The importance of social media influence on children and teenagers can hardly be overestimated. Firstly, because any strong effect applied during these formative years of personal development is bound to have long-lasting ramifications, probably affecting the individual’s entire life. Secondly, because it is this particular age demographic that is the most active in using social media – according to a report issued by Common Sense Media, about 75 percent of American teenagers have active profiles on at least one social networking website, and 68 percent of them habitually use Facebook as their primary social networking tool. Such ubiquity makes both positive and negative effects of social media extremely important to understand and control – yet we are still far away from grasping the entire picture.
On the one hand, social media serve as an incredibly powerful instrument for broadening one’s social horizons. Getting to know new people, starting useful acquaintances with individuals you could never meet otherwise, learning new skills, getting instruction and assistance – all these possibilities are quite helpful and make modern teenagers much more flexible than their earlier counterparts. Moreover, social networks are now widely used in business promotion; thus, going through such activities every day, children and teenagers grasp the techniques applied in the business processes. It means that in the future it will be much easier for them to integrate into marketing strategies when they are all set for the adult life.
Yet there is another, darker and grimmer side to the social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and suchlike are real time eaters. Because of them, students very often do not manage to hand in their assignments because social networks offer interesting opportunities to procrastinate instead of doing homework. Of course, not all children give in to temptation but they still waste much time on browsing Facebook feed or reading news on Twitter. As a result, students stay up late to complete their homework and sleep deprivation rates are only rising.
In addition to commonly spread fears of possible negative side-effects of moving most of human communication into this depersonalized mode, there are such things as cyber-bullying, sexting and even entirely new disorders and conditions such as “Facebook depression”, which pose a much more immediate threat. It is also important not to forget that among the new and fascinating people one can meet on social media there are ones who are better to avoid. It is also much easier to conceal one’s personality and appear as somebody different on the Internet than in real life. This makes filtering out dubious individuals on social media harder than when you meet people personally.
All in all, social media, just like all other developments and novelties, has both positive and negative effects; we are just yet to see which outweigh which.
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