In 2018, social media plays a bigger part in our lives than ever. People both young and old use it on an almost daily basis for a variety of different reasons. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, with 2.62 billion social media users worldwide as of this year. Some argue that social media has had a negative effect on our everyday lives. Others believe it has had a positive impact on the way information is shared. The emergence of social media has changed the way we communicate forever, for both bad and good. In my opinion, the positive effects of social media outweigh the negative. Before social media, keeping in touch with friends and relatives abroad was much harder than it is now. Sites like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat not only enable us to chat directly with them but also to see what’s happening in their lives through posts and updates on their page. These platforms can also give people a better insight into their friend’s lives and help them feel more connected to one another. Social media spreads information faster than traditional sources such as television or radio. As a result, many use it as a news source, with 52% of Irish people reporting that they get their news through social media. The immediacy provided by social media has in the past resulted in stories breaking far sooner than by traditional news outlets, such as the Boston marathon bombing in 2013 and the Hudson River plane crash in 2009. Social media can provide a platform for people to voice their opinions and share their interests. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram among other sites are filled with countless accounts and pages dedicated to numerous different topics, including sports, music, movies and TV shows, video games, politics, art, hobbies and much more. These pages give people an opportunity to converse with likeminded individuals and expand their knowledge of a certain subject. There are however some strong arguments against social media. Social networking sites lack privacy and many users share personal information about their lives online. Tweets or Facebook posts from someone’s past can be unearthed in other to discredit them, or discovered by a potential employer. However, this could be simply countered by users being more considerate of what they post online. Social networks gather information on users such as their family and friends, address, workplace, school, and interests. Fortunately, this information is rarely used for malicious purposes and is instead used to curate what content and advertisements you see. Many people can become addicted to social media. This can result in their relationships offline being weakened. Some users, particularly young people, can spend long periods of time browsing social media sites as opposed to doing something more productive such as studying or participating in physical activities. One fifth (22%) of Irish people spend 1-3 hours on social media a day, according to a study carried out by Millward Brown in 2016. While this is a serious problem, especially amongst teenagers, the only ones to blame are the users themselves. Regulating the amount of time you spend online is not as hard as it may seem and can have a positive impact on several different areas of your life. Social media can permit the spread of false and misleading information. Fabricated stories posted on social media sites can receive mainstream attention. Rumours and hoaxes are also commonly posted, including false reports of celebrity deaths and stories relating to the sites themselves. These hoaxes particularly affect young people, who may be more susceptible to false information. Users being more skeptical of what they see on social media sites can prevent this from being a problem. This issue is also not exclusive to social media, as false rumours are also commonly spread offline. The only way to improve the impact social media has on your life is to improve the way you use it. While there are several strong arguments against social media, in my opinion most of them are dependent on how the individual themselves engages with a particular site. Moderating what you post, how long you spend, and what you believe on social media can counter many of the major problems with it. Whatever your viewpoint, it is undisputable that social media has changed the way we communicate forever.