Social media did not exist once upon a time; even when it did, it was not as advanced as it is now. However, the current study indicates that social media has increased significantly (Odgers et al., 2020). Therefore, before the development of social media, how people interacted with one another and passed information from one person to another was primarily influenced by their culture and beliefs. As this was the only way they believed things could be done, they carried out their actions in accordance with what they had been taught by those who came before them. As a result, human beings were constrained in their ability to develop and behave. Because of their limited exposure and lack of knowledge, they could not correctly explore as many topics as they should have. The rise of social media has profound historical significance for how people have evolved and behaved. However, with the rise of social media, there have been issues related to its rise, such as cyberbullying, especially among school-age children and teens, since cyberbullying at this level affects their cognitive, social, emotional, and personal development by spewing fear and a sense of worthlessness and inadequacy.
The ease with which one can communicate with others who live far away has been made very easy by the use of social which has transformed communication. According to this perspective, individuals can now establish and maintain relationships. Without social media, these connections would not have been possible, and their distance would have eroded their bonds. Additionally, Peled (2019) contends in an article that social media allows users to access information on websites like CompuServe and connects them to the rest of the globe (Peled, 2019). As a result, social media has significantly improved human connectivity on a global scale in which people can easily communicate from different parts of the world without any challenges. However, due to the rise in the use of social media, school-age children and teens are characterized by increased levels and desires for self-expression and explorations of self-identity, leading to cyberbullying cases.
Relevance of the content in social media
Ricciardelli (2020) asserts that the essential part of social media is likely the content. This is because using a range of media tools does not guarantee that the message being delivered to the public was intended. Most of the time, media is just employed to communicate information to audiences effectively, but the focus is always on the content. Examples of frequently used mass media include but are not limited to newspapers, radio, television, and, more lately, blogs, but how they deliver messages is highly diverse. Most of the time, a newspaper, a print media, does not accurately portray the facts (Shao et al., 2021). This is because it often condenses phrases to save space, distorting the meaning that was intended to be conveyed. As a result, the information provided to the general public is no longer relevant since it no longer accurately reflects what is expected of the populace.
Information also tends to change quickly, and before adjustments are made, particularly to daily newspapers, which are heavily relied upon by the public, the previously known information becomes incorrect, out-of-date, and occasionally irrelevant. It is also evident that some news writers rely on unreliable information, and occasionally they deliver an unsubstantiated message to the public while delaying the dissemination of false information. Some newspaper advertisements are ambiguous and provide little information (Ricciardelli et al., 2020). For instance, the information may not be as evident to the target audience during advertisements for land, hotels, and homes when the same information is offered on television.
However, many people prefer some types of media because they are readily available, including but not limited to radios and TVs. Some individuals who rely on these media are forced to accept the information they present as being accurate (Kaufhold et al., 2020). This is because they have access to no other kind of media, which is unfortunate considering that some of the material provided may be deceptive. However, since the invention of smartphones and the internet, most people now like reading blogs that include reliable and thoroughly researched material. These blogs are available anywhere and may be accessed whenever the reader needs them (Shao et al., 2021). However, not every blog provides reliable information. This is so that readers are not misled or given erroneous information since some bloggers write for financial gain. This implies that their material cannot be trusted, regardless of availability.
The identities of other persons or organizations may occasionally be tarnished by the material provided by media outlets, which is improper. Loyal individuals who are aware of the beneficial aspects of these organizations or individuals feel betrayed since they are being offered lousy information that they are unwilling to purchase (Shao et al., 2021). They believe that the content ought to have been changed or not shown at all. Considering this, the media’s content becomes the only thing that matters genuinely, and the media serves just as a vehicle for delivering this information. This implies that in the modern world, one cannot survive without the other; therefore, social media is a link between people.
Impact of social media on human development
The cultivation theory, in my opinion, is the media theory with the most significant influence on human behaviour and development. George Gerbner, the leader of the cultural environment movement and a dean of communication at the University of Pennsylvania, developed the cultivation hypothesis regarding communication. George Gerbner argued more about the content of medial social platforms, specifically on television content and how it influences and shapes society for television viewers are the topics of cultivation theory (Gerbner, 1998). In his hypothesis, George Gerbner tried to contend that because of the violence seen on television, regular viewers have inflated perceptions of society as a cruel and frightening place, explaining more about the theory. In his explanation, George Gerbner used the phrase “mean world syndrome” to explain more of this theory. This hypothesis contends that social media can simulate how individuals see the world around them (Moumtzidou et al., 2018). I hold this opinion because the emergence of social media has significantly changed how information is received and processed by people, which can be changed all of a sudden to bring a different meaning than intended.
Increased levels and desires characterize school-age children and teens for self-expression and explorations of self-identity. At this developmental stage, expressed opinions matter to them, whether positive or negative, affecting how they view themselves about others. Also, school-age children and teens linger in comparisons with one another based on the social and age group expectations and definitions of the ideal person. According to Abraham Maslow, humans desire to feel loved and have a sense of belonging, a major influencing factor in teens’ perceptions of the ideal person (Moumtzidou et al., 2018). Selecting this age group is based on the growing sense of self-esteem and self-worth, which can be tipped when a toxic element is added. Social media provide users with the tools they need to get knowledge without ever having to work as hard as they once did. In 2020, Kaufhold et al., Because knowledge is so readily available, learning new skills and expanding one’s mind has become much more straightforward for individuals to accomplish. People are now more knowledgeable due to these developments, which have significantly altered human behaviour and improved human growth. Second, social media plays a significant role in how we perceive our surroundings and the news on a global scale. Their engagement with others through social media and social groups has broadened their point of view and reasoning span in this regard.
Social media significantly influences how individuals interact with one another and the environment around them. In this way, social media may influence how individuals view their surroundings and encourage behavioural changes due to people trying to imitate the behaviours they see on social media, for instance, cases like cyberbullying among the youth. According to this viewpoint, the cultivation theory is the media theory that most accurately captures how social media affects human behaviour and development. This is in line with the arguments given in the above work, where according to social media, people are now more knowledgeable. This knowledge has resulted from significant changes in human behaviour and cyberbullying cases. It is, therefore, critical to develop a mitigation plan that will reduce the cyberbullying cases and effects, improve the targeted individuals’ quality of life and support their developmental progression.
Gerbner, G. (1998). Cultivation analysis: An overview. Mass communication and society, 1(3-4), pp. 175-194.
Ricciardelli, L. A., Nackerud, L., Quinn, A. E., Sewell, M., & Casiano, B. (2020). Social media use, attitudes, and knowledge among social work students: Ethical implications for the social work profession. Social Sciences & Humanities Open, 2(1), 100008. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590291119300087
Odgers, C. L., Schueller, S. M., & Ito, M. (2020). Screen time, social media use, and adolescent development. Annual Review of Developmental Psychology, 2, 485-502.
Kaufhold, M. A., Bayer, M., & Reuter, C. (2020). Rapid relevance classification of social media posts in disasters and emergencies: A system and evaluation featuring active, incremental and online learning. Information Processing & Management, 57(1), 102132. https://peasec.de/paper/2020/2020_KaufholdBayerReuter_RapidRelevanceClassification_IPM.pdf
Moumtzidou, A., Andreadis, S., Gialampoukidis, I., Karakostas, A., Vrochidis, S., & Kompatsiaris, I. (2018, April). Flood relevance estimation from the visual and textual content in social media streams. In Companion Proceedings of The Web Conference 2018 (pp. 1621-1627).
Peled, Y. (2019). Cyberbullying and its influence on academic, social, and emotional development of undergraduate students. Heliyon, 5(3), e01393. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e01393
Shao, Z., Sumari, N. S., Portnov, A., Ujoh, F., Musakwa, W., & Mandela, P. J. (2021). Urban sprawl and its impact on sustainable urban development: a combination of remote sensing and social media data. Geo-spatial Information Science, 24(2), 241-255.