Impact of Social Media on the Youth


Social Media has become an important part of our society that it is impossible to imagine our lives without it. Every other person is part of one or many social media platforms, some of the most popular ones being, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, and YouTube. People, especially youth prefer to socialize through these platforms where you can interact with people from different parts of the world by just a click of the button. From giving us new ways to come together and stay connected to the world around us, to providing an outlet for expression, social media has fundamentally changed the way we initiate, build and maintain our relationships. As the popularity of social media is spreading all over the world, there have been mixed feelings about these networking sites.

My quest on how and to what extent social media is impacting the youth, led me to conduct a survey as well as an interview targeting an audience of 17 to 24 years.

I was able to conduct a detailed questionnaire which was responded by 12 participants along with an interview with two persons. The participants’ occupations were mixed – both professionals, as well as students, were part of the research process.


From the research, I was able to gather, that most of my participants used social media networks such as WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.

There are both positive as well as negative impacts of using social media. It is necessary to talk about both sides of social media in order to get an overall idea of the research findings. First, let’s discuss some positive impacts followed by the negative impacts that were found based on the analysis of the results of the research.


  • Exposure

People can interact with other people around the world through social media networks which, empower them in many ways. Social Media becomes a platform where people can showcase their ideas or talents, learn new skills and acquire knowledge through social media.

  • Finding friends

Social media is also able to connect people by using algorithms in a way that normally wouldn’t happen in the real world. The role of algorithms in filtering our results based on our history, location, interests and other details are explained in “The Relevance of Algorithm” by Tarleton Gillespie, the reading that was discussed in class. This reading speaks in detail of the “algorithmic identity” of a person and how this helps in filtering the results to provide us with the best suitable results based on our location, likes/ interests and our profile information. The high possibility of finding long lost friends has been pointed out as an important factor in expanding the social life of these young people.

  • Mental Health

A large number of people mentioned feelings of motivation and inspiration while using social media. Using Facebook, WhatsApp and other apps help in increasing the friendship quality and network size.

  • Interaction

Also, many people who are not comfortable talking face to face feel safe and less intimidated by chatting with a person online. The growth of mass self-communication, the communication that reaches a global audience through p2p networks and internet connection has been talked about in “The Rise of Network Society” by Manuel Castells.


On the flip side, social media has some negative impacts as well.

  • Usage

Also, a large number of people used social networks when they are bored, as soon as they wake up in the morning or before sleeping with more or less no goals to achieve. Most of the people registered using social media for 1 to 5 hours daily. This increased time consumption by using social media may affect their productivity and cause addiction.

  • Physical Interaction

Though social media is widely used for its socializing abilities, it is also criticized for reduced physical socializing capabilities. The impact of Social Media has changed the manner in which we see ourselves, the manner in which we see our personal relationships, plus it has also affected the manner in which we connect with our general surroundings. Most of the participants recorded having a huge number of friends online compared to the limited few who were their actual friends in real life. This may also be due to the fact that many of the youth accept strangers as on social media, making themselves prone to exposing their personal details to a group of strangers.

  • Mental Health

Many young people complained of mental breakdowns. These people are also found to be obsessed with the likes and comments they receive on social media as they mentioned constantly checking and keeping track of the likes they received to account for their popularity. Many youngsters also confirmed how they compared themselves to others on social media by stalking their aesthetically perfect Instagram photos or staying up to date with their relationship status on Facebook. This causes an increase in unrealistic expectations, self-doubt as well as feelings of jealousy

  • Physical Health

There are lots of unhealthy physical effects of social media usage. A large number of people indicated poor posture and eye strain as some of the physical impacts they experienced. One can get eyestrain from staring at screens for too long. Fatigue by staying up too late posting on social media was also an issue found among the youth using social media.


From this survey, I can conclude that most young people are aware of the risks and dangers of social media, yet they do not intend to quit these, as our lives are intertwined with it. Social Media usage, if constantly checked and kept under control, it can outweigh its negative impacts to make the social media platforms a better and effective means of communication. One of the ways of doing this can be by limiting the usage duration by having apps to track your usage and lock you out of your phones for a certain amount of time. Taking some breathing time away from these media can help bring back our conscience to the physical world and create a balance in our lives.

Race After Technology

“Remember to imagine and craft the worlds you cannot live without, just as you dismantle the worlds you cannot live within”


Ruha Benjamin, an Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, founder of the JUST DATA Lab, author of two books – People’s Science and Race after Technology, gave an eye-opening talk on the racist practices of technology. She began by giving a trailer of her latest book Race after Technology, moving on to provide some real-life examples of how racism in technology is exercised. She finally talks about the ‘New Jim Code’, also mentioning the various approaches undertaken in order to counter it. I was also able to identify correlations with the various readings done for the class, addressing it where relevant.

TRAILER OF THE BOOK “Race after Technology

As Ruha Benjamin gives a brief of her book Race after Technology, she brought forth her three provocations. The provocations, as she puts it, are as follows:

1.           Racism is productive or is it?

She states that racism is productive, not in the sense of being good, but in the literal capacity of racism to produce things of value to some, even as it creates havoc on others.

2.          Social inputs make some inventions appear inevitable.

According to Ruha Benjamin, when we think about how racist technology shapes us, we tend to limit this thinking to the social and ethical impacts of technology, but we fail to remember, how all this existed prior to the birth of technology. So, it’s not just the impact of technology, but the social inputs that make some inventions appear inevitable and desirable.

3.          People are forced to live in someone else’s imagination.

As Benjamin declares, imagination is not the afterthought where we have the luxury to dismiss or fantasize, but it is a resource, a battleground that involves the input and output of tech and social order. In fact, she states that most of the people are forced to live inside someone else’s imagination. In other words, racism among other axes of dominance helps produce this fragmented imagination, misery for some and monopoly for others.


•           Citizen app

Ruha Benjamin continues to talk about the real-life practices of racism in technology. She gives an example of a relatively new application called Citizen. This app sends real-time crime alerts based on a curated selection of 911 calls. It also offers a way to report, live-stream and comment on a reported crime act. It shows incidents as red dots on a map so you could avoid supposedly dangerous neighborhoods. According to Ruha Benjamin, the Citizen app gave people the privilege to avoid crimes, rather than stopping it. Likewise, Citizen and other tech fixes for social problems are not simply about technology’s impact on societies, but also about how racial norms and values shape what tools are imagined necessary in the first place.

•           Racist Robots

Further, Benjamin talks about Racist Robots another apt example of how racism works in technology. There were a series of waves that seemed shocked at the idea of how artifacts can have politics. In contrast, some declared, technology inherits its creator’s biases. According to Benjamin, one of the challenges we now face is how to meaningfully differentiate technologies that are used to differentiate us. This coded bias and imagined objectivity is what she termed the ‘New Jim Code’.


Michelle Alexander’s analysis of the New Jim Code considers how the reproduction of racist forms of social controls and successive institutional forms entails a crucial sociotechnical component, that not only hides the nature of domination but allows it to penetrate every facet of social life under the guides of progress. Benjamin provides an example of a targeted ad from the mid-20th century, which entices white families to purchase a home in the particular neighborhood of Los Angeles. Developers were trying to do this by promising them beneficial restrictions, that restricted someone from selling their property to Black people or other unwanted groups. Followed by the rise of the Black Power movement, Fair housing act of 1968, that thought to protect people from housing discrimination when renting or buying a home. She states the four conceptual offspring of the ‘New Jim Code’, around which the chapters are organized. The offsprings of the New Jim Code, as she declares are:

  • Engineered inequity
  • Default discrimination
  • Coded exposure
  • Techno benevolence

There have been some strong restrictions on the New Jim Code. One of the most heartening revelations is that tech industry insiders have recently been speaking out about the most outrageous forms of corporate collusion that involves racism and militarism. She elaborates by citing an example where thousands of Google employees condemn the company’s collaborations on a pentagon program that uses Artificial Intelligence to make drone strikes more effective. This kind of informed refusal is certainly necessary as we build a movement to counter the New Jim Code. However, according to Benjamin, we can’t wait for the workers’ sympathy to sway the industry. Initiatives like Data for Black Lives and the Detroit Community Technology Project offer a more far-reaching approach, the former brings together people working in a number of agencies and organizations in a proactive approach to tech justice, especially at the policy level. One of the concrete collaborations that has grown out of Data for Black Lives was last year when several government agencies, including the police department and public support system, formed a controversial joint power agreement called Innovation Project, giving agencies broad discretions to collect and share data on young people with the goal of developing predictive tools to identify drug use in the city. There was an immediate and broad-based backlash from the community with the support of Data for Black Lives. In 2017, a group of over 20 localizations formed what they called “Stop the cradle to prison algorithm”. This coalition asks for a better process moving forward, and structural input into advancing upstream interventions. In “Finding Augusta” Heidi talks about how people are getting accustomed to Google which in return of their free service, stores your data and history in order to track users’ preferences and interests to get targeted ads, as the one mentioned previously by Benjamin.


She concludes by talking about Harvard Professor Derick’s radical assessment of reality through creative methods and racial reversals insisting “To see things as they really are……you must imagine them as what they might be”.

All in all, the talk was a great one with enlightening thoughts about technology’s racist side, something I had usually overlooked. Her thoughts were strong and to the point with solid examples to back them.