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It’s not often one can walk past a young adult who is not holding a cell phone or sitting near a computer. As T.S. Eliot once said, “distracted from distraction by distraction.”

Social media is ruining communication skills, fostering inactivity and negatively consuming time in the lives of today’s youth. In the past decade, networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and more have risen in popularity, and are taking over the lives of young people.

The use of these social networking sites promotes an easy way to communicate without having to deal with face-to-face contact. Although it may seem like a fast and simple way to interact, it is causing more harm than good. People can say whatever they want and not be held accountable because they are safely hidden behind their computer or phone. Cyber-bullying has become a crucial issue in today’s society with serious cases that are resulting in young individuals – like Felicia Garcia and Amanda Todd – taking their lives.

With so many ways to talk online, it is not necessary for youth to head into the real world and practice communication skills. Making appointments or meeting with people has an increased intimidation factor because of the lack of face-to-face communication that young people experience. It can cause discomfort and anxiety when they have to meet someone face-to-face because that’s not what they’re used to.

About 15 years ago, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, parks would be filled with teens and their friends tossing a football or throwing a Frisbee. In this era, with the amount of networks available to them on a computer, youth don’t have to leave their house to socialize or even see their friends. Skype, FaceTime and video chats allow a convenience of being with friends with no need for any physical activity. It is even possible to play video games with friends through connections in headsets and microphones. This is not beneficial towards the promotion of leading an active and healthy lifestyle.

Most users check these social networks on a daily basis. It is a time-consuming distraction that makes accomplishing goals or finishing homework very difficult. Sitting in class with a laptop open, the prof’s lecture is boring so Facebook and Twitter are right there to help kill time until class is dismissed. With so much convenience and easy access, it is hard for teens to refuse. Some teens claim to spend time on these networks out of boredom, and others don’t have any justification. Minute by minute, they eat away at the lives of young people.

Although society is being steered in the direction of social networking, it is not necessarily the right one. What does this mean for children who are 10 years old and are already fully engaged in social media? How can it be expected of them to know any different? The world is wrapped around social networks and more and more people are signing up for them out of fear of being left out, or not feeling included.

In Charles Leadbeater’s book, We Think: the Power of Mass Creativity, he puts forth the idea “you are what you share.” It is interesting to look at today’s youth and see how much of their lives are broadcasted on these sites. As a result of this, they lack good communication skills, fall short in physical activity and waste precious time. Life is too short; go outside and talk to people.

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