Who Should Read an Article on the Pros and Cons of Social Media?
If you are a parent, teacher, educationist, or an elder simply trying to guide children towards a better future.
“The generation growing up in the years of social media is referred to as ‘Social Media Natives’. They are also called ‘Generation Z’. On average, members of Gen Z are born after 1997 and are between 22 and 7 years of age.”
Social media is all around us. No matter how much we try to ignore it, it has permeated the social fabric of our society. Everyone from teenagers to their grandparents is active on social media platforms.
However, with all its positives and benefits, there are some serious issues and problems with regard to social media use. In this article, we are going to look at the major pros and cons of social media use. We take help from some of the leading counselors and observers that have written and spoken about the issue of social media use in teens.
Teenagers and Social Media:
When we talk about social media, we see an increasing number of teenagers using the medium. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, and others have already become significant addition to their lives.
Facebook heavily influenced the millennial generation. However, teenagers of today use Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube more than they use Facebook. This is not to say that they do not have profiles on Facebook.
In order to tap this growing market, brands and businesses are heavily investing in social media. According to some statistics, 72% of teenagers buy a product after seeing it on Instagram or Twitter.
Teenagers are using social media too-
- Stay in touch with their friends
- Make new friends
- Keeping themselves up to date with what’s trending
- Shopping online
- News and information
However, the increased use of social media by teens has generated mixed and polarizing views and opinions. Let us now compare the pros and cons of social media for your teen.
Pros of Social Media Use by Teens:
In this section, we look at some of the many benefits of social media for teens. There are many that can be listed, however, we would stick to just the top three.
1. Up to date with the Latest News and Information:
I have seen that my nephew knows more about the latest developments in the world than any other member of the family does.
News and information break out faster on social media than it does on traditional media. By staying on social media, teenagers know more about global happenings and issues affecting the world.
Issues like Global Warming, Terrorism, Sexual Harassment (Me Too Movement), and other happenings keep adding to their knowledge base.
2. Helps in Studies and Research:
Having access to the internet and social media has meant that teenagers are doing all their study-related research online. They are creating case studies, presentations, and tutorial submissions all with the help of information from social media.
Educative and informative brands are also venturing into the social media platform to help students and aid their businesses.
The traditional reliance on tutors, parents, or relatives is giving way to independence and confidence. This is a welcome development as confidence in one’s abilities is increasing.
3. Growing Self Respect and Self Esteem:
The presence of many helpful pages and communities on social media helps teenagers deal with many issues affecting them. Pages on sexual harassment, drug abuse, disabilities, depression, and others have helped millions of teenagers all over the world.
Sometimes, it gets very difficult for teenagers to open up about sensitive issues in front of their parents. These pages help them by giving them a patient hearing. In most cases, after discussing their problems, they seek active help to deal with issues.
Communities end up being second families and support groups to many.
Cons of Social Media Use by Teens:
Having discussed the benefits of social media use by teenagers in the previous section, let us now look at some of the major disadvantages of social media for teenagers.
1. Cyber Bullying:
One of the biggest dangers of social media is cyberbullying. In fact, for many, it has become a menace. ‘Trolling’ has become a full-time occupation. The worst-hit people from trolling are teenagers.
Teenagers are still growing and maturing. They look at social media as a world of acceptance. When they are ridiculed for being a little on the healthy side, or using a bit more eyeliner than usual, they are seriously hurt.
Depression because of cyberbullying is a real thing. Many therapists have reported teenagers coming in because of being bullied with a morphed photo, bad comments, stalking, and many other unhealthy practices.
2. Losing Touch with Reality:
As teenagers spend more and more time online, they tend to forget about enjoying or even living the real world offline. An increasing worrisome trend is the presence of empty parks, recreational facilities, and sports centers.
As more teenagers are cooped up in front of their smartphones or tablets, they forget what it is like to spend time outdoors playing, hiking, or swimming. They are becoming isolated with every passing day.
Lack of physical exercise also means that the obesity rate amongst teenagers is growing alarmingly. Obesity in developed countries like the USA and others are reaching endemic proportions.
3. Giving in to Social Pressure:
Let us face it- social media is an increasingly pretentious world. It has created rules to fit in. Teenagers are constantly under stress and pressure to ‘fit in’ or feel accepted. Many feel that they have to post every day for them to be relevant in the world of social media.
This means that they pressure parents to buy them unnecessary things, which they can post online. When they are not being able to post regularly about their happening lives, they feel disconnected.
This pressure of staying relevant in groups on social media creates depression, loss of touch with parents, and unmitigated trauma.
Why Should Parents Pay Attention to the Pros and Cons of Social Media for Youth
We are living in quite challenging times. The advent of the pandemic has meant that children are spending much more time online than they used to.
If as a parent you thought that your kid was spending far too much time on their smartphone and tablets, chances are that was way less than what is happening today. Many educationists and counselors point out that while technology and digital use can be productive, it would be foolish to ignore the red flags.
Parents should take Strong Steps if they see their children-
- Are not engaging in normal activities like sleeping properly or eating well. It might be a sign that something online is troubling them.
- Falling behind suddenly in their academic performances. This can be because something is distracting them from their coursework.
- Using their smartphones at odd hours of the day, like late nights and early mornings. They might be communicating with strangers that are not of a good character.
- Have stopped talking to or hanging out with their old friends. This can be a sign that they feel that friends would be judgmental about something they are doing online.
- Their expenditures have suddenly increased. They are buying too many things online or investing in shady businesses that they shouldn’t be doing.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic has Increased Social Media Use by Teenagers?
Any blog article on the pros and cons of social media for teens cannot be complete without a reference to the pandemic.
Just to put out this observation in terms of numbers, the following are some statistics that should interest you-
- Social media consumption has increased by 70% in the first five months of the pandemic.
- The period has seen a 45% increase in the number of postings that are being done by social media users.
- TikTok and Instagram have emerged as the pre-eminent social platforms that have seen an increase of 80% and 85% respectively in logged times.
While there are many other statistics to check and see, looking at the three above can give you a fair idea about how the pandemic has shaped social media use.
With lockdowns in place, teenagers had no other option apart from using online platforms. As mentioned at the start of the article, they used the same for many purposes. From communicating with friends to entertaining themselves, social media use seen an incremental rise during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Teenagers and Social Media: The Final Word
Social media and its use by teenagers is a double-edged sword. While it offers many benefits, one cannot deny its many frailties too. There is no set rule as to how much time on social media is good for teenagers.
This is where parents have to do their extra bit and inspire confidence in their children. By keeping an open mind and establishing dialogue, they can be aware of what their child scrolls through on social media.
It is not a bad idea to demarcate periods for social media use. Parents can do this not only for social media but also for outdoor playing time, television time, family time, etc.
This way you will ensure that your teenager will not get rebellious because of being denied access to social media at all. Regulation and moderation is always a good thing.
Do let us know what you think about the use of social media by teenagers in 2021. Hit us up in the comments section if you want to share some experiences or add value to the article.