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Social Media: Impact on Youth

Asongla

In recent years, the use of social networks has been growing at an unprecedented speed and has gained so much growth and fame worldwide. Changing the way people communicate, interact and learn. Vast majority of social media users are from the younger generations.  The so called Millennials, or Generation Y (born in the 1980s and 1990s) and Generation Z (born in the 2000s) were the first generations to grow up with computers, the internet and smartphones as integral parts of their everyday lives. These “digital natives” spend on average more than seven hours a day online, on their smartphones or on multiple devices at the same time (PC, laptop, tablet and wearables). As early as elementary school, many students are carrying cell phones. With ready access to the internet and mobile phone technology, social networking has become a phenomenon of unprecedented proportions and is expanding the concept of a social network. This growing group of younger, connected, and mobile workers is managing their careers on their own terms and often outside of categories that have defined the workforce for decades.

The existence of social media brought new meanings to social communication. People are using such technology to reconnect with old friends, maintain current ones and make new relationships. Education field is not apart from that, social media and other technologies are increasingly becoming an essential part of students’ life. Social media can assist younger generations in gaining knowledge of the world and society around them, as they can be updated on news events in real-time. It is transforming the way students interact, learn, and collaborate. Social networking sites have been used as a parallel learning channel or as an extension to the traditional classrooms.

Social media have become prominent parts of life for many young people today because it provides them a variety of ways to go about making positive change. Today, there is a variety of social media channels, many of which can be linked together for users to cross-post. Building digital skills from an early age provides opportunities to successfully navigate life, improve employability and participate in society  which can help make the world a better, more equal place. Increased use of digital media is helping this process.

The concept of the classroom is no longer associated with a defined place and time. Learning becomes self-initiated by students anywhere and anytime. Students can have online learning days where they can interact with people from different parts of the world and share their ideas and debate issues. Not only this, but it is a form of entertainment and as long as it is not overused, can benefit those looking for something to do. Young people can also be in contact with their friends instantly and make connections worldwide also.

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Youth who struggle with social skills, social anxiety, or who don’t have easy access to face-to-face socializing with other youths might benefit from connecting with other youths through social media. Youths tend to interact more on online social networking sites, which will help them to develop new relationships, gain social acceptance and acculturation, and boost their self-esteem and satisfaction.

By connecting with friends through social networking sites youths share all of good and bad experiences with friends. This improves the relationship between friends and thus creating good bonding. Hence by sharing both good and bad experiences with friends, it enables to understand with each other. Sharing one’s experiences with friends also gives mental relaxation. Youths can create pages and groups in the social media platforms based on their professions, faith among other dimensions of their lives and this leads to more connections being built and more opportunities being opened for their respective disciplines. This can even lead to more employment opportunities being created for the unemployed youths.

Technology has many positive aspects but, in the wrong hands, it can become dangerous. Technology brought about social media which is a valuable tool but is somewhat misused. There are many positive aspects, but there are equally as many dangers that come with the use of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google +, Tumblr, Instagram, gaming sites, and blogs. When it comes to safeguarding the interests of young ones over the web, it is essential to follow certain effective steps so that they may not fall prey to deceptive or illegal acts happening across the social media.

Today, young generations grow up having great contact with different kinds of social media. They are easily acquiring digital literacy and live in a digital world. Youths were never inspired by any emerging phenomena that much until social media came to the fore. It has now become an evident and usual sight to face individuals being insensitive to chat in worshipping places, homes when relatives and guests are around, highways, schools, colleges and social gatherings wherein they are so preoccupied and engrossed into their phones that they do not even bother to look up as to where they are which results in their inability to prioritize as to what is important and what isn’t.

cov14Despite the fact that almost everyone in the community is connected to at least one social media platform, the youth and teenagers are the leading and most extreme to the point that they even social network while in class or even in church. Though a majority of younger lots prefer being the part of social media revolution for their benefit, there are many who have unfortunately got addicted to it.

Most of the youth spend lot of time on the internet to visit and check their single or multiple accounts. This will affect students, youth and productivity of work because of the extreme use of technology. This in turn causes the youths not to be self-dependent and instead depend on their parents and families for upkeep. The risks of using social media include physical, emotional, mental health and psychological issues, sleep deprivation,eating disorders, obesity, cyber bulling, lethal comparisons, texting and revelation to problematical and unlawful content and privacy violations. Their level of satisfaction can decrease, and their likelihood of getting into trouble or being depressed can increase

Too much time spent scrolling through social media reduces the number of face-to-face interactions amongst the youths because they normally spend most of their time on these online social platforms that may create a chance for emotional distress in getting frightening, irritating and degrading communication from another teenager which is called cyber bulling and can result in symptoms of anxiety or depression and many other problems. Cyberbullying has also been the cause of many suicides in young people

Today youths use the Internet mainly for social media and sites such as Instagram and Snapchat. However this has been ranked the worst channels for young people’s mental health, causing feelings of anxiety and inadequacy among younger generations struggling with body image or low self-esteem. The need to gain “likes” on social media can cause youth to make choices they would otherwise not make, including altering their appearance, engaging in negative behaviors, and accepting risky social media challenges. Young adults who have a strong Facebook presence show more signs of other psychological disorders, including anti-social behaviours. This may lead to them not wanting to interact with their parents or share about their day in school or college.

Teenagers can misuse social media platforms to spread rumors, share videos aimed at destroying reputations and to blackmail others. Youths can collect thousands of fake friends through friends of friends on social media. The more people on the friend list, the more people have access to screenshot photos, Snaps, and updates and use them for other purposes. There is no privacy on social media. It also leads to misspelling of words and misuse of words and tenses through the use of short forms and abbreviations. This has a high negative impact more so on students because it affects their language capabilities directly and this lead to poor grades in languages.

One problem concerning privacy issues is that many adolescents are unaware of the privacy policies on the social media websites they use and post their information publicly which will affect them when the hackers or people with cruel intension may use their information for wrong purposes. A teenager with anxiety and depression issues, amongst many others, will tend to react to certain minor issues quite drastically, and if quarrels with their parent over a small matter, the illness could worsen. With relatively little time available for actual conversation, this generation of young people struggles to listen or make eye contact or read body language.

Social media should be used in moderation. It is important to remember that the number of likes or shares you receive does not define who you are or your self-worth.

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