Facebook and Psychological Effects


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The Facebook as a social media has emerged as a fundamental tool for communication purposes in the modern age. The platform provides a unique space for the users to share information, including photos and videos, create and share blogs, and motivate interactions between individuals and groups. Research done in this area entails the effect of joining and utilizing the social media, such as Facebook. The majority of the users of Facebook and other social networking sites are the young people, including teenagers and even children. The regularity of the use of Facebook is implicated with serious psychological effect on the users, including possible effects on wellbeing and self-esteem. However, the question of whether Facebook has positive or detrimental effects on the psychological well-being of the users remains a controversial issue. In essence, the rationale of this discussion will be anchored on two premises where some authors argue for the positive effects (Gonzales and Hancock, 2011), while others have suggested that Facebook does not have positive psychological effects on the users (O’Keeffe et al., 2011).

Summary of Positions

Positive Effect

A study testing the effect of Facebook use on self-esteem pointed to the potential of a positive relationship between the two variables. Gonzales and Hancock (2011) revealed that selective self-presentation, which is made possible by the use of social networking sites like Facebook, has the likelihood for constructive effect on the self-esteem of the users. The results of the study are contrary to the prediction made by OSA theory, which proposes that stimuli stimulating self-awareness tend to trigger inconsistencies between the self and social standards, resulting in lowered self-esteem. Rather, the findings elucidate that the power of information sharing, provided by Facebook improves self-esteem.

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The results were found to garner the support of Walther’s Hyperpersonal Model suggesting that the potential for selective presentation resulting from the user-generated content allows for a greater level of self-efficacy, which is in turn associated with higher self-esteem. It is possible that the use of the media allows a sort of control over the content, which boosts the self-esteem of the user. The reality that the person presents that which he/she deems positive about oneself offers the positive psychological effect. Facebook is a unique means of communication since it allows for self-awareness, especially when one has to share personal information, hence, boosting the feeling of self-control.

Negative Effect

Opponents of the excessive use of social media, especially by the youth, have suggested the negative effect the use has on the psychological wellbeing of the users. There has been an increase in the use of Facebook, and in most cases, the young people are using the media without having in place any checks or controls. Use of Facebook, among other social networking sites, has become the most important social activity for the teenagers and children today. The sites are a source of communication and entertainment, but not without negative ramifications on the users. Clearly, the young people are using the social networking sites without any guidelines, which have created the potential for exposure to harmful content.

Not all the information available on the social media is good for the consumption by the developing minds. There is potential for exposure to sexual-explicit content, which is harmful to the young people who are not in place to control their access. There are other issues associated with the unsupervised use of the social media, including cyberbullying and “Facebook depression.”

Experts in psychology have suggested that the cognitive capabilities of children and adolescents are still developing. Therefore, whatever information they are exposed to, has the potential to either promote or hinder positive psychological development (Tarsha, 2016). It is for this reason that O’Keeffe et al., (2011) propose an adequate supervision of Facebook use by children and adolescents.

Statement of Position

There is no doubt that Facebook has developed as a very important tool for communication and social interactions. In fact, it is evident that the trend will persist and the state will not revert to the situation when the social media had not existed. However, it is also real that the young people have the potential to use undesirably the Facebook, hence, resulting in more negative than positive effects on their psychological well-being, especially the issues related to self-esteem. The research showing a positive relationship between social media use and self-esteem is founded on a responsible view of social media use. However, in reality, when children and adolescents are exposed to social media, especially without supervision, the question of responsible use cannot apply.

When the focus of the possible effects is on children and adolescents, the impacts of social media use on individuals’ psychology are more negative than positive. These users do not understand the meaning of responsible use and can be carried away by the information contained, some of which is inappropriate for them. There are users of the social media who take advantage of the innocence of these young users providing them with damaging content. In short, where the young people use Facebook and other social media sites, particularly devoid of supervision, the potential psychological damage is serious. For possible positive effects, responsible adults should supervise and regulate the use of social media by children and adolescents.

Application in a Multicultural Context

The use of social media cuts across different cultures, especially in the developed countries such as the United States. Indeed, based on the technological development within various cultures, a high percentage of the children and adolescents have access to the social media. On the other hand, the trends have a negative correlation, especially to those people from low socio-economic backgrounds who do not have such high rate of access to technology. Hence, when investigating the issue of the negative effect of social media, it would be imperative to establish those cultures with higher access as opposed to those who do not have such high admittance. It is expected for the people from higher socio-economic backgrounds to adopt a culture of consuming technology as a way of passing time or as a hobby. As such, the culture exposes the children to the detrimental effects of social media.

Application to the Literacies

Critical Literacy

Critical thinking relates to the potential for the scholars in a particular subject or topic to present reasoned arguments regarding the side of the debate they assume. In the case of the effects of Facebook, from reading the two sides of the argument, it is possible to see sense in whatever argument presented. Gonzales and Hancock (2011) are critical about their support for the positive association between social media use and self-esteem. On the other hand, O’Keeffe et al., (2011) also critically present their argument in opposition to the positive effects. In addition, in the position that the writer takes, there should be evidence of critical thinking such that one can convince the reader that the arguments are grounded and valid. Critical thinking is the basis for providing a convincing argument on a controversial topic.

Civic Literacy

Civic literacy relates to the impact of the controversial topic on society. It also relates to the efforts to address the problem or issue that has a negative effect on the people or society in general. If established to have negative as opposed to positive effects on children and adolescents, then Facebook use is a problem that should be addressed. The children and adolescents are the future of the society and should be protected from any issues that have the potential to harm their psychological wellbeing. Therefore, the position assumed by the discussion is critical to informing the steps that should be assumed in protecting the future of the society. O’Keeffe et al., (2011) propose some of the measures that can be assumed in mitigating the negative effects, including active supervision and imposing regulatory measures on the use of social media.

Science Literacy

Science literacy relates to the use of established evidence in proving a case. Whatever side one takes, it is critical to have convincing facts from collection and analysis of data. In fact, this kind of evidence has the potential for strengthening the argument and the case presented by the author(s). Credible and scientific data support the two sides of the argument, emanating from empirical studies. In addition, given the controversial nature of the topic, the scholars provide the basis for further debate on the topic. They are source of evidence-based information informing the debate on the psychological effects of social media use.

Values Literacy

Actions within the society are founded on values that are generally acceptable within the society. The question of whether or not Facebook has negative or positive effects on the users relates to values inherent within the particular society. For instance, if established to have negative effects, then the use of social media goes contrary to the values of the society. Sharing of sexual-explicit information or using the social media to bully, goes contrary to social values. Hence, it is critical to establish the actual effects of social media, to ensure that the communication tools align with the values taught to the children within their society. In essence, the values should not only be taught to the children but should also be promoted in all the actions that they engage in.


Social media use remains a controversial topic, particularly in the face of the increase in its use in the modern society. Facebook, a social media tool, is one of the most common tools being used even by young children and adolescents. Some scholars claim that the social media has a positive relationship with self-esteem. However, others authors find the social media as destructive to the psychological wellbeing of the users, especially children and adolescents. There is no doubt that social media has the potential for positive use, but without supervision, it has the potential to harm the young and developing minds. Therefore, to protect the children and adolescents, it is necessary to understand the potential for destructive effects and implement controls for more responsible use. In essence, the parents, pediatricians, teachers, and other responsible adults should devise measures to protect the young people from the negative effects of social media use.

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