Youths and social media: Boons vs banes
Image credit: www.techgenyz.com
Social media is a computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts and information in the forms of text, audio, video and graphics, through virtual networks and communities. There are more than 5 billion social media users around the world and most of them are youths.1 Social media basically features user-generated contents and personalized profiles. The largest social media networks include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok.
Social media helps people acquire knowledge and information that has desired and positive impacts. These virtual platforms can be blessings. However, if misused, they act as curses. This online medium also affects in destructive ways. This form of media contributes to the thinking and behaviour of its users.
According to the Pew Research Centre, social media users tend to be younger. Nearly 90 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 used at least one form of social media.2 For this reason, today's youths are prone to be affected by the contents of social media, both positively as well as negatively. Social media can be both: boons or banes, depending on behaviour of users.
We often come across talks about 'social media is misleading the youths.' Is it true? Is this global platform misleading us or does it also have benefits? Where is social media leading today's youths to?
Some key impacts of social media on younger section of the society are dealt with in this article.
Positive Impacts of Social Media on Youths
- Social media keeps connected to family and friends, helping close relations among the people;
- Social networking sites enable youths to show their talents and creativity;
- It keeps the users updated about the useful and beneficial things across the globe;
- This is the perfect place for youths to speak their minds and make them feel better. Every user of social media is an 'editor' in this platform. There is no 'gatekeeper' to filter or obstruct the publication of any material one wants;
- It helps develop various life skills that are vital in terms of one's career;
- People can make new friends and know about others as much as they can. All of this is possible with the social media platform;
- It is more fun to interact with peers virtually, rather than talking to them face to face;
- If used appropriately, the grades in school are improved. Students can learn and teach themselves using this platform;
- The participation of youths in political discussions and other social issues has increased due to social media access. 3
- Social networking is cheap and quick tool of information dissemination and getting people connected;
- Social media platforms help empower communities through dissemination of information and knowledge;
- Social media is one of the best ways for marketing products, earning money, connecting with people, find business opportunities, and employments;
- It helps employers to get employees, and vice versa;
- It assists people to choose brands and products;
- The social media sites themselves are the creators of job opportunities. They have brought new avenues of income generation which can be harnessed by anyone.
Negative Impacts of Social Media on Youths
- Youths give greater importance to social media than family, sports, learning, etc.;
- In the social media, one can only see the virtual side of the persons and things. At times, this can be misleading;
- Cyber bullying is the most destructive effect of social media. Young people use these platforms to bully their peers that affect the victims mentally, which can have far reaching consequences. Sometimes such abuse of social media can lead to depression, and even to suicidal thoughts;
- There is a very strong temptation in social media. It can become means of addiction for the youth and begin to take them to undesired directions;
- Studies have shown that social media platform can negatively affect the productivity of workers/employees up to 51 percent, especially among the workers between the age of 25-34; 4
- One thing common among the young people is that they often get too open in the public and share their personal information. Most of the people don’t read the privacy policies and are unaware that their personal information is compromised. Such personal information can be misused by criminals;
- Social media users expose themselves to the governmental and corporate intrusions. The Justice Department of the United States gather hundreds of pieces of information from social networks; 5
- Use of social media can also distract youths, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumour spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure; 6
- Misinformation or false propaganda is another negative impact of social media on youths.
From above discussions, it is clear that proper utilization of social media is vital. But it should always be used in a constructive and productive manner. Social networking sites can be boons. Its advantages are unlimited, if social media is used constructively. However, it becomes a curse or bane when mishandled. Therefore, caution is required while using any form of social media. Every user of virtual platforms should always be aware about the contents he or she is making public.
- Global Social Media Stats October 2021.
- Pew Research Center. Social Media Fact Sheet
- MaYA DOLLARHIDE
Published on 6 March 2022
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