With the combination of current-day teenagers being technologically adept and the widespread accessibility of the internet, teenagers can access excessive amounts of previously inaccessible information. However, not all published information is factually accurate; thus, teenagers are often subject to misinterpretation or receiving misinformation.
Not only does this construct a false reality, but it can also disrupt the natural way humans behave in society.
“Misinformation and fake news can affect people because information affects the way we view the world, and then how we behave in the world. Having accurate information is very important,” Chou said.
Today, social media apps do not regulate the constant outpour of false information, as fake news travels six times faster than the truth. Neutral comments on social media usually do not perform well, prompting users to post incorrect news and facts. Twitter and Instagram are among the first to regulate false information striving to create a better platform for their users.
“If you put something on social media that is inflammatory or negative, it will perform off the charts, so naturally over time if you get billions of users on these platforms and are constantly amplifying the negative and extreme content, you are creating a mass divide between people and eventually no perception of shared understanding between political parties,” Lendl said.
In addition to fake news, social interactions have been affected, as more people feel the need to hide behind a screen.
In schools, adolescents and teenagers have a harder time interacting with others, as technology is constantly controlling them. Not only have interactions between peers been affected, but there has been a significant reduction in youth to parent interactions, with the underlying cause being social media and technology.
Making choices to help better the technology world to take back control and prevent manipulation can lead to a healthier society. It is even as simple as talking with friends and family members about technology and how you feel can make a significant difference today.
To be a part of this movement, one can begin by turning off notifications for social media apps, removing toxic apps, and downloading tools to help one structure time and be informed on how technology is changing.
Lendl said, “Social media is manipulating you, and it has its own profit and financial motive agenda that is taking advantage of your time and relationships. Reflecting and talking about how you feel with friends and family can bring awareness to how you feel.”