According to an article by CBS, Social media was launched in 1996, with a site called Six Degrees. We really didn’t see many online users until 2002 with Friendster becoming a hit. Known for a new way in connecting people, soon other platforms joined the ranks. It wasn’t until the “fourth screen” appearing through cellphones and other smart phone tools that we saw social media change in a transcendent way. It provides us with a more interactive environment than we ever imagined, and it transformed the way we share photos and videos with each other. With billions of users now online, it’s also created some privacy issues.
Various platforms now have access to everything about us—whether we know it or not. At times, we unknowingly give these sites access to our camera and microphone without being aware of the background access we’ve granted it. It’s raised the question of whether we’ve given social media too much access to our daily lives and routines. According to this article from Epic, “Too many social media platforms are built on excessive collection, algorithmic processing, and commercial exploitation of users’ personal data.”
We also unknowingly allow our apps to track us for marketing and demographic reasons. Some threats to our privacy come as data mining, phishing attempts, malware attacks, and botnet attacks. If you want to understand more on this topic, this article by Tulane University goes more in depth on some key privacy issues.
Still, social media platforms have been incredible for people to network, and businesses to advertise on. According to this article by Brian Dean, 7.87 billion people in the world use social media, which makes up for 60.99% of the world. With a click of a button, people can see their content travel faster in a more widespread way than ever before. Things can go viral overnight.
With access to so many platforms, it’s easy to see why people spend so much time using social media. According to the Global Web Index and WorldoMeter, the average time per day that a person spends on social media is 2 hours 25 minutes. A fun way to think about it, is that it equates to 5.7 years, or 36.5 days a year.
With social media users growing every day, and with all the time they spend on the apps, it sometimes feels like people are only putting their best reality online. Users now have a creative space where they can curate their page to fit exactly what they want others to see, and it’s not always painting the most accurate picture of their life. There is research done by the American Psychiatric Association that correlates to more time spent on social media and people’s lack of mental health. In fact, HuffPost wrote an article in 2017 that suggested social media has a direct link to user’s experiencing feeling lonely, envious, anxious, and narcissistic. Along with, users feeling like their social skills are decreasing. You can read the article here.
Social media, just like anything else can be beneficial to many, and toxic to others. It’s all about learning how to use it in a way that suits your needs. The most important thing is finding a way that social media can fit into your life without being detrimental to it.