Social media has both positive and negative effects on children and teens. Apart from the most criticized adverse effects, different researchers show that social media has many positive effects. These effects affect areas such as body image, health conditions and citizenship. Some commonly known adverse effects include distraction, sleep-disrupting disruption, increased cases of bullying, false information spreading, false views on people’s lives and increased rates of peer pressure. Other people fear missing out when addicted to social media platforms. Some positive effects include the creation of identities, entertainment, increased socialization, exposure to world events and a reduction in depression among children and teens.
Positive effects build children and teens in one way or another. It is safe to say that social media has dramatically impacted the lives of children and adolescents over the past decade. It has created new opportunities for communication and connection while providing a new platform for children and teens to express themselves. Entertainment can be viewed as a positive core effect of social media on different groups of people. The most used platforms worldwide include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, TikTok and Pinterest. Research conducted in 2018 in the US shows that 90% of children and teens are interested in television, radio, film, magazines and books. They use such sites and platforms for entertainment. Most teens worldwide engage in video-making platforms such as TikTok for fun. Teens tend to be addicted to WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, where they find and make fun of different video clips and documentaries.
Through social media, different teens and children find their fields of interest. Carrier development is a process which takes place from childhood to teenage and adulthood. Many platforms consist of pages that usually explore and portray information according to what users view most. Such platforms like Facebook allow people to explore what fits them best. Other people, mostly teens, find new friends who share the same fields of interest through social media. An example is the Facebook tracking pixel which tracks the data of different users and suggests people friend request others who share the same fields of interest.
Social media is an extension of face-to-face and offline interactions between friends and family members (Gongala, 2022). It increases the rates at which children and teens keep in contact with others. Chatting can be related to the connection of friends and relatives around the globe. Social media has been termed a compressor of the world into a village.’ Children and teens communicate with their loved ones using global online communities anytime. Such communications can take place via phone calls, direct messages and chatting. Social media can therefore be viewed as essential to bringing friends and families together, more so children and teens. Self-confidence and self-esteem are two of the most important things for children and teenagers to develop, and social media can be a great way to help them achieve these goals (Strom & Strom, n.d.). When children and teens see that their posts and comments are liked and shared by others, they feel a sense of validation and accomplishment. It can boost their confidence and help them to feel better about themselves. In addition, social media can provide a sense of community and belonging, which can also help to increase self-confidence and self-esteem.
Children and teens use social media for learning (Gongala, 2022). Many schools and tertiary institutions have employed social media as learning platforms. Some apps and sites, such as zoom and Google meet, are used for organizing and hosting online classes. Teens, therefore, end up gaining values, morals and knowledge via media. With the vast amount of information that is available online, social media can be a valuable tool for research and learning. It can also be a great way to stay up-to-date with current events and news stories. For example, a child studying a particular historical event can use social media to find primary sources and connect with other students interested in the same topic. When children are exposed to social media, they gain digital literacy, which helps them build different skills and enjoy activities carried out online safely (Strom & Strom, n.d.). They get knowledge which helps them avoid different risks during their lifetime. Social media, therefore, can be regarded as an agent through which different skills and knowledge are transmitted.
Teens and children develop creativity via social media. Such entities that boost creativity include photographs, video games and certain profile pages. Children who expose their creative works during their teenage and adulthood nowadays tend to have exposure to social media during their growing process. Teens expose their creative dances through social media platforms such as TikTok. Through these dances, some teens find their way into the music industry. Creativity and collaboration are two more essential skills that social media can help children and teenagers to develop. When children and teens are exposed to the creative work of others, they are more likely to be inspired to create their work. In addition, social media provides an excellent platform for collaboration, allowing children and teenagers to work together on projects and share ideas.
Also, social media can help to promote a sense of community and belonging. Social media can provide a sense of connection and belong for children and teens who feel isolated or alone. In addition, social media can help to raise awareness of important issues and causes and provide a way for children and teenagers to get involved in making a difference.
While social media can have some positive impacts, such as providing a way for kids to stay connected with friends and family, there are also many negative impacts of social media on children and teens (Gongala, 2022). One of the most significant adverse impacts of social media is that it can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. When kids constantly scroll through their feeds and see everyone else’s highlight reel, it is easy to feel like you are the only one not living an exciting life. It can lead to envy and jealousy and make kids feel like they do not measure up.
Another significant negative impact is that social media can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying (Taylor & Cingel, 2021). With the anonymity of the internet, it is easy for kids to say things they would never say to someone’s face, which can lead to a feeling of powerlessness and isolation for the victim and have serious long-term effects.
Another negative impact of social media on children and teens is how it can affect their physical health. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the social media’s most common side effects. Children and teens who spend hours on social media are not getting the exercise they need to stay healthy. It can lead to weight gain and other health problems (Taylor & Cingel, 2021). A study by the University of Pittsburg found that children who spend more than two hours daily on social media are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. The study found that the more time children spend on social media, the more likely they are to compare themselves to others. It can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Social media can be a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, but it can also be a great way to isolate oneself. Children and teens who spend too much time on social media can start to withdraw from real-life social interactions, leading to problems with communication and social skills.
Finally, social media can also be addictive (Armitage, n.d.). With the constant stream of information and the ability to constantly connect to others, it is easy to get sucked into a never-ending cycle of scrolling and liking. Thus it can lead to problems with focus and concentration and make it difficult to disconnect from the virtual world and connect with the real world.
All of these negative impacts can have severe consequences for children and teens. If you are concerned about the amount of time your child is spending on social media, or if you think they may be experiencing some of these adverse effects, it is essential to talk to them about it. Several organizations can help if you are concerned about cyberbullying or addiction.
Armitage, R. C. (n.d.). Social media usage in children: an urgent public health problem. https://www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.hccc.edu/science/article/pii/S0033350621003589
Gongala, S. (2022, August 30). 13 positive and negative influences of media on teenagers. MomJunction.https://www.momjunction.com/articles/positive-and-negative-influences-of-media-on-teenagers_00107975/
Strom, P., & Strom, R. (n.d.). Growing Up with Social Networks and Online Communities. https://web-p-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.hccc.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=7&sid=fcbce655-9a14-4dd3-b74c-133b7b3df6d0%40redis&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=82981818&db=eft
Taylor, L. B., & Cingel, D. P. (2021, September 27). Predicting the use of Youtube and content exposure among 10-12-year-old children: Dispositional, Developmental, and Social factors.https://web-p-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.hccc.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=fcbce655-9a14-4dd3-b74c-133b7b3df6d0%40redis&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=2021-85865-001&db=pdh