Lately, I’ve been realizing how often we as teenagers take social media for granted or use it for the wrong purposes. This irresponsible usage is what causes many parents to see it negatively. The truth is, when social media is used properly and in moderation, it can bring about many positive impacts.
I think most of us can agree that the number one reason we use social media is to keep in touch with the various people in our lives, while finding and sharing entertaining content. However, this advantage can be flipped around if we use social media in place of face-to-face conversation or to cyber bully, which can dissolve friendships. Some may argue against social media by saying that it exposes youth to inappropriate content and online stalkers. While we can’t keep certain people from using it in negative ways, we can use judgment when adding and talking to friends.
Some social media sites, such as LinkedIn, help employers find employees, help people find jobs, and help universities recruit students. When social media is used with naiveté or immaturity, though, reputations can be destroyed. Profane, sexual, illegal, and ignorant content found on social network profiles can harm opportunities of employment and college admission.
Another huge benefit of social media is its ability to spread important or helpful information such as breaking news, current events, ideas, movements, health and safety information, fundraisers, and advertisements. While social networks may serve as distractions from priorities such as schoolwork, they also provide an extra place for academic discussion and research, and can encourage controversial discussion, voting participation, and political and social change. Social networks can give youth voice and expression where they may not have had any, and can allow them to share their thoughts, talents, opinions, and more. Social media also allows for collaboration through group projects and event organization. With that said, social media is also capable of spreading false or unreliable information and viruses, as well as aiding terrorist groups, hate groups, criminal groups. Discernment must be used when viewing the loads of information presented on these networks.
Many of us don’t realize how easily the mistakes we may make on social media can haunt us, and how quickly our privacy can be intruded. Too often, youth who are unaware of the dangers of social media put themselves at risk for privacy intrusions or shameful situations. In order to use social media safely, we need to make sure we’re aware of the dangers and are careful of what we post and share with others.
Just like anything else, social media can be used for both good and bad purposes. If people, including teens, learn to use social media safely, effectively, and wisely, its negative impacts on society will begin to dissipate.
We can’t prevent everyone from improperly using social networks, but parents can do their part by knowing whether or not their child is ready, schools can do their part by providing education on online safety, and most of all, we as youth can do our part by acting responsibly and maturely with the privilege of having access to social media and its benefits.