The importance of social media influence on children and teenagers can hardly be overestimated. Firstly, because any strong effect applied during these formative years of personal development is bound to have long-lasting ramifications, probably affecting the individual’s entire life. Secondly, because it is this particular age demographic that is the most active in using social media – according to a report issued by Common Sense Media, about 75 percent of American teenagers have active profiles on at least one social networking website, and 68 percent of them habitually use Facebook as their primary social networking tool. Such ubiquity makes both positive and negative effects of social media extremely important to understand and control – yet we are still far away from grasping the entire picture.
On the one hand, social media serve as an incredibly powerful instrument for broadening one’s social horizons. Getting to know new people, starting useful acquaintances with individuals you could never meet otherwise, learning new skills, getting instruction and assistance – all these possibilities are quite helpful and make modern teenagers much more flexible than their earlier counterparts. Moreover, social networks are now widely used in business promotion; thus, going through such activities every day, children and teenagers grasp the techniques applied in the business processes. It means that in the future it will be much easier for them to integrate into marketing strategies when they are all set for the adult life.
Yet there is another, darker and grimmer side to the social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and suchlike are real time eaters. Because of them, students very often do not manage to hand in their assignments because social networks offer interesting opportunities to procrastinate instead of doing homework. Of course, not all children give in to temptation but they still waste much time on browsing Facebook feed or reading news on Twitter. As a result, students stay up late to complete their homework and sleep deprivation rates are only rising.
In addition to commonly spread fears of possible negative side-effects of moving most of human communication into this depersonalized mode, there are such things as cyber-bullying, sexting and even entirely new disorders and conditions such as “Facebook depression”, which pose a much more immediate threat. It is also important not to forget that among the new and fascinating people one can meet on social media there are ones who are better to avoid. It is also much easier to conceal one’s personality and appear as somebody different on the Internet than in real life. This makes filtering out dubious individuals on social media harder than when you meet people personally.
All in all, social media, just like all other developments and novelties, has both positive and negative effects; we are just yet to see which outweigh which.
- Chan, T.H. “Facebook and its Effects on Users’ Empathic Social Skills and Life Satisfaction: A Double Edged Sword Effect”. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 17 (5): 276-280. Print
- Eick, C.J., D.T. King. “Non-science majors’ perceptions on the use of YouTube video to support learning in an integrated science lecture.” Journal of College Science Teaching 42 (1): 26-30. Print
- Junco, R., G. Heiberger, E. Loken. “The Effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades.” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 27 (2): 119-132. Print
- O’Keefe, G.S., K. Clarke-Pearson. “The Impact of Social Medial on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” American Academy of Pediatrics 127: 800-804. Print
- Vogel, Erin A. “Who Compares and Despairs? The Effect of Social Comparison Orientation on Social Media Use and its Outcomes”. Personality and Individual Differences 86: 249-256. Print
- Wang, Z., J.M. Tchernev, T. Solloway. “A dynamic longitudinal examination of social media use, needs and gratifications among college students.” Computers in Human Behavior 28 (5): 1829-1839. Print
- Williams, Alex. “Move over, Millenials, Here Comes Generation Z.” The New York Times. Sept. 18 2015
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Social media and is a fantastic way to get people to express themselves. Whether it it be via a Facebook status, writing on walls, Twitter updates, photos you share, these are all extensions of you and your personality. They help portray your interests, your views and help show people who you are. They offer a platform for you to be yourself, to be creative, to be who you want to be and most importantly, have an audience for all of this.
Unlike in the real world, where social etiquette and manners can sometimes seem restrictive and limiting , people feel they have a greater sense of freedom of expression and/or of speech when using online networks. Of course, content is monitored and can be removed, but with millions of users on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, even YouTube, not every single status, photo or comment can be watched, evaluated and completely controlled. This has arguably lead to a rise in expressions, feelings and ideas from people who may otherwise find it hard to portray themselves how they would like in person and face-to-face with others.
Essentially, social media has changed the way we are able to communicate and behave, not only in groups and society, but with each other.
What are the possible consequences of this new found, or at least newly perceived, freedom of expression?
For people who find it difficult to interact with others in person, the Internet gives them a great way of communicating and not having to feel self conscious or nervous. Everyone has a the right to say what they think and feel and so this is a good way for those less confident to make their stand. It provides a level playing field if you like. When someone feels happy and comfortable, they can express themselves more eloquently and possibly even gain themselves a wide audience which they may otherwise have found difficult to achieve. Why stand in front of hundreds of people and talk if you find that hard, when you can sit at home behind a screen and write about your topics and still get the audience?
Whether it is personal or business, such as marketing, you can get your news and views out there. Arguably, it is just as, or even more effective, than a conference room. The power of the re-tweet or Like buttons should not be scowled at. This means that the story or a view of a shy individual can reach a larger audience than it might if they were stood up in front if you making this type of media particularly effective.
Social media can help you be your self and invoke confidence to those who need it. This is because you are not having to face personal and intimate criticism or nerves because you do not have to see anyone who may be critical about you. Written comments can inspire healthy debate as you have time to compose yourself, whereas, people criticising you in person can be difficult, cause you to panic and cause you to be defensive. Everyone deserves to have confidence in themselves and their beliefs, and networking can help inspire and educate people in this.
This level of freedom does has its draw backs.
People with more fundamental or perhaps morally questionable views than your average Joe can cause stirs and discomfort. Now, people have the right to believe in what they want but when they express these more extreme views, or attack other people (sexism, racism for example), that offense can be taken and problems begin.
For Example, the man behind the recent attacks in Norway used Twitter to send out his views on the world before he carried out the attacks. Maybe more regulation is needed to help police more extreme views,
A Twitter account attributed to the suspect has also emerged but it only has one post, which is a quote from philosopher John Stuart Mill: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests."-Courtesy of BBC News Online
Maybe stricter online control and regulations would help alert the authorities in some cases? There is no way to know and it's a very grey area to cover. There may not even be a right or wrong answer to this question.
On a personal aspect, social media can be used for internet bullying and victimising. It gives people the opportunity to upset and gossip 24/7. Online bullying is a serious problem and should not be over looked or dismissed. The victims of bullying at school for example, like to go home and escape, not sign into their computer to be faced with more endless hurtful words.
A Rock And A Hard Place
Social media is a gift. It can be used to make or break a business. It can also make or break a person. The truth is, the moral problems about freedom and expression in real life, can now be applied to the virtual world. Whether we like it or not, or even agree with it, it's liberal enough to be good for people to express themselves and find themselves. It's also liberal enough to provide a soap box for less appropriate beliefs.
~BBC News quote: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14259989