and anxiety. Regular visits to a psychiatrist were required.
Most of teenagers’ anxiety about their appearance comes from the pressure brought by the Internet. Social media provides people with free and open space for self-expression and technical support for constructing an ideal self. As a result, more and more people are posting various photos online, the most common of which are selfies. Most of the photos posted by users on social media platforms are carefully retouched to present the most perfect self and thus leave a good impression on others. In the process of comparing themselves with other users’ perfect images on the Internet, adolescents’ appearance anxiety is increased. At the same time, negative comment interactions on social media are also highly likely to lead people to look insecure emotions. Teenagers’ appearance anxiety is more due to others’ evaluation than self-perception.
According to Russell (2012), her pre-TED talk survey showed that 53% of 13-year-old American girls don’t like their bodies, rising to 78% by age 17. Russell boldly tells the audience that the real life of a model is not as glamorous as it seems and hopes to reduce social appearance anxiety among teenagers through these actions.
The problem of racism
These behaviors not only affect the physical and mental health of adolescents in a subtle way, but also affect their values in the long run and eventually lead them to delinquency.
In the process of using social media platforms, social media often require users to disclose their identifying information, which may lead to a greater vulnerability to racial discrimination among adolescents using the Internet (Kahn, Spencer & Glaser, 2013 as cited in Tynes, 2015). According to Tynes (2015), 67% of adolescents have experienced at least one incident of racial discrimination. And the most common scenario in which these incidents occur is on social networking sites. The anonymous services of social platforms make teenage users believe that they are not being monitored and are less likely to be identified, which leads them to be more likely to engage in discriminatory behavior than in real life.
The problem of racism is not only reflected in statements made on social media platforms; the Internet is rife with all types of racist activity, including in emails, websites, and even in music and online games. Different forms of media serve different tasks in the spread of racism, and they all have the common purpose of recruiting new members, especially teenagers, for racist groups. Thus, the Internet is an important tool for the dissemination of racist ideas.
For example, the game Ethnic Cleansing. released in 2002, which aims to kill “sub-humans”, namely Negros and Latinos, and their Jewish “masters”, spread racist content on the Internet and use violence to entertain users. In the course of the game, players take on the role of KKK robes or skinheads. By killing blacks and Jews, destroying their houses, and eventually dominating them to achieve victory, the game is filled with racial symbols that constantly spread racist messages to users. In the game, users find identity by teaming up and are convinced that their current situation and concerns are based on race, thus amplifying the conflict between races.
Although the Internet can bring great convenience to people’s lives, excessive use of the Internet and social networking sites can have a negative impact on the lives of youth in many ways. This negative impact can largely lead to psychological, physical, and social problems among adolescents.
In conclusion, although there are many disadvantages of social networking platforms on the Internet, as a new thing under the new wave of technology, the emergence of social networking platforms is in line with the objective law and the trend of historical development, in line with the needs of personal life and social development requirements, and their potential and development prospects are unlimited.
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