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Thesis Statements about Social Media: 21 Examples and Tips

  • by Judy Jeni
  • January 27, 2024

Writing Thesis Statements Based On Social Media

A thesis statement is a sentence in the introduction paragraph of an essay that captures the purpose of the essay. Using thesis statements about social media as an example, I will guide you on how to write them well.

It can appear anywhere in the first paragraph of the essay but it is mostly preferred when it ends the introduction paragraph. learning how to write a thesis statement for your essay will keep you focused.

A thesis statement can be more than one sentence only when the essay is on complex topics and there is a need to break the statement into two. This means, a good thesis statement structures an essay and tells the reader what an essay is all about.

A good social media thesis statement should be about a specific aspect of social media and not just a broad view of the topic.

The statement should be on the last sentence of the first paragraph and should tell the reader about your stand on the social media issue you are presenting or arguing in the essay.

Reading an essay without a thesis statement is like solving a puzzle. Readers will have to read the conclusion to at least grasp what the essay is all about. It is therefore advisable to craft a thesis immediately after researching an essay.

Throughout your entire writing, every point in every paragraph should connect to the thesis.  In case it doesn’t then probably you have diverged from the main issue of the essay.

How to Write a Thesis Statement?

Writing a thesis statement is important when writing an essay on any topic, not just about social media. It is the key to holding your ideas and arguments together into just one sentence.

The following are tips on how to write a good thesis statement:

Start With a Question and Develop an Answer

writing your thesis

If the question is not provided, come up with your own. Start by deciding the topic and what you would like to find out about it.

Secondly, after doing some initial research on the topic find the answers to the topic that will help and guide the process of researching and writing.

Consequently, if you write a thesis statement that does not provide information about your research topic, you need to construct it again.

Be Specific

The main idea of your essay should be specific. Therefore, the thesis statement of your essay should not be vague. When your thesis statement is too general, the essay will try to incorporate a lot of ideas that can contribute to the loss of focus on the main ideas.

Similarly, specific and narrow thesis statements help concentrate your focus on evidence that supports your essay. In like manner, a specific thesis statement tells the reader directly what to expect in the essay.

Make the Argument Clear

Usually, essays with less than one thousand words require the statement to be clearer. Remember, the length of a thesis statement should be a single sentence, which calls for clarity.

In these short essays, you do not have the freedom to write long paragraphs that provide more information on the topic of the essay.

Likewise, multiple arguments are not accommodated. This is why the thesis statement needs to be clear to inform the reader of what your essay is all about.

If you proofread your essay and notice that the thesis statement is contrary to the points you have focused on, then revise it and make sure that it incorporates the main idea of the essay. Alternatively, when the thesis statement is okay, you will have to rewrite the body of your essay.

Question your Assumptions

thinking about your arguments

Before formulating a thesis statement, ask yourself the basis of the arguments presented in the thesis statement.

Assumptions are what your reader assumes to be true before accepting an argument. Before you start, it is important to be aware of the target audience of your essay.

Thinking about the ways your argument may not hold up to the people who do not subscribe to your viewpoint is crucial.

Alongside, revise the arguments that may not hold up with the people who do not subscribe to your viewpoint.

Take a Strong Stand

A thesis statement should put forward a unique perspective on what your essay is about. Avoid using observations as thesis statements.

In addition, true common facts should be avoided. Make sure that the stance you take can be supported with credible facts and valid reasons.

Equally, don’t provide a summary, make a valid argument. If the first response of the reader is “how” and “why” the thesis statement is too open-ended and not strong enough.

Make Your Thesis Statement Seen

The thesis statement should be what the reader reads at the end of the first paragraph before proceeding to the body of the essay. understanding how to write a thesis statement, leaves your objective summarized.

Positioning may sometimes vary depending on the length of the introduction that the essay requires. However, do not overthink the thesis statement. In addition, do not write it with a lot of clever twists.

Do not exaggerate the stage setting of your argument. Clever and exaggerated thesis statements are weak. Consequently, they are not clear and concise.

Good thesis statements should concentrate on one main idea. Mixing up ideas in a thesis statement makes it vague. Read on how to write an essay thesis as part of the steps to write good essays.

A reader may easily get confused about what the essay is all about if it focuses on a lot of ideas. When your ideas are related, the relation should come out more clearly.

21 Examples of Thesis Statements about Social Media

social media platforms

  • Recently, social media is growing rapidly. Ironically, its use in remote areas has remained relatively low.
  • Social media has revolutionized communication but it is evenly killing it by limiting face-to-face communication.
  • Identically, social media has helped make work easier. However,at the same time it is promoting laziness and irresponsibility in society today.
  • The widespread use of social media and its influence has increased desperation, anxiety, and pressure among young youths.
  • Social media has made learning easier but its addiction can lead to bad grades among university students.
  • As a matter of fact, social media is contributing to the downfall of mainstream media. Many advertisements and news are accessed on social media platforms today.
  • Social media is a major promoter of immorality in society today with many platforms allowing sharing of inappropriate content.
  • Significantly, social media promotes copycat syndrome that positively and negatively impacts the behavior adapted by different users.
  • In this affluent era, social media has made life easy but consequently affects productivity and physical strength.
  • The growth of social media and its ability to reach more people increases growth in today’s business world.
  • The freedom on social media platforms is working against society with the recent increase in hate speech and racism.
  • Lack of proper verification when signing up on social media platforms has increased the number of minors using social media exposing them to cyberbullying and inappropriate content.
  • The freedom of posting anything on social media has landed many in trouble making the need to be cautious before posting anything important.
  • The widespread use of social media has contributed to the rise of insecurity in urban centers
  • Magazines and journals have spearheaded the appreciation of all body types but social media has increased the rate of body shaming in America.
  • To stop abuse on Facebook and Twitter the owners of these social media platforms must track any abusive post and upload and ban the users from accessing the apps.
  • Social media benefits marketing by creating brand recognition, increasing sales, and measuring success with analytics by tracking data.
  • Social media connects people around the globe and fosters new relationships and the sharing of ideas that did not exist before its inception.
  • The increased use of social media has led to the creation of business opportunities for people through social networking, particularly as social media influencers.
  • Learning is convenient through social media as students can connect with education systems and learning groups that make learning convenient.
  • With most people spending most of their free time glued to social media, quality time with family reduces leading to distance relationships and reduced love and closeness.

Judy Jeni

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Social Media & Society is a captivating and relevant research area, encompassing various aspects from interpersonal relations to global communication dynamics. A well-defined thesis statement is pivotal for delineating your research parameters and objectives in this expansive field. Below, you’ll find insightful examples of both good and bad thesis statements on Social Media & Society, accompanied by comprehensive explanations.

Good Thesis Statement Examples

Good: “This thesis evaluates the correlation between prolonged social media usage and increased levels of anxiety and depression among teenagers in the United States.” Bad: “Social media affects teenagers’ mental health.”

The good statement presents a specific correlation, target demographic (teenagers in the U.S.), and identified outcomes (anxiety and depression levels). The bad example, while correct, is vague and lacks defined variables and demographic focus.

Good: “The proliferation of fake news on social media platforms has discernibly influenced political elections, swaying public opinion and voter behavior.” Bad: “Fake news on social media impacts elections.”

The good statement provides a clear, arguable claim regarding fake news, public opinion, and voter behavior on social media. Conversely, the bad example states a general fact without depth or a specific area of impact.

Good: “Implementing educational programs that promote critical digital literacy can mitigate the negative effects of cyberbullying among middle school students.” Bad: “Education can help reduce cyberbullying.”

The good example is researchable and offers specific solutions (critical digital literacy programs), target demographic (middle school students), and defined problem (cyberbullying). The bad statement lacks detail, specific solutions, and target groups.

Bad Thesis Statement Examples

Overly Broad: “Social media has changed the way people communicate.”

Although true, this statement is excessively general and does not specify which aspect of communication or which demographic is being explored.

Lack of Clear Argument: “Social media is popular among young people.”

While factual, this statement lacks a clear argument or specific research focus, rendering it ineffective as a research guide.

Unmeasurable and Unresearchable: “Life is unimaginable without social media today.”

Although many might agree, this statement is not easily measurable or researchable and does not provide clear directions for academic exploration.

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for research in social media and society is crucial for delineating your investigation and elucidating your academic endeavor’s aims and scope. A good thesis statement should be specific, debatable, and researchable, acting as a sturdy foundation for scholarly inquiry. In contrast, a bad thesis statement is often too general, lacks a clear argument, and is not conducive to empirical exploration. The examples and analyses provided in this guide furnish students with valuable insights for developing thesis statements that are academically rigorous and insightful for exploring the intricate relationship between social media and society.

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Thesis Statement About Social Media

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Published: Mar 5, 2024

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How Social Networking Can Ruin Your Life: Negative Effects of Social Media

How Social Networking Can Ruin Your Life: Negative Effects of Social Media essay

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Why is social media bad for mental health, why social media is bad: a conclusion.

  • Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive Medicine Reports, 15, 100928. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2019.100928
  • Lin, L. Y., Sidani, J. E., Shensa, A., Radovic, A., Miller, E., Colditz, J. B., ... & Primack, B. A. (2016). Association between social media use and depression among US young adults. Depression and Anxiety, 33(4), 323-331. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22466
  • Rosen, L. D., Whaling, K., Carrier, L. M., Cheever, N. A., & Rokkum, J. (2013). The media and technology usage and attitudes scale: An empirical investigation. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(6), 2501-2511. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.07.009
  • Kross, E., Verduyn, P., Demiralp, E., Park, J., Lee, D. S., Lin, N., ... & Ybarra, O. (2013). Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults. PloS one, 8(8), e69841. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069841
  • Turel, O., & Qahri-Saremi, H. (2016). Problematic use of social media: Antecedents and consequences. Information Systems Journal, 26(2), 99-118. https://doi.org/10.1111/isj.12082

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School Life Diaries

Crafting A Thesis Statement About Social Media: Tips And Tricks

Thesis Statement About Social Media

With the rise of online platforms and thesis statement social media in our lives, students and teachers alike are increasingly asking questions about whether or not this technology is beneficial to academic performance. While it can be argued that there are both pros and cons to using social media. Many studies now show how integrating different forms of social media into classroom-based teaching can have tremendous positive benefits such as promoting greater collaboration between peers.

Asynchronous learning opportunities for a wider variety of topics, increased engagement among students to participate in activities related to areas of study, improved access to resources outside the textbook, as well as an overall boost in communication with all stakeholders involved within any given educational setting. In this blog post, we will explore these topics and provide a thesis statement about the impacts that social media has today on modern education.

How To Write a Thesis Statement About Social Media?

1. understand the topic:.

Before attempting to write a thesis statement on social media, it is important to understand the topic. In this case, you need to familiarize yourself with what social media is and what aspects are associated with it. Researching different sources such as news articles, blogs, and academic papers can help provide insight into the topic.

2. Brainstorm Potential Ideas:

After gaining an understanding of the topic, you should brainstorm potential ideas for your thesis statement. Think about what information you found during your research and develop a few statements that capture the essence of it. It is also useful to consider any questions or opinions you have on the subject matter.

3. Refine the Ideas:

Once you have a few potential ideas for your thesis statement, it is time to narrow them down. Evaluate each idea and determine which one best encapsulates the points you want to make about social media. Re-write this statement in its strongest form and consider how it can be further refined.

4. Finalize Your Thesis Statement:

After you have thoroughly examined each idea, you can finalize your thesis statement. Make sure it accurately reflects the points you want to make about social media and that it is written in a clear and concise manner. Once this is done, your thesis statement on social media will be complete.

5. Support Your Thesis Statement:

To make your thesis statement even stronger, it is important to provide evidence and support for your claims. This may involve conducting additional research or gathering statistics that back up what you are saying. Doing this will create a well-rounded argument and help communicate the message of the thesis statement more effectively.

6. Revise and Edit:

The final step in writing your thesis statement is to revise and edit it. Read through the statement several times, paying attention to spelling, grammar, and syntax. You can also ask someone else to read over it as well to ensure that it is clear and accurate. Once everything has been checked, your thesis statement on social media is ready to be presented.

What Is a Social Media Thesis Statement?

A Social Media Thesis Statement is a statement that expresses the key idea of an argument about the influence of social media platforms on modern society. It could be argued that social media has had both positive and negative impacts on people, from creating new opportunities for communication and connection to contributing to issues like cyberbullying, addiction, and data security.

The overall effect of social media on our lives is still unclear and needs further exploration. This thesis statement serves as a starting point for further research into the role of social media in today’s society. Through exploring the effects of social media on individuals, communities, and even global society, we can gain insight into how these platforms are shaping the world we live in.

What Are Social Networks On The Internet?

Social networks on the Internet are online platforms that allow individuals to connect and interact with one another in a virtual space. These networks often involve user profiles, friends lists, and other features that allow users to post content such as photos, text, and videos. Many social networks allow users to comment on others’ posts, join groups, and join conversations.

The use of social networks has become a popular part of everyday life, providing users with a convenient way to stay connected and share information. From personal connections to professional opportunities, these networks offer various benefits that can be utilized by both individuals and businesses.

Do We Know Where Social Networks Originate?

Social networks have become an increasingly popular way of connecting with people all over the world, allowing us to communicate with friends, family, and acquaintances. However, it can be difficult to determine the exact origin of these networks.

The first concept resembling a social network was Six Degrees, which was created by Andrew Weinreich in 1996. This website allowed users to create a profile and connect with other users, as well as find people from around the world. It was successful for a while but eventually failed due to legal issues and a lack of funding.

In 1997, Classmates.com was launched, allowing users to search for former classmates and make connections with them. This was the beginning of social networks becoming an integral part of our lives. Soon after, other popular networks emerged such as Friendster in 2002, LinkedIn in 2003, and MySpace in 2004. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Networks On The Internet

Advantages of social networks on the internet.

1. Social networks on the internet provide unprecedented levels of connectivity, allowing users to easily interact with each other regardless of geographical location.

2. Social networks can be used to build communities and create conversations around particular topics or ideas.

3. Many social networks have also opened up their platforms to entrepreneurs, allowing small businesses to have the opportunity to market their products and services more effectively.

4. While social networks do offer many benefits, it is important that users remain cautious when using them.

5. Social networks can provide many opportunities for people to make connections, learn about new topics, and gain insight into different perspectives.

Disadvantages of Social Networks On The Internet

1. Excessive personal information sharing can lead to identity theft and fraud.

2. Unregulated content can be misleading or inappropriate for younger viewers.

3. Connecting with strangers online can put users at risk for cyberbullying, scams, and other malicious acts.

4. Increased distractions from social media use can negatively impact school performance and work productivity.

5. Addiction to social networking sites is common among users, leading to a lack of balance between online/offline relationships and activities.

How To Write A Good Social Media Essay?

1. Choose a topic that interests you and your audience

2. Do extensive research to understand the subject better

3. Brainstorm ideas

4. Outline the essay structure

5. Write an attention-grabbing introduction

6. Create well-structured paragraphs with clear arguments supported by evidence

7. Incorporate visuals (e.g., images, videos, gifs) where appropriate to keep readers engaged

8. Make sure your content is relevant and up-to-date according to social media trends

9. End with a strong conclusion summarizing the main points

10. Proofread for grammar and formatting errors before posting.

Social Media Essay Outline

1. introduction:.

The introduction should provide a brief overview of the topic, explaining what social media is and why it is important in our lives today. It should also introduce the main points to be discussed in the essay and provide an overview of relevant research that has been done. The Introduction should conclude with a clearly defined thesis statement.

2. Thesis Statement:

The purpose of this essay is to explore the effects that social media has had on our lives, both positive and negative, and to provide insight into how we can use it in constructive ways.

The body of the essay should begin by looking at the positives of social media, such as its ability to connect people across the globe and how it can be used to share ideas. It should discuss how social media has created new opportunities for businesses and organizations to reach a wider audience and how it can be used to raise awareness about important issues.

4. Conclusion:

In conclusion, although there are both positives and negatives associated with social media, it is clear that used in the right way it can be an incredibly useful and powerful tool for communication. With a few simple steps, such as using proper caution when consuming information and taking breaks from constant use, anyone can enjoy the benefits of this technology without many of its potential drawbacks.

21 Examples of Thesis Statements About Social Media

1. For individuals, social media can be both a blessing and a curse; it provides a platform for increased connectivity, but can also create or exacerbate feelings of loneliness and depression.

2. Social media has been associated with the rise of “echo chambers” that limit the diversity of perspectives people encounter.

3. Social media can also have a serious impact on mental health, as users are exposed to a barrage of both positive and negative information all at once.

4. It is important for individuals to be conscious of their own use of social media, as well as that of others in order to minimize any potential risks associated with it.

5. Setting limits on time spent online, engaging in meaningful conversations, and taking a break from social media can help to reduce any potential negative effects of its use.

6. It is also important to remember that the content posted on social media does not always reflect the reality of people’s lives.

7. It is crucial to remain mindful of what we see on social media and understand its potential impact on our own mental health.

8. We can ensure a safe and healthy online environment for ourselves and those around us.

9. Social media can be an amazing tool to maintain relationships and foster meaningful dialogue, but it is important to keep in mind the potential pitfalls associated with its use.

10. We can make sure that our experiences on social media are both positive and productive.

11. By understanding the potential risks and actively managing our own use of social media, we can ensure that it remains a force for good in our lives.

12. Through increased self-awareness and mindfulness, we can make sure to get the most out of our interactions on social media while avoiding any potential negative effects.

13. It is important to remember that social media should use in moderation and with care so that it can continue to have a positive impact on the lives of its users.

14. By remaining aware of our own use and encouraging others to do the same, we can ensure that social media remains a safe and healthy space for all.

15. It is important to remember the potential benefits and pitfalls of social media and make sure to use it responsibly.

16. We can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone who uses it

17. Social media can also be a powerful tool for spreading awareness and promoting positive change in the world.

18. Social media can use to advocate for causes that matter and amplify the voices of those who are often unheard.

19. Through thoughtful engagement and meaningful conversations, we can use social media as a platform to create positive change in the world.

20. When used responsibly, social media can be an invaluable tool to help us build better communities and create a more just and equitable world.

21. By understanding the potential impacts of using social media and taking steps to ensure responsible use, we can make sure that it remains a force for good in our lives.

Related Article: Term Paper: Structure And Tips For Writing A Successful Paper

Conclusion:

As we can see from this study, students who use social media in an educational setting perform better than those who don’t. This is likely because social media provides a more engaging and interactive learning environment. While there are many potential benefits to incorporating social media into instruction, such as promoting collaboration and interaction among students.

There are also some challenges that need to take into account, such as managing student screen time and ensuring online safety. If you’re a teacher, consider incorporating social media into your lesson plans. And if you’re a student, be sure to take advantage of the resources that social media has to offer.

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How Harmful Is Social Media?

By Gideon Lewis-Kraus

A socialmedia battlefield

In April, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt published an essay in The Atlantic in which he sought to explain, as the piece’s title had it, “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid.” Anyone familiar with Haidt’s work in the past half decade could have anticipated his answer: social media. Although Haidt concedes that political polarization and factional enmity long predate the rise of the platforms, and that there are plenty of other factors involved, he believes that the tools of virality—Facebook’s Like and Share buttons, Twitter’s Retweet function—have algorithmically and irrevocably corroded public life. He has determined that a great historical discontinuity can be dated with some precision to the period between 2010 and 2014, when these features became widely available on phones.

“What changed in the 2010s?” Haidt asks, reminding his audience that a former Twitter developer had once compared the Retweet button to the provision of a four-year-old with a loaded weapon. “A mean tweet doesn’t kill anyone; it is an attempt to shame or punish someone publicly while broadcasting one’s own virtue, brilliance, or tribal loyalties. It’s more a dart than a bullet, causing pain but no fatalities. Even so, from 2009 to 2012, Facebook and Twitter passed out roughly a billion dart guns globally. We’ve been shooting one another ever since.” While the right has thrived on conspiracy-mongering and misinformation, the left has turned punitive: “When everyone was issued a dart gun in the early 2010s, many left-leaning institutions began shooting themselves in the brain. And, unfortunately, those were the brains that inform, instruct, and entertain most of the country.” Haidt’s prevailing metaphor of thoroughgoing fragmentation is the story of the Tower of Babel: the rise of social media has “unwittingly dissolved the mortar of trust, belief in institutions, and shared stories that had held a large and diverse secular democracy together.”

These are, needless to say, common concerns. Chief among Haidt’s worries is that use of social media has left us particularly vulnerable to confirmation bias, or the propensity to fix upon evidence that shores up our prior beliefs. Haidt acknowledges that the extant literature on social media’s effects is large and complex, and that there is something in it for everyone. On January 6, 2021, he was on the phone with Chris Bail, a sociologist at Duke and the author of the recent book “ Breaking the Social Media Prism ,” when Bail urged him to turn on the television. Two weeks later, Haidt wrote to Bail, expressing his frustration at the way Facebook officials consistently cited the same handful of studies in their defense. He suggested that the two of them collaborate on a comprehensive literature review that they could share, as a Google Doc, with other researchers. (Haidt had experimented with such a model before.) Bail was cautious. He told me, “What I said to him was, ‘Well, you know, I’m not sure the research is going to bear out your version of the story,’ and he said, ‘Why don’t we see?’ ”

Bail emphasized that he is not a “platform-basher.” He added, “In my book, my main take is, Yes, the platforms play a role, but we are greatly exaggerating what it’s possible for them to do—how much they could change things no matter who’s at the helm at these companies—and we’re profoundly underestimating the human element, the motivation of users.” He found Haidt’s idea of a Google Doc appealing, in the way that it would produce a kind of living document that existed “somewhere between scholarship and public writing.” Haidt was eager for a forum to test his ideas. “I decided that if I was going to be writing about this—what changed in the universe, around 2014, when things got weird on campus and elsewhere—once again, I’d better be confident I’m right,” he said. “I can’t just go off my feelings and my readings of the biased literature. We all suffer from confirmation bias, and the only cure is other people who don’t share your own.”

Haidt and Bail, along with a research assistant, populated the document over the course of several weeks last year, and in November they invited about two dozen scholars to contribute. Haidt told me, of the difficulties of social-scientific methodology, “When you first approach a question, you don’t even know what it is. ‘Is social media destroying democracy, yes or no?’ That’s not a good question. You can’t answer that question. So what can you ask and answer?” As the document took on a life of its own, tractable rubrics emerged—Does social media make people angrier or more affectively polarized? Does it create political echo chambers? Does it increase the probability of violence? Does it enable foreign governments to increase political dysfunction in the United States and other democracies? Haidt continued, “It’s only after you break it up into lots of answerable questions that you see where the complexity lies.”

Haidt came away with the sense, on balance, that social media was in fact pretty bad. He was disappointed, but not surprised, that Facebook’s response to his article relied on the same three studies they’ve been reciting for years. “This is something you see with breakfast cereals,” he said, noting that a cereal company “might say, ‘Did you know we have twenty-five per cent more riboflavin than the leading brand?’ They’ll point to features where the evidence is in their favor, which distracts you from the over-all fact that your cereal tastes worse and is less healthy.”

After Haidt’s piece was published, the Google Doc—“Social Media and Political Dysfunction: A Collaborative Review”—was made available to the public . Comments piled up, and a new section was added, at the end, to include a miscellany of Twitter threads and Substack essays that appeared in response to Haidt’s interpretation of the evidence. Some colleagues and kibbitzers agreed with Haidt. But others, though they might have shared his basic intuition that something in our experience of social media was amiss, drew upon the same data set to reach less definitive conclusions, or even mildly contradictory ones. Even after the initial flurry of responses to Haidt’s article disappeared into social-media memory, the document, insofar as it captured the state of the social-media debate, remained a lively artifact.

Near the end of the collaborative project’s introduction, the authors warn, “We caution readers not to simply add up the number of studies on each side and declare one side the winner.” The document runs to more than a hundred and fifty pages, and for each question there are affirmative and dissenting studies, as well as some that indicate mixed results. According to one paper, “Political expressions on social media and the online forum were found to (a) reinforce the expressers’ partisan thought process and (b) harden their pre-existing political preferences,” but, according to another, which used data collected during the 2016 election, “Over the course of the campaign, we found media use and attitudes remained relatively stable. Our results also showed that Facebook news use was related to modest over-time spiral of depolarization. Furthermore, we found that people who use Facebook for news were more likely to view both pro- and counter-attitudinal news in each wave. Our results indicated that counter-attitudinal exposure increased over time, which resulted in depolarization.” If results like these seem incompatible, a perplexed reader is given recourse to a study that says, “Our findings indicate that political polarization on social media cannot be conceptualized as a unified phenomenon, as there are significant cross-platform differences.”

Interested in echo chambers? “Our results show that the aggregation of users in homophilic clusters dominate online interactions on Facebook and Twitter,” which seems convincing—except that, as another team has it, “We do not find evidence supporting a strong characterization of ‘echo chambers’ in which the majority of people’s sources of news are mutually exclusive and from opposite poles.” By the end of the file, the vaguely patronizing top-line recommendation against simple summation begins to make more sense. A document that originated as a bulwark against confirmation bias could, as it turned out, just as easily function as a kind of generative device to support anybody’s pet conviction. The only sane response, it seemed, was simply to throw one’s hands in the air.

When I spoke to some of the researchers whose work had been included, I found a combination of broad, visceral unease with the current situation—with the banefulness of harassment and trolling; with the opacity of the platforms; with, well, the widespread presentiment that of course social media is in many ways bad—and a contrastive sense that it might not be catastrophically bad in some of the specific ways that many of us have come to take for granted as true. This was not mere contrarianism, and there was no trace of gleeful mythbusting; the issue was important enough to get right. When I told Bail that the upshot seemed to me to be that exactly nothing was unambiguously clear, he suggested that there was at least some firm ground. He sounded a bit less apocalyptic than Haidt.

“A lot of the stories out there are just wrong,” he told me. “The political echo chamber has been massively overstated. Maybe it’s three to five per cent of people who are properly in an echo chamber.” Echo chambers, as hotboxes of confirmation bias, are counterproductive for democracy. But research indicates that most of us are actually exposed to a wider range of views on social media than we are in real life, where our social networks—in the original use of the term—are rarely heterogeneous. (Haidt told me that this was an issue on which the Google Doc changed his mind; he became convinced that echo chambers probably aren’t as widespread a problem as he’d once imagined.) And too much of a focus on our intuitions about social media’s echo-chamber effect could obscure the relevant counterfactual: a conservative might abandon Twitter only to watch more Fox News. “Stepping outside your echo chamber is supposed to make you moderate, but maybe it makes you more extreme,” Bail said. The research is inchoate and ongoing, and it’s difficult to say anything on the topic with absolute certainty. But this was, in part, Bail’s point: we ought to be less sure about the particular impacts of social media.

Bail went on, “The second story is foreign misinformation.” It’s not that misinformation doesn’t exist, or that it hasn’t had indirect effects, especially when it creates perverse incentives for the mainstream media to cover stories circulating online. Haidt also draws convincingly upon the work of Renée DiResta, the research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, to sketch out a potential future in which the work of shitposting has been outsourced to artificial intelligence, further polluting the informational environment. But, at least so far, very few Americans seem to suffer from consistent exposure to fake news—“probably less than two per cent of Twitter users, maybe fewer now, and for those who were it didn’t change their opinions,” Bail said. This was probably because the people likeliest to consume such spectacles were the sort of people primed to believe them in the first place. “In fact,” he said, “echo chambers might have done something to quarantine that misinformation.”

The final story that Bail wanted to discuss was the “proverbial rabbit hole, the path to algorithmic radicalization,” by which YouTube might serve a viewer increasingly extreme videos. There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that this does happen, at least on occasion, and such anecdotes are alarming to hear. But a new working paper led by Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth, found that almost all extremist content is either consumed by subscribers to the relevant channels—a sign of actual demand rather than manipulation or preference falsification—or encountered via links from external sites. It’s easy to see why we might prefer if this were not the case: algorithmic radicalization is presumably a simpler problem to solve than the fact that there are people who deliberately seek out vile content. “These are the three stories—echo chambers, foreign influence campaigns, and radicalizing recommendation algorithms—but, when you look at the literature, they’ve all been overstated.” He thought that these findings were crucial for us to assimilate, if only to help us understand that our problems may lie beyond technocratic tinkering. He explained, “Part of my interest in getting this research out there is to demonstrate that everybody is waiting for an Elon Musk to ride in and save us with an algorithm”—or, presumably, the reverse—“and it’s just not going to happen.”

When I spoke with Nyhan, he told me much the same thing: “The most credible research is way out of line with the takes.” He noted, of extremist content and misinformation, that reliable research that “measures exposure to these things finds that the people consuming this content are small minorities who have extreme views already.” The problem with the bulk of the earlier research, Nyhan told me, is that it’s almost all correlational. “Many of these studies will find polarization on social media,” he said. “But that might just be the society we live in reflected on social media!” He hastened to add, “Not that this is untroubling, and none of this is to let these companies, which are exercising a lot of power with very little scrutiny, off the hook. But a lot of the criticisms of them are very poorly founded. . . . The expansion of Internet access coincides with fifteen other trends over time, and separating them is very difficult. The lack of good data is a huge problem insofar as it lets people project their own fears into this area.” He told me, “It’s hard to weigh in on the side of ‘We don’t know, the evidence is weak,’ because those points are always going to be drowned out in our discourse. But these arguments are systematically underprovided in the public domain.”

In his Atlantic article, Haidt leans on a working paper by two social scientists, Philipp Lorenz-Spreen and Lisa Oswald, who took on a comprehensive meta-analysis of about five hundred papers and concluded that “the large majority of reported associations between digital media use and trust appear to be detrimental for democracy.” Haidt writes, “The literature is complex—some studies show benefits, particularly in less developed democracies—but the review found that, on balance, social media amplifies political polarization; foments populism, especially right-wing populism; and is associated with the spread of misinformation.” Nyhan was less convinced that the meta-analysis supported such categorical verdicts, especially once you bracketed the kinds of correlational findings that might simply mirror social and political dynamics. He told me, “If you look at their summary of studies that allow for causal inferences—it’s very mixed.”

As for the studies Nyhan considered most methodologically sound, he pointed to a 2020 article called “The Welfare Effects of Social Media,” by Hunt Allcott, Luca Braghieri, Sarah Eichmeyer, and Matthew Gentzkow. For four weeks prior to the 2018 midterm elections, the authors randomly divided a group of volunteers into two cohorts—one that continued to use Facebook as usual, and another that was paid to deactivate their accounts for that period. They found that deactivation “(i) reduced online activity, while increasing offline activities such as watching TV alone and socializing with family and friends; (ii) reduced both factual news knowledge and political polarization; (iii) increased subjective well-being; and (iv) caused a large persistent reduction in post-experiment Facebook use.” But Gentzkow reminded me that his conclusions, including that Facebook may slightly increase polarization, had to be heavily qualified: “From other kinds of evidence, I think there’s reason to think social media is not the main driver of increasing polarization over the long haul in the United States.”

In the book “ Why We’re Polarized ,” for example, Ezra Klein invokes the work of such scholars as Lilliana Mason to argue that the roots of polarization might be found in, among other factors, the political realignment and nationalization that began in the sixties, and were then sacralized, on the right, by the rise of talk radio and cable news. These dynamics have served to flatten our political identities, weakening our ability or inclination to find compromise. Insofar as some forms of social media encourage the hardening of connections between our identities and a narrow set of opinions, we might increasingly self-select into mutually incomprehensible and hostile groups; Haidt plausibly suggests that these processes are accelerated by the coalescence of social-media tribes around figures of fearful online charisma. “Social media might be more of an amplifier of other things going on rather than a major driver independently,” Gentzkow argued. “I think it takes some gymnastics to tell a story where it’s all primarily driven by social media, especially when you’re looking at different countries, and across different groups.”

Another study, led by Nejla Asimovic and Joshua Tucker, replicated Gentzkow’s approach in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they found almost precisely the opposite results: the people who stayed on Facebook were, by the end of the study, more positively disposed to their historic out-groups. The authors’ interpretation was that ethnic groups have so little contact in Bosnia that, for some people, social media is essentially the only place where they can form positive images of one another. “To have a replication and have the signs flip like that, it’s pretty stunning,” Bail told me. “It’s a different conversation in every part of the world.”

Nyhan argued that, at least in wealthy Western countries, we might be too heavily discounting the degree to which platforms have responded to criticism: “Everyone is still operating under the view that algorithms simply maximize engagement in a short-term way” with minimal attention to potential externalities. “That might’ve been true when Zuckerberg had seven people working for him, but there are a lot of considerations that go into these rankings now.” He added, “There’s some evidence that, with reverse-chronological feeds”—streams of unwashed content, which some critics argue are less manipulative than algorithmic curation—“people get exposed to more low-quality content, so it’s another case where a very simple notion of ‘algorithms are bad’ doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. It doesn’t mean they’re good, it’s just that we don’t know.”

Bail told me that, over all, he was less confident than Haidt that the available evidence lines up clearly against the platforms. “Maybe there’s a slight majority of studies that say that social media is a net negative, at least in the West, and maybe it’s doing some good in the rest of the world.” But, he noted, “Jon will say that science has this expectation of rigor that can’t keep up with the need in the real world—that even if we don’t have the definitive study that creates the historical counterfactual that Facebook is largely responsible for polarization in the U.S., there’s still a lot pointing in that direction, and I think that’s a fair point.” He paused. “It can’t all be randomized control trials.”

Haidt comes across in conversation as searching and sincere, and, during our exchange, he paused several times to suggest that I include a quote from John Stuart Mill on the importance of good-faith debate to moral progress. In that spirit, I asked him what he thought of the argument, elaborated by some of Haidt’s critics, that the problems he described are fundamentally political, social, and economic, and that to blame social media is to search for lost keys under the streetlamp, where the light is better. He agreed that this was the steelman opponent: there were predecessors for cancel culture in de Tocqueville, and anxiety about new media that went back to the time of the printing press. “This is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis, and it’s absolutely up to the prosecution—people like me—to argue that, no, this time it’s different. But it’s a civil case! The evidential standard is not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ as in a criminal case. It’s just a preponderance of the evidence.”

The way scholars weigh the testimony is subject to their disciplinary orientations. Economists and political scientists tend to believe that you can’t even begin to talk about causal dynamics without a randomized controlled trial, whereas sociologists and psychologists are more comfortable drawing inferences on a correlational basis. Haidt believes that conditions are too dire to take the hardheaded, no-reasonable-doubt view. “The preponderance of the evidence is what we use in public health. If there’s an epidemic—when COVID started, suppose all the scientists had said, ‘No, we gotta be so certain before you do anything’? We have to think about what’s actually happening, what’s likeliest to pay off.” He continued, “We have the largest epidemic ever of teen mental health, and there is no other explanation,” he said. “It is a raging public-health epidemic, and the kids themselves say Instagram did it, and we have some evidence, so is it appropriate to say, ‘Nah, you haven’t proven it’?”

This was his attitude across the board. He argued that social media seemed to aggrandize inflammatory posts and to be correlated with a rise in violence; even if only small groups were exposed to fake news, such beliefs might still proliferate in ways that were hard to measure. “In the post-Babel era, what matters is not the average but the dynamics, the contagion, the exponential amplification,” he said. “Small things can grow very quickly, so arguments that Russian disinformation didn’t matter are like COVID arguments that people coming in from China didn’t have contact with a lot of people.” Given the transformative effects of social media, Haidt insisted, it was important to act now, even in the absence of dispositive evidence. “Academic debates play out over decades and are often never resolved, whereas the social-media environment changes year by year,” he said. “We don’t have the luxury of waiting around five or ten years for literature reviews.”

Haidt could be accused of question-begging—of assuming the existence of a crisis that the research might or might not ultimately underwrite. Still, the gap between the two sides in this case might not be quite as wide as Haidt thinks. Skeptics of his strongest claims are not saying that there’s no there there. Just because the average YouTube user is unlikely to be led to Stormfront videos, Nyhan told me, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry that some people are watching Stormfront videos; just because echo chambers and foreign misinformation seem to have had effects only at the margins, Gentzkow said, doesn’t mean they’re entirely irrelevant. “There are many questions here where the thing we as researchers are interested in is how social media affects the average person,” Gentzkow told me. “There’s a different set of questions where all you need is a small number of people to change—questions about ethnic violence in Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, people on YouTube mobilized to do mass shootings. Much of the evidence broadly makes me skeptical that the average effects are as big as the public discussion thinks they are, but I also think there are cases where a small number of people with very extreme views are able to find each other and connect and act.” He added, “That’s where many of the things I’d be most concerned about lie.”

The same might be said about any phenomenon where the base rate is very low but the stakes are very high, such as teen suicide. “It’s another case where those rare edge cases in terms of total social harm may be enormous. You don’t need many teen-age kids to decide to kill themselves or have serious mental-health outcomes in order for the social harm to be really big.” He added, “Almost none of this work is able to get at those edge-case effects, and we have to be careful that if we do establish that the average effect of something is zero, or small, that it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be worried about it—because we might be missing those extremes.” Jaime Settle, a scholar of political behavior at the College of William & Mary and the author of the book “ Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America ,” noted that Haidt is “farther along the spectrum of what most academics who study this stuff are going to say we have strong evidence for.” But she understood his impulse: “We do have serious problems, and I’m glad Jon wrote the piece, and down the road I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a fuller handle on the role of social media in all of this—there are definitely ways in which social media has changed our politics for the worse.”

It’s tempting to sidestep the question of diagnosis entirely, and to evaluate Haidt’s essay not on the basis of predictive accuracy—whether social media will lead to the destruction of American democracy—but as a set of proposals for what we might do better. If he is wrong, how much damage are his prescriptions likely to do? Haidt, to his great credit, does not indulge in any wishful thinking, and if his diagnosis is largely technological his prescriptions are sociopolitical. Two of his three major suggestions seem useful and have nothing to do with social media: he thinks that we should end closed primaries and that children should be given wide latitude for unsupervised play. His recommendations for social-media reform are, for the most part, uncontroversial: he believes that preteens shouldn’t be on Instagram and that platforms should share their data with outside researchers—proposals that are both likely to be beneficial and not very costly.

It remains possible, however, that the true costs of social-media anxieties are harder to tabulate. Gentzkow told me that, for the period between 2016 and 2020, the direct effects of misinformation were difficult to discern. “But it might have had a much larger effect because we got so worried about it—a broader impact on trust,” he said. “Even if not that many people were exposed, the narrative that the world is full of fake news, and you can’t trust anything, and other people are being misled about it—well, that might have had a bigger impact than the content itself.” Nyhan had a similar reaction. “There are genuine questions that are really important, but there’s a kind of opportunity cost that is missed here. There’s so much focus on sweeping claims that aren’t actionable, or unfounded claims we can contradict with data, that are crowding out the harms we can demonstrate, and the things we can test, that could make social media better.” He added, “We’re years into this, and we’re still having an uninformed conversation about social media. It’s totally wild.”

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Social Media Essay: Benefits and Drawbacks of Social Networking Sites

The advent of various social media channels has revolutionized the internet landscape by introducing us to global networking. Today, an individual can connect with another in a completely different part of this world just in a matter of seconds. We will take you through various notions and opinions associated with social media and how they impact our everyday lives. Also, there are some incredible tips to give you a better insight into how to write a social media essay.

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Sep 03 2020 ● 8 min read

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Table of Contents

What is social media essay.

As you know, an social media essay is a piece of writing that is used to introduce an essential topic to the world with its underlying advantages and disadvantages. These aspects are driven solely by facts and should not contain the opinions of the writers. It is drafted to give others a better understanding of the subject in hand.

No matter which subject it pertains to, an essay ends with a conclusion where the writers are permitted to give their opinion after weighing the advantages and disadvantages.

Similarly, a social media essay is written to appreciate the positive aspects and highlight the negative impacts of social media in this time and day. The conclusions include the analysis of the two elements by the writers in their own lives and give an open-ended point of view. Depending upon the essay writer or  paper writing service , the decision can be decisive, too, but that is not encouraged.

How do you write a social media essay?

Today, the use of social networks, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or LinkedIn, has increased exponentially. An average millennial spends 2 hours and 58 minutes per day on social media platforms like Facebook.  While some say that the platform is super-informative, others argue that all the information gathered on this platform is trivial and doesn't justify long hours invested in the use of social media. 

The above arguments make using social media by individuals with a debatable issue, and this is why a lot of students are required to write an essay on social media. So, here are some incredible tips to help you out in writing an essay on social media even if you don't have marketing skills . 

Structure of Social Media Essay

A classic essay consists of 3 parts – the introduction, main body, and the conclusion.

  • The Introduction

As you introduce the main topic, always begin with how it is relevant to the current scenario. You can do this by providing some background information. The information can be made richer by adding some reliable stats and data . Once you have established the topic, you need to give a strong thesis statement of the hypothesis on which your essay is based.

The thesis statement in your essay should be precise and debatable. If not, the arguments that you are going to put forward in the essay would make no sense.

The main body of your text should consist of logical arguments in relevance to your hypothesis. Make sure you put forward one statement in one paragraph and start a new one with another section. This will make your essay look more organized.

Also, when developing ideas, only include the ones you can write clearly about. If not, avoid them. Make sure that the essay develops coherently.

To conclude the essay about social media, bring back your hypothesis, and state how the aspects you discussed earlier support or nullify it. Make it a point to summarize all ideas, but do not start adding more ideas when you are about to conclude. You can now give an, ideally, open end to your essay.

A great conclusion is the one that provokes thought and will make your readers question the use of social media in their everyday lives.

Also, remember that essays do not have to include pros and cons always. They can either be full of pros or cons or both, depending upon your hypothesis. Just ensure they are relevant.

Various tones of a social media essay

You might believe that an essay is an essay, and two of them would be similar, but that's a misconception. Different essays have varying tones depending on how the author is treating the thesis statement through the main body of the text. Here are a few examples of essays on social media in different tones.

  • Sample of a Persuasive Essay

If you are asked to write an academic paper about the effects of social media on the mental health of teenagers and young adults, you should make it persuasive. For this, just writing about the topic is not enough. It would help if you had an impactful thesis, followed by powerful arguments to support or question your theory.

The perils associated with social media addiction are forcing parents and "grown-ups" to throw their benefits in bad light today. In the race to become best in academics and non-academic activities, people are losing their grip on how social networks bring people together. They empower individuals with knowledge about various cultures and languages, which might not have been possible otherwise.

Social media sites can be addictive, and students might waste their formative years scrolling through the trivial feed and gain nothing but superficial knowledge. But that is just because neither parents nor the school is encouraging positive social media behavior. If these institutions start offering tips to students to limit and utilize their time on social media , one would be amazed to see their achievements.

Is social media a catalyst for the downfall of student life?   Well, social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and more are teeming with inspirational achievers and content creators who go the extra mile to share their stories and inspire students. If the children are taught to see their access to social media as an opportunity to grow rather than a competition for likes and followers, they are bound to work harder and achieve goals that seemed insurmountable earlier.

  • Sample of Negative Essay about social media

If you have been asked to highlight the negative aspects of social media, your teacher does not mean that you have to cross all limits to present the use of social media in a bad light. Instead, what they are asking for is some logical and believable arguments that tell us why social media is harmful to society.

Social media is destroying family links by creating a virtual shell for each individual, which dissociates them with their own parents and siblings. The kids are adversely affected by increased access to social media if parents are always indulged in their devices and ignore them. Eventually, even kids start using tools to connect to other people, ignoring their family members.

Since kids and teenagers are the most impressionable age groups, they start believing that everything that glitters on social media platforms is gold, and they become materialistic. Their lives start revolving around likes, comments, and followers/subscribers. No matter whether their minds are prepared for such exposure or not, social media exposes them to the best and the worst about this world, which might turn them into rebels. They start valuing their online friends more than their offline lives and go to unimaginable extents to keep them entertained. 

So, parents and elders need to pay attention to their children and limit their social media use so that they can learn to form real relationships and values.

  • Weighing the pros and cons

Another way in which you can present your social media essay is by comparing the positive and negative aspects associated with it. In such essays, the conclusion is better left open for the readers to decide their own take on social media.

One cannot argue that social media has taken the world by storm by allowing like-minded individuals to connect and share their experiences with the world. You can use these platforms to make new friends and discover the ones who have lost touch. You can talk to everyone on your friend list and share your content on these channels to become a part of the creators' community. There is no dearth for talent on social media and its admirers.

On the other hand, if you use social media sites for long stretches of time in one go, you run the risk of addiction. Gradually, a social media addict starts to build a cocoon for themselves, which they find hard to step out of. This leads to a disconnect between you and the family you already have and love.  One might feel too confined yet comfortable in their space that they have no urge left to step out, pushing them towards social seclusion, or worse – depression.

When you flip the coin again, you will discover that social media has become an incredible platform for small businesses to grow and earn good profits . The grass-root companies do not have to invest much for advertising and promotion or even own an establishment. All they have to do is to create a grassroots marketing strategy for themselves, and their brand will start selling in no time!

In the end, social media is a game-changer on the World Wide Web. It allows people to connect with the virtual world with the risk of disconnecting with the real world. Then again, businesses are doing well on these platforms. There are indeed two sides to social media, one positive and another negative, and it is up to you which one you lean towards more.

  • Argumentative social media essay

A challenging but equally exciting type of essay on social media you should know about is an argumentative essay. It is often written when you are tasked with altering the point of view of the reader, which is of a completely opposite belief. Here is a sample for your better understanding.

Social networks have an uncertain future with the string impression they leave on users, especially the younger generations. Parents panic with the first mention of social media sites by their children and learning about their presence on these platforms because they are afraid of cyberbullying. They do not want their children to get cat-fished by some stranger on Reddit when they are not around.

Moreover, social media platforms are the reason why several individuals are losing their confidential data every day to corporate houses. These businesses are using the information to bug users with ads about stuff they do not want to buy.

If such instances carry on, the day is not far when the government will start to keep checks on the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels. Massive surveillance will be imposed on these sites to prevent malicious minds from harming innocent teenagers physically or by hacking into their systems. So, before you get a chance to ask " have I been hacked ", know that someone is taking care of it.

Incorporate an Attractive Topic

Having an attractive topic for your social media essay does not mean using poetic words in it. You should have an issue relevant to the current scenario. In the process of selecting a fascinating topic, do not forget to keep it within the extents of your knowledge. If it becomes too complicated for you to write about, you will be stuck when coming up with arguments and ideas.

The perfect topic would be the one which offers good potential for research and is interesting for the readers too. Even if you present profound arguments about such topics, they should be in a logical, comprehensible, and readable format for people to understand easily.

Writing a social media essay is no cakewalk, whether you are a high-school student or university student. All you need to do is, structuralize it properly, be clear with the ideas and arguments you are planning to present, pick the tone of your essay, and began writing. Do not forget to top your essay up with a catchy topic so that your entire hard work doesn't fall flat.

Published on Sep 03 2020

Gintaras is an experienced marketing professional who is always eager to explore the most up-to-date issues in data marketing. Having worked as an SEO manager at several companies, he's a valuable addition to the Whatagraph writers' pool.

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How to Write a Thesis Statement About Social Media

writing thesis statement about social media

Writing a thesis statement requires good research and creating a concise yet very informative point. Writing one about social media is no different. Due to the scope of the study, the information to gather and discuss is even more expansive.

  • What is a Social Media Thesis Statement?

Social Media Essay Outline

Social media essay titles, thesis on social media, argumentative essay on social media, social networking thesis statement, summing up the thesis statement.

Social media uses mobile technologies that are Internet-based to run communication across different parts of the world. It gives  people  worldwide the opportunity to communicate and socialize, unlike past means of communication which were only one-way.

The evolution of technology has made social media more efficient and prevalent than any other form of communication today. With technology’s continued evolution, social media will continue to evolve, and so will topics and thesis statements about it. A good  thesis statement about social media  must meet some requirements, and we will look through most of them.

What is a Social Media Thesis Statement Supposed to Look Like?

Before understanding how a  thesis statement on social media  should look like, we should familiarize ourselves with what thesis statements properly entail. A thesis statement is typically written in the introductory portion of a paper.

It provides an apt and rapid summary of the main point or aim of the research paper or thesis. As the name implies, it is a statement, mainly written in just one sentence.

A thesis statement briefly combines the topic and the main ideas of the paper. Usually, there are two types of thesis statements: indirect and direct. The indirect thesis statements do not mention the core areas or reason of the thesis like the direct statement does.

A direct statement mentions the main topic and discusses the reasons for the paper, while an indirect statement mentions the statement and points out three reasons for it.

For instance, an indirect  social media thesis  statement could go like this; “Effects of social media on youth and the reasons for its abuse.” Here the topic is clearly stated, along with the central claim of the thesis paper.

Thesis statements are created, backed up, and expatiated in the remaining parts of the paper by citing examples and bringing up other related topics that support their claim. Through this, the thesis statement then goes to help structure and develop the entire body of the writing piece.

A  thesis about social media  should contain a good thesis statement that would  impact  and organize the body of the thesis work. Thesis statements do not necessarily control the entire essay but complement it in numerous aspects.

In writing a social media essay, there is a wide variety of topics to talk about. The points are nearly endless, from information collection to technology, its impacts, and adverse effects to its evolution. Nevertheless, there is always a basic outline for an essay, and it will be structured to follow the same format.

Here is an outline for a social media essay;

  • Introduction 

Here, you begin with the topic, state its objective, provide reasons to support its claims and finalize with a precise and accurate thesis statement.

  • Thesis statement

This statement should support and complement your main topic of discussion. It should provide a concise and cut-out message of the essay.

This section systematically lays out the arguments to support your topic while splitting them into paragraphs. This will gradually develop your points in a structured manner.

Each paragraph in this section must start with the topic sentence which relates directly to the thesis statement. Naturally, a paragraph should focus on one idea and be connected to the essay’s central argument.

Students must also conduct research and provide evidence to support the claims presented in the topic sentence. They can achieve this by using proper explanation methods to merge all their findings carefully.

In the conclusion  of the social media essay ,   you restate your statement in a way that completely complements and brings all your previous arguments together. It must have a concluding paragraph that reiterates the main point discussed in the body of the content. It should also add a call to action to bring the essay into a logical closure that effortlessly lays bare all the ideas previously presented.

The social media field is continuously expanding, and there are various variations to how it can be operated and observed. Choosing a topic is easy, but choosing the right one may not be as unchallenging.

Before you begin writing an essay, the correct approach will be to review as many samples as you can. This way, you can easily understand the general concept and the adequate writing flow required to outline or develop your arguments carefully.

Picking the wrong titles can go on to make your  thesis for a social media essay  unnecessarily tricky to write. This can occur when you pick a topic too complex or choose one too vaguely and undervalued. This could make you get stuck when writing, so you should always pick titles that are easy to research, analyze and expand upon.

With all these in view, here are some social media essay titles;

  • Impact of social media on general education
  • Effects of using social media on businesses
  • Adverse effects of social media on personal relationships
  • The effect of government on social media and their potential restrictions
  • How a  thesis about the effects of social media can  positively impact society.

A thesis on social media should easily resemble other academic papers and concentrate on various topics in various subjects. Papers like this should take social media as their primary focus.

Keeping that in mind, a compelling social media thesis should contain specific parts like an introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion. Each part is essential and has its contribution and functions to the entire content of the thesis. Some students may find writing a thesis statement about social media difficult, so you can always ask our professional writers to “ write my thesis ” and we will be happy to help you.

The introduction usually contains a hook, a summary of the core points, and a concise thesis statement. The body section must carefully develop each argument and idea in a paragraph, while the conclusion should completely close all the arguments.

The tone, style, and approach to each argument should be precise and well laid out to quickly understand the general idea the thesis is trying to build upon. Depending on the level of education you are writing your thesis, you may need to conduct specific direct research on some points and be required to portray them in an encompassing manner.

Generally, thesis writing on any topic requires hard work, extensive research periods, and a good understanding of writing methods. Hence it should be approached with determination and passion. As a student in higher education, you should learn how to improve your writing skills.

An argumentative essay on social media is typically more engaging with active points of discussion and analysis. Communication is an integral aspect of human life when connecting and moving society as a whole forward. Now technology has upgraded communication to a social media age, which has become an advantage and disadvantage in many aspects of life.

An argumentative social media essay generally possesses a strong argument. The essay’s topic must be designed to prompt a person to pick a side or a discussion and provide the necessary support to back up their decision. This type of essay also requires one to research accurate facts for proper argumentative purposes.

Social media   argumentative essays  target the harmful effects of this brilliant innovation in communication and its uses worldwide. It is only natural as negative discussions might elicit a sense of debate and argumentation. Some examples of argumentative essay topics on social media include;

  • The negative effects of social media on education in different nations
  • Effects of social media and its impacts on the older and younger generation
  • How social media has taken over people
  • The adverse effects of social media and the digital space on our  mental health
  • The pros and cons of social media in this society.

Social networking is an integral aspect of social media. It uses Internet-based social media sites to create connections and stay connected with friends, customers, family, and even business partners.

Social networking usually performs a primary purpose in communication with actual avenues like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These sites and applications enable people to connect to develop relationships and share messages, ideas, and information.

Most social networking forms entail developing and maintaining relationships using communication technology, whether it is the relationship between clients, business partners, or even students.

For example, with the development of the Internet, most students can easily find services to help write dissertations on media space, or social media marketing. All you have to do is invite me to write my dissertation and they will immediately find the best service to solve their problem.

Writing is  a social networking thesis statement  similar to that of a social media thesis statement. They essentially involve rational discussion, and they can be approached in the same manner. The only slight difference will be the particular attention to social media relationships. How they are developed, what it takes to maintain them, and the various merits they could provide. These would typically form the structure of a  social networking thesis statement.

Writing a good thesis statement on social media involves a good understanding of the topic chosen and an accurate idea of the reasons, factors, and discussions that impact the main idea of the thesis. With all these discussed, you should be well on your way to writing good thesis statements on social media.

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The negative effects of social media on the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work

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The aim of this study was to understand the social identity levels of adolescents and to analyze the negative effects of social media on their social identity from the perspective of social work. The researcher used a descriptive-analytical technique in this study. The study's sample consisted of 200 adolescents (male and female) in the secondary stage at age group (15–18 years). The researcher designed a questionnaire based on the four main levels of James Marcia's theory of social identity. The results showed a variety of negative effects of social media on the social identity of adolescents in terms of "achievement - postponement - closure - dispersion", this requires taking serious measures from the family, the school, and other institutions to care for the family and the child to strengthen how to face these risks to protect the identity of adolescents from violating their privacy and negatively affecting their intellectual principles.

Negative Effects; Social Media; Social Identity; Adolescents; Social Work.

1. Introduction

Adolescence is the stage of cultural and social formation, it is the most critical juncture for children and youth. If there is no guidance, care, and follow-up from the adolescent's family and his school, the adolescent, in his quest to develop a sense of social identity, spends most of his time thinking, reviewing, and reflecting on the general values and behaviors he observes ( Bakkar, 2010 , p55). He must decide how to succeed in friendships with his peers, exercise his social roles as appropriate, and choose between multiple beliefs, ideas, and options that will give him a sense of distinct and independent existence working towards building his own future. In this light, adolescents are exposed to what is known as an identity crisis ( Levesque, 2011 , p.109, p.109).

The crisis of social identity is the main problem people must tackle during adolescence. The crisis starts with the beginning of the formation of a personality where the adolescent asks a number of questions to himself such as: Who am I? What is my role in society? How do I prove my existence? How do I succeed? Here, the adolescent finds himself faced with multiple questions, contradictory demands, and ideas, which force him to deal with multiple conflicts, especially in light of physical, mental, social, psychological, emotional, and family changes. If these changes are negative, it will result in the failure of the adolescent to successfully form his identity, in addition to facing many problems such as social role disorder, identity confusion, or the adoption of negative identity, harming the adolescent's life and future ( Salima and Fayza, 2014 . p.384).

1.1. Definition of social identity from the perspective of social work

The thinker Alex Mitchell considered that identity is an integrated system of physical, psychological, moral and social data involving a pattern of cognitive integration processes ( Mitchell et al., 2016 , pp12-16). It is characterized by its unity, which is embodied in the inner spirit, and has the characteristic of the sense of identity and intelligence ( Mitchell et al., 2016 , pp127-138). Identity is the unity of internal feelings ( Asiri, 2004 , p.122), which is the unity of physical elements, differentiation, permanence, and central effort. This means that identity is a unit of integrated physical, social and psychological elements, which makes a person distinct from others, and enables him to feel his own unity ( Dawaq, 2016 , p.26).

Erik Erikson believes that the identity of an individual is formed during a long struggle, which begins in adolescence, and focuses on the composition of two element ( Erikson, 1994 , p15). The first is the acquisition of the ability to create a relationship with the surroundings, and the second a sense of integration into a suitable moral world. We believe that both elements are necessary and complementary to each other because the individual needs to identify himself within his society. When people ask us who we are, they do not usually mean the name we carry, but our position in the social network, that is, the small circle that we belong to within the great social circle, and the job that we do within this circle ( Salima and Fayza, 2014 , p.390). Therefore, the individual does not just mention his first name, but adds to him the last name, and then the functional definition, which refers to occupation, hobby or status. This leads us to the second element, namely, the need for an individual to have a meaningful world in which to enjoy his or her abilities and receive the appropriate reward for what he does. This is why all people seek to build relationships with a group, because much of the pleasure of life, or happiness, is achieved through interaction between individuals. Hence, it is said that those who dispense with people lose the sense of beauty of life ( Al-Shammasi, 2006 , p.23) because in fact they lose the need for the daily challenge posed by the physical and moral interaction between the individual and his environment ( Cillessen and Rose, 2008 , p.143). It is the need for integration that imposes on the individual a pattern of personal choices and descriptions that may not necessarily be the best for them but are necessary to make their way into the community. On the other hand. groups may vary in their susceptibility to the integration of new individuals, in the sense that they may set difficult conditions, require the individual to give up his own choices in return for enjoying the virtues of social living, or simply refuse to integrate any new individual unless they are fully identical with them in psychological and social growth ( Al-Hafian, 2004 , p.30).

1.2. James Marcia's theory and levels of social identity

The theory of Marcia is based on a significant assumption that a well-defined and independently determined identity exists for the mature and well-adjusted person. This presumption expresses an implicit collection of shared principles, with a putting great emphasis on human interests, rights, and freedoms. Therefore, maturity in terms of a highly developed sense of an individual self is only natural, and maturity is characterized by the willingness to subjugate individual pursuits and desires in the service of the greater good of the group ( Morelli, 2020 , pp.12–24).

There are four key points or milestones that James Marcia's theory has descriptively defined along the continuum of identity growth. Such stations or points describe very different states of identity, ranging from a diffuse and indeterminate individual identity to a precise and extremely specific individual identity. Marcia assumed that such conditions and events (called 'crises') act as catalysts for movement along this continuum and through the different status of identity. These crises cause internal tension and emotional upheaval, forcing teenagers to analyze their values, beliefs, and aspirations and doubt them. They can develop new beliefs, accept different values, and make different choices as they explore new possibilities. Every identity status is a basic configuration of the progress of an adolescent with regard to identity exploration and dedication to the values, beliefs, and goals that contribute to identity ( Marcia, 1966 , p 551), Marcia used the concept of identity status to identify four stations or points of unique developmental identity as follows:

Social identity achievement: This status of identity reflects both a high degree of experimentation and a high level of dedication. It is said that teenagers have achieved their identity through an active discovery phase and a deep commitment to a clear set of values, beliefs, and life goals that have resulted from this active exploration and analysis. Adolescents will have determined what ideals and priorities are most important to them at this identity status, and what purpose or task will drive their life. individuals at the status of identity achievement may prioritize what is relevant to them and have sorted who they want to be by the many possibilities. They would have experimented and examined their journey in life with several different convictions and values. Young people need to feel optimistic and secure in their choices and beliefs to truly achieve this form of identity ( Marcia James, 2011 , p101). In addition to achieving a goal as a result of the individual's experience after a temporary period of exploration, including testing values, beliefs, goals, and roles, selecting what was meaningful or personal and of social value, and then demonstrating a true commitment to what was chosen to implement it ( Al-Ghamdi, 2001 , p.86).

Social identity postponement: This identity status reflects a high level of experimentation but a low degree of dedication. At this point, teenagers are in the midst of a crisis of identity that has prompted them to explore and experiment with various values, beliefs, and goals. They have not, however, made any definitive decisions as to which principles and beliefs are most important to them, and which values should guide their lives. Therefore, they are not committed to a specific identity yet. They keep their choices and alternatives open ( Marcia, 1966 , p 550). In addition to continuing to try and test the available options without reaching a final decision and without making a real commitment to specific options, which causes the individual to change his choices from time to time in an attempt to reach what is appropriate ( Abu Arad, 2008 , p.18), including but not limited to changing the field of study, profession, identities or friends ( Steinberg, 2002 , p.33).

Social identity closure: This status of identification indicates a low level of discovery but a high degree of dedication. Adolescents do not consciously seek to decide what is important to them in this identity status. The principles and beliefs they have been taught are not questioned. Instead, by clearly embracing the ideals and values of their families and community culture, these teenagers obtain their identity. In a way, the personality given to them is passively embraced by them. Although these young people are committed to their assigned ideals and life goals, they do not ask why they should be, nor do they suggest any alternatives ( Marcia, 1980 , pp.159–187), in addition to their avoidance of any subjective attempt to reveal beliefs, goals and social roles of meaning or value in life, but they are contented with satisfaction of the roles as determined by external forces such as family and society ( Al-Zu'bi, 2001 , p.477).

Social identity dispersion: This identity status describes adolescents who have neither explored any real identity nor committed to it. This status of identity thus reflects a low level of experimentation and a low level of dedication. These teenagers have not at all considered their identity, and have not set any goals for life. They are reactive, floating through life passively, and dealing with every situation as it arises. Their main motivation is hedonism, avoiding discomfort, and gaining pleasure ( Marcia James, 2011 , p101), in addition to the lack of individual sense of the need to form a philosophy, goals, or specific roles in life, on the one hand, with the absence of commitment to the roles which led by chance on the other. This happens with the aim of avoiding the individual researching and testing to preferring compatibility with problems or solving them by postponing and disrupting ( Khader, 2018 , p.89).

In light of the above, the individual's identity is formed solely by the interaction of the individual with others, and the individual's view of others is partly shaped by the way others view that individual. According to the theory of symbolic reactivity (role theory) ( Al-Murshidi, 2007 , p.27), people continue to possess their individuality but are not entirely distinct from society ( Ali, 2007 , p.83), and identity acts as a bridge between the individual and those around him ( Mohsen, 2018 ), for this reason, we must work hard to monitor and follow up our children in their way of life especially after the recent boom in electronic means of communication and the spread of social media which has become a remarkable presence all over the world, especially among children and young people and despite the positive effect of some social media, but the social media can also have a destructive influence on social relations between adolescents and their families, in addition to the negative effect on the academic achievement of adolescents.

1.3. Definition of social media

The phenomenon of social media began in 1997, and the site "Six Degrees.com" was the first of these sites providing the opportunity for users to create profiles, comment on news, and exchange messages with other participants ( Mohamed, 2019 , p.6). Although the site "Six Degrees.com" is the pioneer of social networking, "My Space.com" has opened wide horizons and achieved tremendous success since its inception in 2003 ( Hayaty, 2018 , p.3). Then successively began the emergence of social media, but the milestone is the emergence of ‘Facebook.com’ which enables users to share information among themselves and allow friends to access their profiles ( Al-Shareef, 2014 , p73), for this reason, the use of various social media has become a daily occurrence in modern times ( Mashaal, 2018 , p.56).

Some scholars define social media as virtual places where communication through the means of dialogue, chat, comment, photography, and interaction between users can take place without borders or breaks ( Al-Jazi, 2018 , p.14). So, the internet is described as a virtual space because it is considered a liberating place where no one party owns it ( Asur and Huberman, 2010 , p.40), and defines social media as services that are created and programmed by major companies to gather the largest number of users and friends who share activities and interests, searching for more friendships and the interests and activities of other people with whom they share one of the intellectual contributions ( Bailey et al., 2009 , p. 10 & Salim, 2008 , p.56). These social media provide features such as instant messaging, public and private messaging, and multimedia sharing of voice, video, image, and files ( Rajah, 2019 , p.86), which has attracted millions of users from around the world. ( Mansour, 2014 , pp.287–288), and also social media are an electronic social structure made from individuals, groups, or institutions, the basic composition (such as an individual) of which is called a term (node) where these nodes are connected to different types of relationships ( Al-Mu'ti, 2016 , p.93). Such as supporting a specific sports team, belonging to a company or nationality of a country in the world and these relationships may reach deeper degrees ( Ali, 2019 , p.102), such as social status, beliefs, or class to which the person belongs ( Salima and Fayza, 2014 , p.391), and there are many types of social media used by children and adolescents such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc ( Hamed, 2018 , p.7).

1.4. Advantages for children and adolescents of using social media from the perspective of social work

Provide the opportunity to connect with friends, family, and colleagues who share the same interests, and share pictures, ideas, and fun moments with each other ( O'Keeffe and Clarke-Pearson, 2011 , p127).

Provide an opportunity to join in community service projects through what is known as “e-volunteering”.

Developing individual and collective creativity through exchanging technical projects and benefitting from innovative experiences ( Muzayd, 2012 , p.42).

Promoting educational opportunities developing ideas and raising intelligence through the creation of blogs, videos, and game sites ( Ito et al., 2008 , p.15).

There are ways to regulate and control privacy and confidentiality rules not based on reparation or compulsion but rather on choice, and users can block or report inappropriate or unacceptable interventions and materials.

Provide an opportunity to learn, to exchange respect, tolerance, and constructive dialogue on global humanitarian issues to promote human identity and social skills ( Abdul Jalil, 2011 , p.247).

1.5. Risks for children and adolescents of using social media from the perspective of social work

Threat and harassment through the Internet: through the dissemination of false information, embarrassing or hostile interaction from others. This is one of the biggest risks of using the internet for adolescents, it is a risk from peer to peer and can cause profound social and psychological consequences such as depression, anxiety, isolation, and tragic suicide ( Nomar, 2012 , p.193).

Send sexual messages (sexting): through the sending and receiving of sexual messages and images through mobile phones, computers, and other digital receivers where images become rapidly spread via mobile phone and the internet. This phenomenon can be seen in recent research which has shown that 20% of adolescents published pictures of their own showing themselves naked or semi-naked, with some of them having been accused and convicted on charges of felony publishing porn ( AL-Oubli, 2011 , p.826).

Facebook depression: which occurs in adolescents as a result of spending a lot of time on social media sites such as Facebook and then beginning to show symptoms of depression through social isolation from their environment and their families, with some resorting to using dangerous sites and blogs, which may promote addiction or sexual relations and/or destructive, self-aggressive behaviors. Social media sites lead to the isolation and destruction of family relations ( Hosni, 2011 , p. 101).

The collapse of the idea of the reference group in its traditional sense. The virtual society is not determined by the place, but by the common interests that bring people together, who did not necessarily know each other before meeting electronically. They are sleepless societies; one can find a contact with another around the clock. Virtual societies are highly decentralized and gradually result in the dismantling of the concept of traditional identity. The disintegration of identity is not confined to national or resident identity, but also to personal identity, because those who use social media often use pseudonyms and avatars, and some have more than one account ( Al-Obaidi, 2019 , p.18).

Digital Footprint and Privacy concerns: This is related to the lack of privacy for adolescents, due to a lack of experience in the safe use of social media sites, who exchange a lot of private information or disseminate false information related to them or others putting their privacy at risk. In addition, the presence of the property is collected and user information recorded on the internet resulting in something called a "digital fingerprint." ( Zain Al Abdeen, 2013 , p.2).

1.6. Previous studies

Several studies have indicated that one of the most significant difficulties experienced by adolescents is a conflict of values linked to their continuous search for identity and belonging ( Bouchey and Furman, 2013 , p.319). This is compounded with a desire to achieve self-direction by going into the unknown; interacting with strangers on social media sites and entering into a network of virtual relationships via the internet. This corresponds with the study ( Laith, 2011 ) on “The Impact of Using Social Media site "Facebook" on Youth Self-Esteem” which demonstrated the role Facebook plays in modern upbringing through providing a platform for children and young people to discover ideas and convictions that greatly shape their future character values and determine their life trends. Traditional upbringing institutions lack the ability to monitor new behavioral patterns resulting from friction with the outside world caused by social media. The study also noted that a large number of young people have become isolated from their communities, hiding behind computer screens to connect with the virtual community instead. The study recommended the need to regulate the method and hours of social media use, while determining the quality of permitted sites and programs, and considering the increasing need for periodic supervision on children by their families. In this context, according to recent statistics, 22% of adolescents access their favorite social sites more than ten times a day and more than half of adolescents enter these sites more than once a day 75% of adolescents have a mobile phone, 25% of them use their phones to access these sites. and 54% use it to send SMS, whilst 24% use it for instant messaging. Thus, much of the social and emotional development of this generation takes place online via mobile phone ( Zain Al Abdeen, 2013 , p.2). And study ( Safar, 2017 ), entitled “The role of social networks in the consolidation of the values of citizenship from the perspective of the Omani youth,” This study aimed to identify the role of social networks in establishing the values of citizenship from the viewpoint of the university youth in Oman, The study used the descriptive-analytical approach and relied on the questionnaire tool, It was applied to a random sample of 477 students from Sultan Qaboos University, The study concluded several results, including The social networks, reinforced the value of brotherhood among citizens and emphasized the cohesion Patriotism among community members, Social networks were used to promote solidarity, cooperation and assistance to the needy, The results showed that many social media sites were the most used among the sample members They are in order Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter. And study ( Hamdi, 2018 ), University Youth Dependence on Social Media for Access to Information, “A Survey Study at the University of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia”, The main objective of the study is to know the degree of dependence of Saudi youth on the communication sites Social In knowing the information and news they are looking for, and the study relied on the descriptive method and the questionnaire tool, It was applied to a sample of 401 students from the University of Tabuk in Saudi Arabia. The most important results of the study were the most important motives for the use of social networking sites by Saudi youth is entertainment and leisure time, then get news and information, then for social relations with friends and relatives.

Several studies have indicated there are the effects of social media on an individual's life, his academic achievement, and his progress in life such as study ( Awad, 2013 ) entitled: “The effects of the use of social media sites on the educational attainment of children in Tulkarm governorate from the point of view of housewives”, which stressed the importance of the role played by mothers of teenage children who use social media sites. The study reached the important conclusion that social media sites have a negative impact on the educational attainment of children, especially in cases where mothers worked more hours. Therefore, it is necessary to target mothers with awareness campaigns and workshops, to raise the level of awareness of how they can monitor their children's use of these sites, and advise them of the need to establish rules and controls to monitor banned and destructive sites, so users cannot access pornographic sites. And study ( AL-Aag, 2013 ) entitled: The use of the Internet in the study and its relationship to motivation for learning in adolescents (12–14 years). The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between the use of the Internet and motivation for learning among teenage pupils, the researcher used the descriptive method, and relied on a simple random sample, the sample size represents 110 pupils. One of the most important results of the study, the proportion of males who use the Internet is estimated at 50% of the total sample, while the percentage of students who are highly motivated to learning 91.81%, and students with low motivation to learning 9.19%. And study ( Hattat, 2014 ), entitled (psychosocial problems of school-age adolescents internet users), This study aimed at detecting the prevalence of psychosocial problems in terms of internet addiction, social isolation, lack of concentration, and depression in a sample of adolescents studying “internet users in Ouargla”, the sample of the basic study consisted of 406 students using the internet who were chosen intentionally among the students studying during the 2013–2014 school year, one of the most important results of the study was that the prevalence of psychological and social problems was low, where the percentage of Internet addiction was 2.95 %, 0.73% for social isolation and 2.70% for the problem of alienation. And study ( Zawana, 2015 ), entitled ‘The degree of using social networks as a tool for learning among Jordanian university students and the achieved satisfaction’, the aim of this study was to investigate the degree of use of social media by Jordanian university students as a learning tool, the study used the descriptive approach in the field survey of the study community consisting of the University of Jordan as a public university and the Universities of the Middle East and Petra as private universities, the questionnaire was applied to a total sample of 400 students, they were asked closed questions on the five axes of the tool on the degree of use and the satisfaction of saturation, the results include: YouTube ranked first, followed by Facebook and Twitter respectively, students resort to the university's website in the first degree to learn the dates of the quarterly and monthly tests. In addition to studying ( Bu-Abdullah, 2016 ), entitled " Internet uses and their impact on students Adolescents "Secondary Field Study of Khadr Ramadan Omash-Biskra", this study aimed to identify the uses of the Internet and its impact on teenage pupils and this study is descriptive, and selected the sample was random, Where included 26 students in high school, the questionnaire was used as a study tool, the study reached the following results: It was emphasized that the use of the internet leads to delayed level of academic achievement in adolescent pupils, the availability of the Internet inside the home increases the duration of use of the teenager, it was also emphasized that parents should know the programs which watching their teenage child is on the Internet to guide to the useful things on this network. And also study ( Hinnawi, 2016 ), entitled " Uses of Middle Teen Students for Networks Social networking in Nablus city schools in Palestine, this study aimed to investigate the reality of the use of students adolescence to social networking, the study used the descriptive method and the sample of the study was 217 singles, one of the most important findings of the study is that the majority of students have at least one subscription on social networking sites by 97%, And 63% of them use smartphones as the main device in the use of social networks. And study ( Kehinde and Adegbilero. 2016 ), entitled "Use of social media by science students in public universities in Southwest Nigeria", this study aimed to identify the extent of the use of social media in academic activities by students of the State University in southwestern Nigeria, The study was based on a descriptive curriculum and a purposive sample of 140 students from three educational institutions in southwestern Nigeria, the results of the study indicated that the students are a user of social networking sites in high rates, with 93.48% use Facebook, then Google by 63.77%, In addition, two-thirds of users use it for staying informed about events/news, then for leisure and entertainment, the most important obstacles facing them in the use of social networks are receiving unsolicited messages and power outages.

1.7. The present study and it questions

The present study is concerned with studying the negative effects of social media on the social identity of adolescents in terms of "achievement - postponement - closure - dispersion" from the perspective of social work, and this is a new aspect not addressed before. In order to do so, this research asks the following research questions:

Q1: What are the negative effects of social media on the level of "achievement" in the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work?

Q2: What are the negative effects of social media on the level of "postponement" in the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work?

Q3: What are the negative effects of social media on the level of "closure" in the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work?

Q4: What are the negative effects of social media on the level of "dispersion" in the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work?

Q5: Does the degree of awareness adolescents of the negative effects of social media on levels of their social identity vary according to gender, adjective, age, number years of using, and favorite app?

2. Methodological procedures

2.1. sample.

The study community is represented by all adolescent students in the secondary stage, an estimated (3836) students "males - females". As for the research sample, the sample was chosen randomly. The researcher used a simple random survey (a representative sample of the study population of adolescent students in secondary school), and the sample size was estimated (200) "males - females" adolescent student. The researcher used Cochran's Equation to calculate a sample size as shown in Eq. (1) ( Cochran, 1963 , p.75, p.75):

Where n is denotes the sample size in limited communities, which applies to the study population, n 0 is denotes the sample size in infinite communities (open communities), and N is denotes the size of the study population, where the researcher identified the study population from the official data issued by the department of student affairs at the secondary school, which is estimated from the reality of records of 3836 adolescent students.

The researcher used Smith's Equation to calculate a n 0 as shown in Eq. (2) ( Smith, 1983 , p.90, p.90):

Where n 0 is the sample size, z is the abscissa of the normal curve that cuts off an area α at the tails and the researcher determined it by 99% at the level of significance of 1%, which is estimated at ± 2.58., e is the desired level of precision (in the same unit of measure as the variance) which was determined by the researcher as only one degree, and σ is the variance of an attribute in the population.

By doing the calculations it was→: n 0 = ( 2.58 ) 2 × ( 5,63 ) 2 = 211 ( 1 ) 2

The sample size in the study population can be calculated as follows: -

In the present research, the sample consisted of 200 adolescents (males 98 and females 102) form students the secondary stage. (see Table 1 , Figure 1 shows the demographic information on participants).

Table 1

Demographic information on participants.

Figure 1

In light of these results, it is clear that the percentage of females represents the highest rate at 51%, and followed Male at 49%. This converges with study ( AL-Aag, 2013 ) which indicated that the proportion of males is less than or equal to females who use the internet is estimated at 50% (Any half of the total users). This may be justified because most of the girls in the Arab world after the end of their school day spend their spare time for long periods at home because they do not have the same space of freedom as the boys to spend fun time with their friends. This may be why girls are more attracted to using social media as an outlet to entertain themselves and socialize with many people online. The majority of adolescents are those in the age group of 15 years at 36%, followed by 16 years at 33.5%. It is clear that the majority of adolescents are users of social media on a large scale of 95%. This resulted from the ease of use and access of the internet, indoors, and outdoors through the various systems offered by telecommunications companies that are commensurate with the nature of the material possibilities of each individual. That corresponds with the study ( Hinnawi, 2016 ), which confirmed the majority of students have at least one subscription on social media at the rate of 97%. besides, it is clear that the number years of using social media sites of adolescents is (7–10 years) by 40.5% of a user, followed by (4–6) by 34%. This is a significant indicator since these two stages represent the stage of early and middle childhood from the age of 8 years and above. Once the child reached adolescence, he was already addicted to the use of social media because he has spent most of his leisure time using it. In addition to, it turns out that the most popular social media sites frequented by adolescents are Facebook, at 39.5%, followed by WhatsApp, at 18.5%, followed by Instagram, at 18%. This is because these sites offer multiple features that increase the interaction between subscribers at no cost to the user, and it corresponds to the study ( Kehinde and Adegbilero, 2016 ) the indicated that the adolescents are using Facebook in the rate of 93.48%, and also it corresponds to the study ( Zawana, 2015 ) and study ( Safar, 2017 ) which showed that a number of social media sites were the most used among the members They are in order: Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter.

2.2. Ethical approval

This study was approved by the Scientific Research Ethics Committee of Ajman UAE. In addition to that, all participants provided informed consent before beginning the survey, besides, confirmation that the researcher complied with all relevant ethical regulations to maintain the confidentiality of the participants' information.

2.3. Study instrument

2.3.1. questionnaire.

The researcher designed a new and innovative questionnaire that reflects the four main axes of James Marcia's theory of social identity (see 1.2. in 1. Introduction) in order to evaluate the impact of social media sites on the levels of social identity for adolescents. The questionnaire consists of 40 phrases, and the researcher managed the sincerity and reliability of the questionnaire as follows:

Validity of the questionnaire: The research tool was confirmed by the virtual validity method for the questionnaire by presenting it in its initial form with a list of study questions, to ten members of the teaching staff of universities, all of whom were doctorate holders in social work, sociology, psychology, and education. The content was adjusted according to their recommendations.

Reliability of the questionnaire: The researcher verified the reliability of the questionnaire by using the test-retest method. The questionnaire was applied to a small random sample consisting of 30 adolescents in secondary school, and fifteen days after the test was reapplied to the same sample of adolescents. After that, the Spearman correlation coefficient between the two applications was calculated, it is worth noting that the reliability coefficient was calculated according to Spearman's law of correlation coefficient as shown in Eq. (3) : -

]In light of these results, the total reliability coefficient of 0.80 was considered appropriate for the purposes of this study as shown in Table 2 , and the stability of the questionnaire is evident with a high confidence degree = 0.80 = 89%, It is a high coefficient, so the questionnaire has its validity, reliability and a high level of internal consistency.

Table 2

Shows the stability of the questionnaire and its variables.

2.4. Data analysis measures

To find out the views of adolescents about the degree of the negative effects of the means of social communication on levels their social identity, a three-dimensional Likert scale is adopted as follows: agree (3), neutral (2), and disagree (1), as shown in Table 3 with the options used to evaluate counting periods.

Table 3

The evaluation of scale data based on the options of scale and score intervals.

2.5. Methods of analyzing

The researcher used descriptive analysis to collect, analyze, and interpret the data for the study methodology, this is because this study falls under the descriptive research pattern aimed at describing and analyzing the variables of the study so that the researcher can obtain accurate data ( Mohammed, 2012 , p.48) and information depicting the reality of the situation ( Mowaffaq, 2006 , p55). Descriptive analysis is defined as a method of study and a systematic and objective way to explain and measure phenomena ( Sandelowski, 1995 , pp 372, 374). The description is then linked by comparison and interpretation to reach accurate results as to the nature of the dimensions of the social identity of adolescents and the extent of the negative effects of social media on them and determine the most popular social media used by adolescents, in addition to determining the differences between users and non-users of the areas of social identity associated with each of its four dimensions. This is in light of the monitoring, analysis, and interpretation of the data that was accessible from the study sample, extracting accurate conclusions and recommendations.

2.6. Analysis of statistics

The researcher used the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) analytical software for conducting the descriptive statistical analysis of data to analyze and interpret the data, in addition to some statistical coefficients were used to answer the study questions, which were (frequencies, percentage, arithmetic mean, and standard deviation) to characterize sample data. in addition to (T-test) and was used to study gender differences in social identity, as well as differences in the use of gender communication networks, as well as differences in the levels of social identity in terms of (achievement - postponement - closure - dispersion). and one-way ANOVA test to find out the significance of the differences between averages.

3.1. Study findings related to RQ1

The question was: What are the negative effects of social media on the level of "achievement" in the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work?

The total weights, weighted relative weight, percentage of the negative effects of social media on the level of " achievement " in the social identity of adolescents were calculated by using the Questionnaire instrument and then arranging the negative effects of social media on the level of "achievement" according to their total weights, weighted relative weight, and percentage from High to low (see Table 4 , Figure 2 ).

Table 4

The negative effects of social media on the level of "achievement" in the social identity of adolescents.

Figure 2

We note from the results that the negative effects of the social media on the level of "achievement” in the social identity of adolescents obtained a total weight of (4020), weighted relative weight of (67%). This indication is a medium, indicating that the level of impact is average. It is clear from the analysis that the phrase (I believe that the future depends on the intelligence of the individual in how he uses the benefits of social media to delight himself more than serve society) showed the highest percentage of all the negative effects of social media on the level of " achievement " in the social identity of adolescents, with total weights (454), Weighted relative weight (75.67), percentage of 11.3 % and Ranking (1).

3.2. Study findings related to RQ2

The question was: What are the negative effects of social media on the level of "postponement" in the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work?

The total weights, weighted relative weight, percentage of the negative effects of social media on the level of "postponement " in the social identity of adolescents were calculated by using the Questionnaire instrument and then arranging the negative effects of social media on the level of "postponement" according to their total weights, weighted relative weight, and percentage from High to low (see Table 5 , Figure 3 ).

Table 5

The negative effects of social media on the level of "postponement" in the social identity of adolescents.

Figure 3

We note from the results that the negative effects of the social media on the level of "postponement” in the social identity of adolescents obtained a total weight of (4076), weighted relative weight of (67.93%). This indication is a medium, indicating that the level of impact is average. It is clear from the analysis that the phrase (I learned from my friends through social media that achieving a self does not require logic in thinking and does not require speed in decision-making for any reason) showed the highest percentage of all the negative effects of social media on the level of " postponement " in the social identity of adolescents, with total weights (456), Weighted relative weight (76), percentage of 11.18 % and Ranking (1).

3.3. Study findings related to RQ3

The question was: What are the negative effects of social media on the level of "closure" in the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work?

The total weights, weighted relative weight, percentage of the negative effects of social media on the level of " closure " in the social identity of adolescents were calculated by using the Questionnaire instrument and then arranging the negative effects of social media on the level of " closure " according to their total weights, weighted relative weight, and percentage from High to low (see Table 6 , Figure 4 ).

Table 6

The negative effects of social media on the level of "closure" in the social identity of adolescents.

Figure 4

The negative effects of social media on the level of " closure " in the social identity of adolescents.

We note from the results that the negative effects of the social media on the level of "closure” in the social identity of adolescents obtained a total weight of (3897), weighted relative weight of (64.95 %). This indication is a medium, indicating that the level of impact is average. It is clear from the analysis that the phrase (The presence of my family members on my social media account is imposed on me, and I am inside me I don't agree on it) showed the highest percentage of all the negative effects of social media on the level of " closure " in the social identity of adolescents, with total weights (507), Weighted relative weight (84.5), percentage of 13.01% and Ranking (1).

3.4. Study findings related to RQ4

The question was: What are the negative effects of social media on the level of "dispersion" in the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work?

The total weights, weighted relative weight, percentage of the negative effects of social media on the level of " dispersion" in the social identity of adolescents were calculated by using the Questionnaire instrument and then arranging the negative effects of social media on the level of "dispersion" according to their total weights, weighted relative weight, and percentage from High to low (see Table 7 , Figure 5 ).

Table 7

The negative effects of social media on the level of "dispersion" in the social identity of adolescents.

Figure 5

The negative effects of social media on the level of " dispersion " in the social identity of adolescents.

We note from the results that the negative effects of the social media on the level of "dispersion” in the social identity of adolescents obtained a total weight of (4065), weighted relative weight of (67.75%). This indication is a medium, indicating that the level of impact is average. It is clear from the analysis that the phrase (I don't have close friends on social media, I just want to be among the participants on the social media pages in order for me to feel the importance me of being in life) showed the highest percentage of all the negative effects of social media on the level of " dispersion " in the social identity of adolescents, with total weights (449), Weighted relative weight (74.83), percentage of 11.05% and Ranking (1).

3.5. Study findings related to RQ5

The question was: Does the degree of awareness adolescents of the negative effects of social media on levels of their social identity vary according to gender, adjective, age, number years of using, and favorite app?

In order to answer the fifth research question of the study, the investigator measured the mean scores and standard deviations. In order to find out the importance of the variations between averages, the investigator then conducted an independent T-test and a one-way ANOVA test. In the following section, the findings are detailed.

3.5.1. Gender

An independent sample test (T) was used by the researcher to determine the importance of the discrepancies between averages of adolescents' awareness of the negative impact of social media on their social identity levels. The results were measured by gender (see Table 8 ).

Table 8

Mean and SD by gender of the adolescent's responses.

The results in Table 8 show that the computed value of (T) was (-3,017), which is greater than that of the table of (T). This implies that at the significance level of (0.000), which is less than the required statistical significance level (0.05), there are substantial differences between the mean value of male and female, where females are preferred over males.

3.5.2. Adjective

An independent sample test (T) was used by the researcher to determine the importance of the discrepancies between averages of adolescents' awareness of the negative impact of social media on their social identity levels. The results were measured by adjective (see Table 9 ).

Table 9

Mean and SD by an adjective of the adolescent's responses.

The results in Table 9 show that the computed value of (T) was (-4.019), which is greater than that of the table of (T). This implies that at the significance level of (0.000), which is less than the required statistical significance level (0.05), there are substantial differences between the mean value of Users of networks and Non-users of networks, where the User of networks are favored over the Non-user of networks.

Table 10 . Shows the ANOVA one-way test results to evaluate the responses of the adolescent according to age.

Table 10

One-way ANOVA of the responses of adolescents by age.

∗Statistically significant at (α 0.05).

In Table 10 . There are no statistically significant variations in the viewpoints of teenagers according to the age variable at 0.178, which is greater than the required statistical significance level of 0.05.

3.5.4. Number years use of social media

Table 11 . Shows the ANOVA one-way test results to evaluate the responses of the adolescents according to number years use of social media.

Table 11

One-way ANOVA of the responses of adolescents by number years use of social media.

In Table 11 . There are no statistically significant variations in the viewpoints of teenagers according to the number years use of social media variable at 0.142, which is greater than the required statistical significance level of 0.05.

3.5.5. Favorite app

Table 12 . Shows the ANOVA one-way test results to evaluate the responses of the adolescents according to favorite app.

Table 12

One-way ANOVA of the responses of adolescents by favorite app.

In Table 12 . There are no statistically significant variations in the viewpoints of teenagers according to the favorite app variable at 0.123, which is greater than the required statistical significance level of 0.05.

4. Discussion

This study aimed to identify the negative effects of social media on "levels" the social identity of adolescents in the secondary stage from the perspective of social work, the results showed that the negative effects of the social media on the level of "achievement” in the social identity of adolescents obtained a total weight of (4020), weighted relative weight of (67%). This indication is a medium, indicating that the level of impact is average. The obtained results, are shown in Table 4 , and concern the extent negative effects of social media on the level of "achievement" of the social identity of adolescents. We have noticed that most adolescent responses are indicating a lack of interest in the effective role in normal life, and rather transforming themselves into being united with an electronic world where the quality of values and principles are different from that of previous generations. Here we see that some teenagers are trying to have an entity and a role but many of them cannot because of the dangerous and influential role of the internet which depends on dazzling and attracting the longest number of hours in front of social media. Although, James Marcia believes this level is the most mature level of identity because it integrates and develops the growth of the personality of the teenager through the development and identification of tasks and pledges clearly and specifically. However, the adolescent cannot reach a strong level due to the fact that many of them are driven towards the negative impact of these sites. This corresponds with a study ( Bu-Abdullah, 2016 ) which indicated to emphasized that the use of the Internet leads to a lack of interest in the effective role in their life and Delayed level of academic achievement in adolescent pupils as well, the obtained results, are shown in Table 5 , and concern the negative effects of the social media on the level of "postponement” in the social identity of adolescents obtained a total weight of (4076), weighted relative weight of (67.93%). This indication is a medium, indicating that the level of impact is average. We note from the results and It is clear from the analysis that the negative effects of social media on the level of "Postponement" of the social identity of adolescents indicating the inability of an adolescent to come up with a clear idea of the things he wants. Besides, his goals in life are almost clear but he cannot make decisions about them, he is a person whose character is fluctuating and contradictory for fear of taking responsibility or committing to specific promises to himself or the community around him. This agrees with James Marcia's opinion that the teenager in this rank is in a period of exploration and has unclear and vague commitments. and has not set his position on many of his life issues This corresponds with a study ( Bu-Abdullah, 2016 ) which indicated to emphasized, the availability of the Internet inside the home increases the duration of use of the adolescent to a social network, and this too leads postponing adolescents for many of the goals in addition to the Fluctuation in opinion and inability to make clear decisions.

Results also showed in Table 6 , that the negative effects of the social media on the level of "closure” in the social identity of adolescents obtained a total weight of (3897), weighted relative weight of (64.95 %). This indication is a medium, indicating that the level of impact is average. Moreover, the obtained results, as shown in Table 5 , and concern the extent the negative effects of social media on the level of "closure" of the social identity of adolescents indicating that the adolescent is ineffective and awaits solutions and results from others, whether power, friends or society. This result reflects the extent of the turbulence experienced by adolescents with their lack of self-confidence due to lack of ability to choose and lack of self-confidence, whether at the future social level or at the religious level and that he cannot make a decision or take responsibility. James Marcia expresses this rank that the teenager does not have clear and specific commitments, but takes them ready from his parents or those around him. This contradicts the study ( Hattat, 2014 ) which indicated that social networks reduce the degree of social isolation, but, the exact scores and percentages reached by the current study prove that social networking sites have a significant negative impact that leads to more of closure with their lack of self-confidence due to lack of ability to choose and lack of self-confidence as well, the obtained results, are shown in Table 7 , and concern the negative effects of the social media on the level of "dispersion” in the social identity of adolescents obtained a total weight of (4065), weighted relative weight of (67.75%). This indication is a medium, indicating that the level of impact is average. We note from the results and It is clear from the analysis that the negative effects of social media on the level of "dispersion" of the social identity of adolescents, indicating the adolescent is less accepting of himself and his community. He sees himself as "inferior", making his thoughts and behaviors immature. In addition, he is also closer to the character of aggressiveness and may evolve to be psychopathic. This is consistent with James Marcia's assertion in his theory that the rank of "dispersion" of the lowest ranks of identity and it characterized that teenager does not have clear commitments and does not try to discover other options or alternatives and fails to adhere to a fixed ideology. This contradicts the study ( Hattat, 2014 ) which indicated that social networks reduce lack of concentration but the accurate scores and percentages reached by the present study prove that social media have a significant negative impact that leads to more distractions, anxiety, lack of concentration and dispersion.

On the other hand, the obtained results, as shown in Tables 8 and 9, ​ 9,10, 10 , ​ ,11, 11 , and ​ and12 12 pertained to whether the degree of awareness adolescents of the negative effects of social media on levels of their social identity vary according to gender, adjective, age, number years of using, and favorite app. The results indicated that the degree of adolescent's awareness varies according to gender and adjective, with females being more aware of the negative effects of social media than males. maybe due to the fact that females' adolescents are more fearful and cautious about themselves as a result of socialization since childhood started and keener because the amount of accountability of parents to their daughter in the Arab world for the mistakes she makes is more severe and violent than the boy, which is why the girl is more cautious in her relationships with others through social media. It is also worth noting no statistically significant differences in adolescent's awareness were found based on the variables of age, number years of using, and favorite app.

5. Conclusions

From the results above, we can conclude that the value of all negative effects of social media on "levels" the social identity of adolescents from the perspective of social work came to a total weight of (16058), weighted relative weight of (66.9%). This indication is a medium, indicating that the level of impact is average for all negative effects of social media on the levels of social identity in adolescents. It ranked first "Postponement level" at 25.4%, It is followed by the ranked second “Dispersion level" at 25.31%, Then came third place "Achievement level" at 25.03%, Finally in fourth place "Closure level" at 24.26% (see Table 13 , Figure 6 ).

Table 13

Ranking levels of the social identity of adolescents after all negative effects of social media on it.

Figure 6

5.1. In light of this, we reach an important conclusion, which is that

It is necessary taking serious measures from the family, school, and institutions that care for the family and children to pay attention to how to face negative effects of social media on social identity to children and adolescents. Besides working to encourage children and adolescents do not get lost their time and take the largest part of their free time in practicing sports and cultural activities. That corresponds with the study ( Hamdi, 2018 ) which was emphasized in it that the most important motives for the use of social networking sites are entertainment for loss of time.

In addition to another important conclusion is train parents to help their children to make the best use of these sites so as not to be exposed to problems resulting from open communication without restrictions. and this corresponds to a study ( Bu-Abdullah, 2016 ) which was emphasized that parents should know the programs which watching it their teenager child is on the Internet to guide them to useful things on social networks. Hence, the researcher presents her following recommendations.

6. Recommendations

Urge parents to follow their children continuously and guide them in the use of social networking sites.

Educating children about the need to observe the privacy of their information and data, so that it is not accessible to everyone, including strangers.

Educating the awareness of children not to accept video conversations or written conversations or requests for friendship from strangers.

Educating children's awareness of the need to not display their own pictures in public so as not to be copied by strangers and exploited inappropriately.

Urge children to inform their parents of any threat or blackmail they may face from anyone on the internet.

Urge parents to fill the leisure time of their children by encouraging them to practice a hobby or sport they love.

Urge parents not to excessively pamper their children or give them extra money so as not to spoil them.

Increase educational institution awareness seminars for students, giving information on the pros and cons of social networking sites.

Urge parents to establish a bridge of communication between them and their children and follow the method of persuasion, and not intimidation, when adapting their child's behavior on the internet.

Declarations

Author contribution statement.

W. Elsayed: Conceived and designed the experiments; Performed the experiments; Analyzed and interpreted the data; Contributed reagents, materials, analysis tools or data; Wrote the paper.

Funding statement

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability statement

Declaration of interests statement.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

No additional information is available for this paper.

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Just How Harmful Is Social Media? Our Experts Weigh-In.

A recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook was aware of mental health risks linked to the use of its Instagram app but kept those findings secret. Internal research by the social media giant found that Instagram worsened body image issues for one in three teenage girls, and all teenage users of the app linked it to experiences of anxiety and depression. It isn’t the first evidence of social media’s harms. Watchdog groups have identified Facebook and Instagram as avenues for cyberbullying , and reports have linked TikTok to dangerous and antisocial behavior, including a recent spate of school vandalism .

As social media has proliferated worldwide—Facebook has 2.85 billion users—so too have concerns over how the platforms are affecting individual and collective wellbeing. Social media is criticized for being addictive by design and for its role in the spread of misinformation on critical issues from vaccine safety to election integrity, as well as the rise of right-wing extremism. Social media companies, and many users, defend the platforms as avenues for promoting creativity and community-building. And some research has pushed back against the idea that social media raises the risk for depression in teens . So just how healthy or unhealthy is social media?

Two experts from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia Psychiatry share their insights into one crucial aspect of social media’s influence—its effect on the mental health of young people and adults. Deborah Glasofer , associate professor of psychology in psychiatry, conducts psychotherapy development research for adults with eating disorders and teaches about cognitive behavioral therapy. She is the co-author of the book Eating Disorders: What Everyone Needs to Know. Claude Mellins , Professor of medical psychology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Sociomedical Sciences, studies wellbeing among college and graduate students, among other topics, and serves as program director of CopeColumbia, a peer support program for Columbia faculty and staff whose mental health has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She co-led the SHIFT research study to reduce sexual violence among undergraduates. Both use social media.

What do we know about the mental health risks of social media use?

Mellins : Facebook and Instagram and other social media platforms are important sources of socialization and relationship-building for many young people. Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors, and can be detrimental to mental health. Girls and young people who identify as sexual and gender minorities can be especially vulnerable as targets. Young people’s brains are still developing, and as individuals, young people are developing their own identities. What they see on social media can define what is expected in ways that is not accurate and that can be destructive to identity development and self-image. Adolescence is a time of risk-taking, which is both a strength and a vulnerability. Social media can exacerbate risks, as we have seen played out in the news. 

Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors, and can be detrimental to mental health. – Claude Mellins

Glasofer : For those vulnerable to developing an eating disorder, social media may be especially unhelpful because it allows people to easily compare their appearance to their friends, to celebrities, even older images of themselves. Research tells us that how much someone engages with photo-related activities like posting and sharing photos on Facebook or Instagram is associated with less body acceptance and more obsessing about appearance. For adolescent girls in particular, the more time they spend on social media directly relates to how much they absorb the idea that being thin is ideal, are driven to try to become thin, and/or overly scrutinize their own bodies. Also, if someone is vulnerable to an eating disorder, they may be especially attracted to seeking out unhelpful information—which is all too easy to find on social media.

Are there any upsides to social media?

Mellins : For young people, social media provides a platform to help them figure out who they are. For very shy or introverted young people, it can be a way to meet others with similar interests. During the pandemic, social media made it possible for people to connect in ways when in-person socialization was not possible.  Social support and socializing are critical influences on coping and resilience. Friends we couldn’t see in person were available online and allowed us important points of connection. On the other hand, fewer opportunities for in-person interactions with friends and family meant less of a real-world check on some of the negative influences of social media.

Whether it’s social media or in person, a good peer group makes the difference. A group of friends that connects over shared interests like art or music, and is balanced in their outlook on eating and appearance, is a positive. – Deborah Glasofer

Glasofer : Whether it’s social media or in person, a good peer group makes the difference. A group of friends that connects over shared interests like art or music, and is balanced in their outlook on eating and appearance, is a positive. In fact, a good peer group online may be protective against negative in-person influences. For those with a history of eating disorders, there are body-positive and recovery groups on social media. Some people find these groups to be supportive; for others, it’s more beneficial to move on and pursue other interests.

Is there a healthy way to be on social media?

Mellins : If you feel social media is a negative experience, you might need a break. Disengaging with social media permanently is more difficult­—especially for young people. These platforms are powerful tools for connecting and staying up-to-date with friends and family. Social events, too. If you’re not on social media then you’re reliant on your friends to reach out to you personally, which doesn’t always happen. It’s complicated.

Glasofer : When you find yourself feeling badly about yourself in relation to what other people are posting about themselves, then social media is not doing you any favors. If there is anything on social media that is negatively affecting your actions or your choices­—for example, if you’re starting to eat restrictively or exercise excessively—then it’s time to reassess. Parents should check-in with their kids about their lives on social media. In general, I recommend limiting social media— creating boundaries that are reasonable and work for you—so you can be present with people in your life. I also recommend social media vacations. It’s good to take the time to notice the difference between the virtual world and the real world.

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Developing Strong Thesis Statements

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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.

The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable

An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.

Another example of a debatable thesis statement:

In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.

The thesis needs to be narrow

Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a thesis that is too broad:

There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.

Example of a narrow or focused thesis:

In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.

We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:

Narrowed debatable thesis 1:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.

Narrowed debatable thesis 2:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.

Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.

Types of claims

Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:

Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Yes, Social Media Really Is Undermining Democracy

Despite what Meta has to say.

An American flag being punctured by computer cursors

W ithin the past 15 years, social media has insinuated itself into American life more deeply than food-delivery apps into our diets and microplastics into our bloodstreams. Look at stories about conflict, and it’s often lurking in the background. Recent articles on the rising dysfunction within progressive organizations point to the role of Twitter, Slack, and other platforms in prompting “endless and sprawling internal microbattles,” as The Intercept ’s Ryan Grim put it, referring to the ACLU. At a far higher level of conflict, the congressional hearings about the January 6 insurrection show us how Donald Trump’s tweets summoned the mob to Washington and aimed it at the vice president. Far-right groups then used a variety of platforms to coordinate and carry out the attack.

Social media has changed life in America in a thousand ways, and nearly two out of three Americans now believe that these changes are for the worse. But academic researchers have not yet reached a consensus that social media is harmful. That’s been a boon to social-media companies such as Meta, which argues, as did tobacco companies, that the science is not “ settled .”

The lack of consensus leaves open the possibility that social media may not be very harmful. Perhaps we’ve fallen prey to yet another moral panic about a new technology and, as with television, we’ll worry about it less after a few decades of conflicting studies. A different possibility is that social media is quite harmful but is changing too quickly for social scientists to capture its effects. The research community is built on a quasi-moral norm of skepticism: We begin by assuming the null hypothesis (in this case, that social media is not harmful), and we require researchers to show strong, statistically significant evidence in order to publish their findings. This takes time—a couple of years, typically, to conduct and publish a study; five or more years before review papers and meta-analyses come out; sometimes decades before scholars reach agreement. Social-media platforms, meanwhile, can change dramatically in just a few years .

So even if social media really did begin to undermine democracy (and institutional trust and teen mental health ) in the early 2010s, we should not expect social science to “settle” the matter until the 2030s. By then, the effects of social media will be radically different, and the harms done in earlier decades may be irreversible.

Let me back up. This spring, The Atlantic published my essay “ Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid ,” in which I argued that the best way to understand the chaos and fragmentation of American society is to see ourselves as citizens of Babel in the days after God rendered them unable to understand one another.

I showed how a few small changes to the architecture of social-media platforms, implemented from 2009 to 2012, increased the virality of posts on those platforms, which then changed the nature of social relationships. People could spread rumors and half-truths more quickly, and they could more readily sort themselves into homogenous tribes. Even more important, in my view, was that social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook could now be used more easily by anyone to attack anyone. It was as if the platforms had passed out a billion little dart guns, and although most users didn’t want to shoot anyone, three kinds of people began darting others with abandon: the far right, the far left, and trolls.

Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell: The dark psychology of social networks

All of these groups were suddenly given the power to dominate conversations and intimidate dissenters into silence. A fourth group—Russian agents––also got a boost, though they didn’t need to attack people directly. Their long-running project, which ramped up online in 2013, was to fabricate, exaggerate, or simply promote stories that would increase Americans’ hatred of one another and distrust of their institutions.

The essay proved to be surprisingly uncontroversial—or, at least, hardly anyone attacked me on social media. But a few responses were published, including one from Meta (formerly Facebook), which pointed to studies it said contradicted my argument. There was also an essay in The New Yorker by Gideon Lewis-Kraus, who interviewed me and other scholars who study politics and social media. He argued that social media might well be harmful to democracies, but the research literature is too muddy and contradictory to support firm conclusions.

So was my diagnosis correct, or are concerns about social media overblown? It’s a crucial question for the future of our society. As I argued in my essay, critics make us smarter. I’m grateful, therefore, to Meta and the researchers interviewed by Lewis-Kraus for helping me sharpen and extend my argument in three ways.

Are Democracies Becoming More Polarized and Less Healthy?

My essay laid out a wide array of harms that social media has inflicted on society. Political polarization is just one of them, but it is central to the story of rising democratic dysfunction.

Meta questioned whether social media should be blamed for increased polarization. In response to my essay, Meta’s head of research, Pratiti Raychoudhury, pointed to a study by Levi Boxell, Matthew Gentzkow, and Jesse Shapiro that looked at trends in 12 countries and found, she said, “that in some countries polarization was on the rise before Facebook even existed, and in others it has been decreasing while internet and Facebook use increased.” In a recent interview with the podcaster Lex Fridman , Mark Zuckerberg cited this same study in support of a more audacious claim: “Most of the academic studies that I’ve seen actually show that social-media use is correlated with lower polarization.”

Does that study really let social media off the hook? It plotted political polarization based on survey responses in 12 countries, most with data stretching back to the 1970s, and then drew straight lines that best fit the data points over several decades. It’s true that, while some lines sloped upward (meaning that polarization increased across the period as a whole), others sloped downward. But my argument wasn’t about the past 50 years. It was about a phase change that happened in the early 2010s , after Facebook and Twitter changed their architecture to enable hyper-virality.

I emailed Gentzkow to ask whether he could put a “hinge” in the graphs in the early 2010s, to see if the trends in polarization changed direction or accelerated in the past decade. He replied that there was not enough data after 2010 to make such an analysis reliable. He also noted that Meta’s response essay had failed to cite a 2020 article in which he and three colleagues found that randomly assigning participants to deactivate Facebook for the four weeks before the 2018 U.S. midterm elections reduced polarization.

Adrienne LaFrance: ‘History will not judge us kindly’

Meta’s response motivated me to look for additional publications to evaluate what had happened to democracies in the 2010s. I discovered four. One of them found no overall trend in polarization, but like the study by Boxell, Gentzkow, and Shapiro, it had few data points after 2015. The other three had data through 2020, and all three reported substantial increases in polarization and/or declines in the number or quality of democracies around the world.

One of them, a 2022 report from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, found that “liberal democracies peaked in 2012 with 42 countries and are now down to the lowest levels in over 25 years.” It summarized the transformations of global democracy over the past 10 years in stark terms:

Just ten years ago the world looked very different from today. In 2011, there were more countries improving than declining on every aspect of democracy. By 2021 the world has been turned on its head: there are more countries declining than advancing on nearly all democratic aspects captured by V-Dem measures.

The report also notes that “toxic polarization”—signaled by declining “respect for counter-arguments and associated aspects of the deliberative component of democracy”—grew more severe in at least 32 countries.

A paper published one week after my Atlantic essay, by Yunus E. Orhan, found a global spike in democratic “backsliding” since 2008, and linked it to affective polarization, or animosity toward the other side. When affective polarization is high, partisans tolerate antidemocratic behavior by politicians on their own side––such as the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

And finally, the Economist Intelligence Unit reported a global decline in various democratic measures starting after 2015, according to its Democracy Index.

These three studies cannot prove that social media caused the global decline, but—contra Meta and Zuckerberg—they show a global trend toward polarization in the previous decade, the one in which the world embraced social media.

Has Social Media Created Harmful Echo Chambers?

So why did democracies weaken in the 2010s? How might social media have made them more fragmented and less stable? One popular argument contends that social media sorts users into echo chambers––closed communities of like-minded people. Lack of contact with people who hold different viewpoints allows a sort of tribal groupthink to take hold, reducing the quality of everyone’s thinking and the prospects for compromise that are essential in a democratic system.

According to Meta, however, “More and more research discredits the idea that social media algorithms create an echo chamber.” It points to two sources to back up that claim, but many studies show evidence that social media does in fact create echo chambers. Because conflicting studies are common in social-science research, I created a “ collaborative review ” document last year with Chris Bail, a sociologist at Duke University who studies social media. It’s a public Google doc in which we organize the abstracts of all the studies we can find about social media’s impact on democracy, and then we invite other experts to add studies, comments, and criticisms. We cover research on seven different questions, including whether social media promotes echo chambers. After spending time in the document, Lewis-Kraus wrote in The New Yorker : “The upshot seemed to me to be that exactly nothing was unambiguously clear.”

He is certainly right that nothing is unambiguous. But as I have learned from curating three such documents , researchers often reach opposing conclusions because they have “operationalized” the question differently. That is, they have chosen different ways to turn an abstract question (about the prevalence of echo chambers, say) into something concrete and measurable. For example, researchers who choose to measure echo chambers by looking at the diversity of people’s news consumption typically find little evidence that they exist at all. Even partisans end up being exposed to news stories and videos from the other side. Both of the sources that Raychoudhury cited in her defense of Meta mention this idea.

Derek Thompson: Social media is attention alcohol

But researchers who measure echo chambers by looking at social relationships and networks usually find evidence of “homophily”—that is, people tend to engage with others who are similar to themselves. One study of politically engaged Twitter users, for example, found that they “are disproportionately exposed to like-minded information and that information reaches like-minded users more quickly.” So should we throw up our hands and say that the findings are irreconcilable? No, we should integrate them, as the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci did in a 2018 essay . Coming across contrary viewpoints on social media, she wrote, is “not like reading them in a newspaper while sitting alone.” Rather, she said, “it’s like hearing them from the opposing team while sitting with our fellow fans in a football stadium … We bond with our team by yelling at the fans of the other one.” Mere exposure to different sources of news doesn’t automatically break open echo chambers; in fact, it can reinforce them.

These closely bonded groupings can have profound political ramifications, as a couple of my critics in the New Yorker article acknowledged. A major feature of the post-Babel world is that the extremes are now far louder and more influential than before. They may also become more violent. Recent research by Morteza Dehghani and his colleagues at the University of Southern California shows that people are more willing to commit violence when they are immersed in a community they perceive to be morally homogeneous.

This finding seems to be borne out by a statement from the 18-year-old man who recently killed 10 Black Americans at a supermarket in Buffalo. In the Q&A portion of the manifesto attributed to him, he wrote:

Where did you get your current beliefs? Mostly from the internet. There was little to no influence on my personal beliefs by people I met in person.

The killer goes on to claim that he had read information “from all ideologies,” but I find it unlikely that he consumed a balanced informational diet, or, more important, that he hung out online with ideologically diverse users. The fact that he livestreamed his shooting tells us he assumed that his community shared his warped worldview. He could not have found such an extreme yet homogeneous group in his small town 200 miles from Buffalo. But thanks to social media, he found an international fellowship of extreme racists who jointly worshipped past mass murderers and from whom he copied sections of his manifesto.

Is Social Media the Primary Villain in This Story?

In her response to my essay, Raychoudhury did not deny that Meta bore any blame. Rather, her defense was two-pronged, arguing that the research is not yet definitive, and that, in any case, we should be focusing on mainstream media as the primary cause of harm.

Raychoudhury pointed to a study on the role of cable TV and mainstream media as major drivers of partisanship. She is correct to do so: The American culture war has roots going back to the turmoil of the 1960s, which activated evangelicals and other conservatives in the ’70s. Social media (which arrived around 2004 and became truly pernicious, I argue, only after 2009) is indeed a more recent player in this phenomenon.

In my essay, I included a paragraph on this backstory, noting the role of Fox News and the radicalizing Republican Party of the ’90s, but I should have said more. The story of polarization is complex, and political scientists cite a variety of contributing factors , including the growing politicization of the urban-rural divide; rising immigration; the increasing power of big and very partisan donors; the loss of a common enemy when the Soviet Union collapsed; and the loss of the “Greatest Generation,” which had an ethos of service forged in the crisis of the Second World War. And although polarization rose rapidly in the 2010s, the rise began in the ’90s, so I cannot pin the majority of the rise on social media.

But my essay wasn’t primarily about ordinary polarization. I was trying to explain a new dynamic that emerged in the 2010s: the fear of one another , even—and perhaps especially––within groups that share political or cultural affinities. This fear has created a whole new set of social and political problems.

The loss of a common enemy and those other trends with roots in the 20th century can help explain America’s ever nastier cross-party relationships, but they can’t explain why so many college students and professors suddenly began to express more fear, and engage in more self-censorship, around 2015. These mostly left-leaning people weren’t worried about the “other side”; they were afraid of a small number of students who were further to the left, and who enthusiastically hunted for verbal transgressions and used social media to publicly shame offenders.

A few years later, that same fearful dynamic spread to newsrooms , companies , nonprofit organizations , and many other parts of society . The culture war had been running for two or three decades by then, but it changed in the mid-2010s when ordinary people with little to no public profile suddenly became the targets of social-media mobs. Consider the famous 2013 case of Justine Sacco , who tweeted an insensitive joke about her trip to South Africa just before boarding her flight in London and became an international villain by the time she landed in Cape Town. She was fired the next day. Or consider the the far right’s penchant for using social media to publicize the names and photographs of largely unknown local election officials, health officials, and school-board members who refuse to bow to political pressure, and who are then subjected to waves of vitriol, including threats of violence to themselves and their children, simply for doing their jobs. These phenomena, now common to the culture, could not have happened before the advent of hyper-viral social media in 2009.

Matthew Hindman, Nathaniel Lubin, and Trevor Davis: Facebook has a superuser-supremacy problem

This fear of getting shamed, reported, doxxed, fired, or physically attacked is responsible for the self-censorship and silencing of dissent that were the main focus of my essay. When dissent within any group or institution is stifled, the group will become less perceptive, nimble, and effective over time.

Social media may not be the primary cause of polarization, but it is an important cause, and one we can do something about. I believe it is also the primary cause of the epidemic of structural stupidity, as I called it, that has recently afflicted many of America’s key institutions.

What Can We Do to Make Things Better?

My essay presented a series of structural solutions that would allow us to repair some of the damage that social media has caused to our key democratic and epistemic institutions. I proposed three imperatives: (1) harden democratic institutions so that they can withstand chronic anger and mistrust, (2) reform social media so that it becomes less socially corrosive, and (3) better prepare the next generation for democratic citizenship in this new age.

I believe that we should begin implementing these reforms now, even if the science is not yet “settled.” Beyond a reasonable doubt is the appropriate standard of evidence for reviewers guarding admission to a scientific journal, or for jurors establishing guilt in a criminal trial. It is too high a bar for questions about public health or threats to the body politic. A more appropriate standard is the one used in civil trials: the preponderance of evidence. Is social media probably damaging American democracy via at least one of the seven pathways analyzed in our collaborative-review document , or probably not ? I urge readers to examine the document themselves. I also urge the social-science community to find quicker ways to study potential threats such as social media, where platforms and their effects change rapidly. Our motto should be “Move fast and test things.” Collaborative-review documents are one way to speed up the process by which scholars find and respond to one another’s work.

Beyond these structural solutions, I considered adding a short section to the article on what each of us can do as individuals, but it sounded a bit too preachy, so I cut it. I now regret that decision. I should have noted that all of us, as individuals, can be part of the solution by choosing to act with courage, moderation, and compassion. It takes a great deal of resolve to speak publicly or stand your ground when a barrage of snide, disparaging, and otherwise hostile comments is coming at you and nobody rises to your defense (out of fear of getting attacked themselves).

Read: How to fix Twitter—and all of social media

Fortunately, social media does not usually reflect real life, something that more people are beginning to understand. A few years ago, I heard an insight from an older business executive. He noted that before social media, if he received a dozen angry letters or emails from customers, they spurred him to action because he assumed that there must be a thousand other disgruntled customers who didn’t bother to write. But now, if a thousand people like an angry tweet or Facebook post about his company, he assumes that there must be a dozen people who are really upset.

Seeing that social-media outrage is transient and performative should make it easier to withstand, whether you are the president of a university or a parent speaking at a school-board meeting. We can all do more to offer honest dissent and support the dissenters within institutions that have become structurally stupid. We can all get better at listening with an open mind and speaking in order to engage another human being rather than impress an audience. Teaching these skills to our children and our students is crucial, because they are the generation who will have to reinvent deliberative democracy and Tocqueville’s “art of association” for the digital age.

We must act with compassion too. The fear and cruelty of the post-Babel era are a result of its tendency to reward public displays of aggression. Social media has put us all in the middle of a Roman coliseum, and many in the audience want to see conflict and blood. But once we realize that we are the gladiators—tricked into combat so that we might generate “content,” “engagement,” and revenue—we can refuse to fight. We can be more understanding toward our fellow citizens, seeing that we are all being driven mad by companies that use largely the same set of psychological tricks. We can forswear public conflict and use social media to serve our own purposes, which for most people will mean more private communication and fewer public performances.

The post-Babel world will not be rebuilt by today’s technology companies. That work will be left to citizens who understand the forces that brought us to the verge of self-destruction, and who develop the new habits, virtues, technologies, and shared narratives that will allow us to reap the benefits of living and working together in peace.

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