Social Media and its effect on Children
Social Networking sites are termed to as web-based services that give an opportunity to individuals to create their own personal profile with the choice of their own list of users and thereby connect with them in an altogether public forum that provides them with features such as chatting, blogging, video calling, mobile connectivity and video/photo sharing. Social media is quickly evolving in front of our eyes and it is almost impossible to reject and hide from this new form of media. Not only is it an important part of socialization within peer groups but now it is used to market and motivate people to become a part of a larger community. It is undeniably changing the way one communicates and how one finds and shares information. People spend more than usual hours on social networking sites to download pictures, browse through updates seek entertainment and chat around with friends to keep themselves connected to one another. These sites have held an addiction to the youth wherein they find it difficult to concentrate on their work and prefer logging in and jumping across one site to another. Some have derived benefit out of these sites whereas some have become academically challenged by the use of these websites. Individuals have set their own limits as to when and when not to access these websites but we witness very few out of the lot who do not access or make use of these sites at all.
Positive Effects of Social Media on Children and Adolescents:
There are many ways social media can be used by youth in a positive way. It is not just an avenue for socializing; kids and adolescents can be creative, interact, and learn (Chau, 2010). Social networking provides an alternative way to get students interested in learning with a new and previously unconventional medium (Rosen, 2011). It can also help with “homework and group projects” (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
Even though social media isn’t only used for social interaction, it is an important aspect of adolescents’ lives. Social media provides an avenue for them to stay connected with peers they have met through school, sports teams, church, etc (Ito, 2008). Social networking can also help shy adolescents have a more non-threatening way to interact with peers because they aren’t interacting face-to-face (Rosen, 2011).
It also provides an opportunity for teens to connect with others who share a similar interest (Ito, 2008). Social media sites can provide a place for adolescents to share their interests in art, music, games, and blogs with others (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
The teen years can be a challenging time, and social networks can be places for teens to turn to for support and advice when going through challenging experiences (Nielsen, 2009). Adolescents who use Facebook have been shown to demonstrate more “virtual empathy” (Rosen, 2011). Social networking can be a positive and somewhat easier way for adolescents to get to know and become accepting of others from “diverse backgrounds” (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011). As well as providing social support, social media sites can also provide medical support. Adolescents can easily and anonymously seek medical advice (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
Children and adolescents are capable of impacting their communities and even the world in amazing ways. Social media provides them a variety of ways to go about making positive change. Some examples are implementing fundraising campaigns and getting involved in “political events” (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
Information spreads faster online than any other media. More than 50% learn about breaking news on social media. Social media sites inform and empower individuals to change themselves and their communities.
Negative Effects of Social Media on Children and Adolescents:
Although there are many positive aspects of social media, the negative effects on children and adolescents are also numerous. Social media can affect the mental health of teens. The level of effect, according to research, seems to go up as teens’ use goes up. Their level of contentment can decrease, and their likelihood of getting into trouble or being depressed can increase (Rideout, 2010). Also, teens who use Facebook tend to be more narcissistic, antisocial, and aggressive (Rosen, 2011).
Many forms of cyberbullying are also a problem and can lead to the victims experiencing depression and anxiety. Cyberbullying has also been the cause of many suicides in young people (Kowalski, 2009).
It is bad enough that there are adolescents who are victims of negative comments by peers, but many are victimized by strangers as well. Many young online users are lured by online sexual predators (Ybarra, 2007).
Because of adolescents and their parents being concerned about the above-mentioned risks, more teens care about privacy issues (Youn, 2009). One problem concerning privacy issues is that many adolescents are unaware of the privacy policies on the social media websites they use (Cox, 2007).
Many adolescents are influenced by the powerful advertising they see on social media sites, and it strongly influences their buying habits. Many of them are not aware that they are individually targeted because the sites keep track of their habits and demographics. These young people and their parents need to be aware of how they are targeted so smarter choices can be made around their spending habits (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
As with just about everything, social media should be used in moderation. Studies have shown that adolescents and even college students who are on Facebook too much have lower grades (Rosen, 2011).
August 13, 2017