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Searra Conley

Ms. Caruso
UWRT- 1102- 001
June 7th, 2016
Is Social Media Manipulating This Generation?
I have had a social media account for over five years and I have witnessed it expand and
become very popular. Some social media accounts that I have are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest
and Snapchat. Social Media is a convenient source of communication between teenagers and
their friends, but it has been questioned when people like Danny Bowman have committed
suicide because of his fixation of taking selfies (Stein).
Dr. Karrie Lager, a child psychologist in Los Angeles, brought up an intriguing question
from the Huffington Post Is Social Media Dependence A Mental Health Issue, "[does]
excessive internet use causes depression or if teenagers with depression and other psychological
problems more likely to overuse the internet"(Stein)? In the beginning of the article it discusses
the nineteen year old, Danny Bowman, who committed suicide but later on in the reading, it
states that he was O.C.D. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Dr. Bernard Lukin, the President of
the Society for Media Technology & Psychology of the American Psychology of the American
Psychological Association, says "Danny had O.C.D. The vehicle [the obsession] just happened to
be Social Media, if it wasn't that one, it would have been another one. Its a case where O.C.D.
got out of control" (Stein). I would answer Lagers questions with yes and yes, in Danny
Bowmans incident I believe his health status forced him to overuse the internet.

Dr. Charles Sophy, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and Medical Director for the Los Angeles
Department of Children and Family Services, says "...[people] who have become obsessed with
Social Media, using it as a tool to guide their self-esteem and self-worth... [but these are] false
measures, and when reality sets in, anxiety, depression and other psychiatric issues begin to
emerge (Stein). Sophy is siding with Lagers idea of teenagers with depression overuse the
internet, but Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics and adolescent
medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health has a
slight different view, "Social media is a tool; it cannot in and of itself cause a medical illness
(Van Pelt). Moreno is denying that Social Media can cause a medical illness and I disagree
because just like bullying causes depression or car crashes cause injury, social media can have an
effect on people hence the term "cause and effect." Moreno later in the article says, if an
adolescent is experiencing feelings of depression and seeks out media to match those feelings of
depression, then yes, Facebook and other social media can contribute to feelings of depression,
agreeing with Lager, Sophy and Lukin (Van Pelt). I understand and agree that social media is a
tool but I believe this tool is consuming this generation with depression and other mental
issues and is a major cause of teenagers depression.
The Huffington Post article discusses various angles on teenagers mental state in regards
to Social Media. Lager, says Social Media is on the verge of being considered an addiction due
to the similar behavior of "tolerance, withdrawal, unsuccessful attempts to cut back and
impairment in functioning" between internet users and substance abusers (Stein). Why is it
difficult to label social media as an addiction? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds
like a duck, it is indeed a duck, right? I feel like anything can be addictive, I dont understands
Lagers logic behind his reasoning. Dr. Adi Jaffe, who is the Director of Research, Education and

Innovation at Alternatives and has a Ph. D. in psychology, agrees with Lager saying "the
immediacy and reward associated with Social Media can be thought of as a 'quick hit' and would
be expected to result in a minority of users experiencing 'addiction-like' symptoms" (Stein).
Rameet Chawla, a programmer, compared the want of Social Media fame to crack cocaine due to
his experience when his friends were upset with him over his lack of activity to "like" their posts
on Instagram (Stein). I understand that an excessive amount of internet usage is unhealthy and
addictive causing depression, anxiety and self- esteem issues, but what behind the likes makes
teenagers get these mental health problems?
There is an video on ABC News website about Victoria's Secret's new Body by Victoria
line advertisement, that conveys ten slim underwear models with the caption of "The Perfect
'Body'." This ad moved Gabriella Kountoudies and two of her friends to start a Change.org
petition to "change the wording on their advertisement for their bra range Body to something that
does not promote unhealthy and unrealistic standards of beauty..."(Shaw Brown). The petition is
asking for Victoria Secret to "take responsibility for the unhealthy and damaging message that
their wording 'The Perfect Body' sends out to society about women's bodies and how they should
be judged" (Shaw Brown). Also the ad struck controversy on Twitter with users like
@GirlCalledRuth tweeting "its the 21st century and we still have to tell big corporate companies
to stop body image shaming young girls #iamperfect #victoriasecret" and @PICHA_chuu12 "I
don't see why Victoria Secret wants people to think the perfect body is when your ribs are
showing and you are just skin and bones" (Shaw Brown). Along with these critics ABC News'
interviewed body image expert, Sarah Maria, who says "when someone looks at that their
tendency is to measure themselves against that ad" (Shaw Brown). Who is to deem what a
perfect body really looks like? I personally think if women, young girls and even men like the

way they look, they should deem their selves perfect and walk with confidence. For the people
who are insecure, Victorias Secret should be more considerate to, seeing that every company
wants to sale their products to a wide variety of customer, who are slim or on the heavier side, to
increase their revenue. So this ad is not a good marketing strategy. Why does Victoria's Secret's
views concern so many people, they may sale attractive merchandise, but they arent body
experts? Who's to say that Victoria's Secret is even relevant enough to have such an influential
opinion, because of their worldwide customers? The same customers who are angry at their ad?
I believe the people behind the computer screens are causing so much commotion on
social media sites. What is Cyberbullying, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health &
Human Services, gives advice to parents whose children are being cyber bullied. The article
defines cyberbullying as "bullying [by your peers] that takes place using electronic technology...
[which] includes: cell phones computers & tablets as communication tools including Social
Media sites, text message, chat and websites" (What is Cyberbullying?). Some examples of
cyberbulling would be rumors posted on a social networking site or embarrassing pictures and
videos posted (What is Cyberbullying?). Social networking sites like Facebook may not be
technically bullying anyone but with their platform teens aim to be in the spotlight, exposing us
to be judged. Are people intentionally putting themselves at risk of being bullies or body
shaming by being active and freely sharing on social media? Some bullies bully because they are
"overly concern about their popularity and like to dominate others or may be depressed or
anxious, [or] have low self esteem..." (Risk Factors). Risk Factors, was also an article on
StopBullying website, it discusses that "no single factor puts a child at risk of being bullied or
bullying others," so there is not one specific thing that can prevent someone from being bullied
(Risk Factors). "Depending on the environment, some groupssuch as lesbian, gay, bisexual,

or transgendered (LGBT) youth, youth with disabilities, and socially isolated youthmay be at
an increased risk of being bullied" (Risk Factors). Can being true to yourself hurt yourself for
knowing others discriminate against what you stand for and you continue on that path? Should
you have to compromise or change to avoid being bullies?
Teen Self-Esteem Issues discusses "... [T]eenagers dealing with... criticism, peer
pressures....mixed with their own search for self, cause many teens to struggle with self-esteem
issues" (Fisher). Is self-esteem issues unavoidable? Is peer pressure unavoidable? Criticism is not
unavoidable, so must you have an already high self-esteem to avoid getting a low self-esteem?!
If bullies have low self-esteem, who is lowering theirs, bullies of that bully? Do the bullies of the
bully have bullies? Is it a never ending cycle? I personally believe that social media causes some
teens, not all, self-esteem issues, with the help of peer judgement like body-shaming, to lose their
self- morals like confidence and actual friendships and face-to-face communication. I believe
that social media has indeed manipulated this generation into negative thinking, but maybe this
manipulation is just this generations way of becoming new and changing from the past and
forming its own time era?

Work Cited

Fisher, Nathan. Teen Self- Esteem Issues. StudioD. OurEverydayLife.com, n.d. Web. 31 May
2016.
Risk Factors. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Stopbullying.gov, n.d. Web. 31
May 2016.
Stein, Emma. "Is Social Media Dependence A Mental Health Issue?." The Huffington Post.
TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 May 2014. Web. 31 May 2016.
Shaw Brown, Genevieve. Victorias Secret Perfect Body Campaign Draws Social Media
Outrage. ABC News. ABCNews.com, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 May 2016.
Van Pelt, Jennifer. Is Facebook Depression For Real?. Social Work Today.
Socialworktoday.com. n.d. Web. 31 May 2016.
What is Cyberbulling. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Stopbullying.gov, n.d.
Web. 31 May 2016.