With everyone pushing Public Relation practitioners to use social media in EVERYTHING they do, some studies are finding that social media is becoming harmful to people, specifically college students. According to an article on the Life Science website researchers are finding that students describe their feelings when they have to abstain from using media in literally the same terms associated with drug and alcohol addictions: in withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery, and crazy.
This creates an ethical decision on my part because I can obviously see the effectiveness of social media in getting the attention of people and targeting them where they are already at but if it can cause them harm is it still okay? I in no way think that social media is on the chopping block but should we step back, as potential PR practitioners, and put the peoples’ wellbeing before our want for money?
In a way everyone has the free will to stop the surfing the internet, Facebook stalking, Tweeting, and blogging and to an extent each person is responsible for their own actions, but should there be regulation on what and where the audience can be targeted? This would probably fall under some constitutional law about freedom of speech and free will, but it is something to think about next time you are trying to reach a specific audience.
What I have been talking about is worst case situations, so I doubt that anything can or will be done about this problem of social media addiction but it is something to consider and think about.