“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.”
Teenagers and Social Media:
When we talk of social media, we see an increasing number of teenagers using the medium. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter and others have already become a 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.
Advantages of Social Media Use by Teens:
In this section, we look at some of the many benefits of social media on 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 social media 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 help 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.
Disadvantages 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 cyber bullying. 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 of eyeliner than usual, they are seriously hurt.
Depression because of cyber bullying 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 exercises 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 pressurize 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.
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 2019. Hit us up in the comments section if you want to share some experiences or add value to the article.