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Addiction, bullying and fun – my experience with social media as a teenager

By Nathan Hunt

It feels like I’ve always been on social media. My first social media was Facebook and I created an account when I was 12 years old.

My Mum didn’t want me to be on Facebook until I was thirteen; however I kept it on the low down as all of my friends had an account at the time. I just wanted to see what all the hype was about.

I would religiously use Facebook every day, before school and after school to stay connected with all of my friends, and also to witness the latest gossip that was going around. As I didn’t really follow many pages at the time, there wasn’t a lot of bad content on the site (at least for me).

Toxic Facebook posts

I only watched funny videos, ‘liked’ pictures, and read status updates. However as more people started to use Facebook, and as I gained more “friends” on the site, I started to see more toxic posts where kids at school would post indirect, and sometimes hateful comments towards others that they’d fallen out with or just didn’t like.

This impacted on school life too, as people would avoid interacting with certain kids. I didn’t involve myself with the bullying, so it had no effect on me, however some kids in my year were getting upset because of the comments that were made online.

There were a lot of smaller friendship groups as a result of this because of children breaking off from their original friends.

How my mum killed Facebook

After about two years, this subsided, and the use of Facebook slightly died down in our school and it got replaced with other social networks such as Instagram and Twitter. Facebook started to become the place where users just posted family pictures and shared funny videos from the likes of “Unilad” and “TheLadBible”.

In my experience, the toxic comments died down in the end and everyone got on with each other and had no issues. People became friends again and overall there was less drama as less people used Facebook.

Another reason people stopped the bullying was because their parents were joining social media and people didn’t want to make a bad impression on them.

My Mum is on Facebook, and there are some pages and posts that I don’t ‘like’ to avoid raising questions.

The Instagram impact

Facebook also became a lot more business orientated. This was because more age groups started to use it which meant businesses can market their products to a wider range of people.

As I started to use Instagram a lot more over Facebook, it was clear that this site was used to post selfies, group pictures at parties, and more. One of the reasons people started to use Instagram over Facebook was because people would share too many posts. This made people’s news feeds cluttered, especially when they had over a thousand friends.

Instagram seemed to be cleaner and the user can choose exactly how they want their feed to look, by following pages that they are interested in. My feed mostly consists of modified cars.

There is an option to view what your friends like and comment on, however this tab is hidden away from the news feed section which some people prefer.

Addicted to YouTube

Then there’s YouTube, which has evolved a lot over time. In fact, in 2016 it was found that 6 out of 10 people preferred watching online videos to live TV (which includes me).

This is my favourite social media, and it would be fair to say that I’m relatively addicted to it. The trends on YouTube 10 years ago included watching cats talk, or perform some personified action such as walking through a room.

Now, in 2017, YouTube is full of click bait videos to gain views, and to obtain more ad revenue for the content creator. This is because YouTube is a career for certain entertainers, so they need to produce engaging content for people to click on.

I’ve been watching YouTube since 2010. I created an account with a friend in 2015 which now has over 2,000 subscribers.  I’ve learnt a lot about the habits of viewers, and what people want and don’t want to see.

However, advantages include worldwide connectivity, being able to find people that share the same interests with you and befriend them easily, and overall you can kill time and procrastinate on it.

I’m going to stick with social media throughout my life, as it’s thought provoking and very engaging, and it will always continue to innovate.

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