Social media has changed the way the world communicates. According to studies, individuals in the 12-21 age group access this form of communication more than any group. As the popularity of social media increased, it added to the numerous challenges already faced by our youths. Many debates are surrounding social media; however, everyone can agree that there are both positive and negative benefits. People often debate whether it helps or hurts our youth. The excessive time spent on social media by youths has led to many adverse effects with long term consequences.
According to David Amerland, “Social media is addictive precisely because it gives us something which the real world lacks: it gives us immediacy, direction, and value as an individual.” Supporters of social media believe that it helps develop social and communication skills of youths. Many teenagers struggle with meeting new people, and social media provides an easy way for them to build lifelong connections safely. Supporters are also quick to point out the vast amount of information readily available at your fingertips to assist with learning and stimulating the minds of youth. Additionally, social media is great for business and provides many opportunities for any career endeavors for youth by providing easy access to marketing and networking.
Until youths learn the proper way to use social media, the negatives will continue to outweigh the positives. Shihab Kazi stated, “The problem with this generation is that they believe in social media more than people.” This statement has merit because young people spend most of their leisure time interacting with people on social media than they do with face-to-face communications. Studies show that the average teenager engages in social media every hour. It allows youths to pretend to be someone they are not and prevents them from truly getting to know the people they communicate with daily. The battle between the “real” world and a “fake” world exists with “fake” world winning the war.
Because youths spend so much time on social media, it increases the chances of cyberbullying. Additionally, social media is extremely tempting and often becomes addictive to youth. This addiction may result in them becoming withdrawn from family and friends or easily influenced by the people they continuously interact with online. In many situations, youths build stronger relationships with individuals on social media. They perform poorly in social situations and become disinterested in studies.
Although social media may offer business opportunities for young adults, many often fall prey to false advertising and fraud. Youths tend to take all information received at face value and are unable to distinguish fact from fiction.Many savvy con artists are waiting for the perfect opportunity to take advantage of youths that frequent social media.
Erik Qualman stated, “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.” Social media can be an excellent resource for youths if adults show them the proper way of using this information. Unfortunately, many parents use this form of communication as babysitters instead of investing quality with their children.
Parents around the world have turned to social media to raise their kids because it is informative, entertaining, and stimulating. Social media is here to stay; therefore, adults must intervene and show youths the responsible way of processing this information to turn social media into a valuable resource. We must encourage youths to occasionally disconnect from social media and connect to the real world around them. If they try it, they will find that it is far more exciting than the fake world online.
The social media phenomenon is great, but… It is a double-edged sword that can ruin our youth’s childhood and social skills when used inappropriately.