Social Network Impact on Youth
Social media is a term used to describe the interaction between groups or individuals in which they produce, share, and sometimes exchange ideas over the internet and in virtual communities. The impact of social networks on young people is significant. Children are growing up surrounded by mobile devices and interactive social networking sites such as Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook, which has made the social media a vital aspect of their life. Social network is transforming the manner in which young people interact with their parents, peers, as well as how they make use of technology.
The effects of social networking are twofold. On the positive side, social networks can act as invaluable tools for professionals. They achieve this by assisting young professionals to market their skills and seek business opportunities. Social networking sites may also be used to network professionally. On the negative side, the internet is laden with a number of risks associated with online commuinties. Cyber bullying, which refers to a type of bullying that is perpetrated using electronic technology, is one of the risks.
Bullies have taken to internet sites such as Twitter and Facebook, where the hide behind the anonymity provided by the internet to carry out their despicable acts. Young people also run the risk of inadvertently disclosing their personal information since on most occasions; they usually neglect to read carefully websites’ privacy policies. Whenever young people fail to read the policies and disclaimers, they are exposed to risks of having their personal information disclosed. This is especially a serious matter in light o the rising cases of cyber crimes such as identity theft. New studies reveal that social networks have the ability to sway people to spend money by running advertisements on the user’s page . Such forms of near-subliminal advertising can subconsciously cause an individual to buy certain merchandise.
It is becoming increasingly clear that social networks have become part of people’s lives. Many young people are using their tablet computers and smartphones to check Tweets and status updates from their friends and family. As technology advances, people are pressured to adopt different lifestyles. Social networking sites can assist young people to become more socially capable. However, they may also make them clumsy and incompetent, as well. Therefore, it is imperative to exercise caution and restraint when dealing with such issues.
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The Effects of Social Media on Children
By Angela Barnes and Christine Laird
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. Most websites offer communication through the use of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and many various blog formats. With new apps on smartphones and photography and video made digital, media can be created, edited and shared quickly and once it is in this new digital cloud it is not yours anymore. Through these new advances in technology one can share things about themselves to the world to view, and prior to social media one would have to communicate and share physically. These social media site offer adolescence new ways to access communication and entertainment and the long-term effects are still unknown. For this reason, it is imperative for parents to be more aware of this new media and what it offers both good and bad for our children.
Five aspects of the use of social media:
- not many restrictions on creatively expressing oneself
- easy way to share information
- informal support of other’s work
- general understanding and respect of other people’s forms of expression
- an alternative way of socializing (Chau, 2010)
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).
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 aggrssive (Rosen, 2011).
Many forms of cyberbullying is 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).
Carroll, J.A. & Kirkpatrick, R.L. (2011). Impact of social media on adolescent behavioral health. Oakland, CA: California Adolescent Health Collaborative.
Chau, C. (2010). You Tube as a participatory culture. Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 128, 65-74.
Clarke-Pearson, K., O’Keeffe, G., (2011). The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org
Rosen, L.D., (2011). Social Networking’s Good and Bad Impacts on Kids. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org