Social Media Influence on Teenagers

Teenagers are one of the most avid users of social media. It allows them to communicate and receive information in many ways. Social media outlets used by youth include computers, text messages, Facebook, YouTube, movies, television programs, video games, etc. The use of internet services comes front and centre when considering the influence of social media.

The total number of internet users in India is estimated to be around 81 million, out of which 72 % are from the young population1. According to recent reports, teens in India prefer to use personal computers and laptops instead of smart phones for browsing2. This study also suggested that an approximate 26 percent of participants claimed remaining online for at least an hour each day and 27 percent agreed that they check and respond to notification received from social media avenues within 5 minutes of receiving them. Facebook and Google+ were found to be the most used platforms by teenagers, while WhatsApp was the most popular instant messaging outlet.

From a global viewpoint, it is also estimated that 22% of teenagers log onto preferred social media sites more than 10 times in a day3. Similar results were also mentioned in an American report indicating that a whopping 92% of teenagers claim going online each day.

 

Benefits associated with Social Media Use4,5:

  • Effective mode of communication: One of the primary features of social media is the possibility of communicating with peers, friends, etc. Social media is often applied to maintaining and forming social connections. The deeper benefits of social media include community level interactions (political events, charity events, etc.), impetus to creativity (creating blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc.), fostering new social skills.
  • Learning opportunities: Facebook and similar platforms allow students to collaborate for assignments and projects. In addition, the use of platforms such as podcasts and YouTube are also beneficial for vicarious learning. Students can find a wide ranging global information in a short span of time.

 

Risks related to Social media use:

  • Privacy issues: The level and nature of information that is put up on social media is of concern when it comes to its dissemination. Lack of awareness of privacy issues an often lead to posting and sharing private material.
  • Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying involves disseminating hostile or inappropriate information about someone without their consent. Instances of cyberbullying can lead to harmful psychological consequences like anxiety, social isolation, suicide attempts and even suicide6. Reports suggest that about 50% of youth in India have experienced or witnessed cyberbullying7.
  • Exposure to sexual content: Social media often becomes a means of sharing and receiving sexual content. Sexting is a term applied to circulating sexually explicit material using cell phones, or computers, etc8. Young users are often lured by sexual predators using online platforms9.

 

Adult supervision and involvement:

  • Family members, teachers and other adult members in a teenager’s life are often faced with the important and challenging task of regulating teenage exposure to media. However, some guidelines can help make this easier to manage and supervise:
  • Communicate freely with young children and teenagers about their online activities. Try and mention the risks involved in fundamental terms so as to make a young one aware and alert to such instances. For example, explain them about the risks associated with communicating with strangers online, or posting private information about themselves and their family.
  • Parents and teachers can try to be more aware of technological advancements themselves. This helps them to supervise online activities of teenagers in a better way
  • Try and limit use of social media by stipulating time periods and number of gadgets available for use. For example, teenage children can be given a time limit for using certain websites or portals. Any change in time and content can be supervised.

 

 

 

References:

1.Grover, S., Chakraborty, K., & Basu, D. (2010). Pattern of internet use among professional in India: Critical look at a surprising survey result. Ind Psychiatry J Vol19(2), 94-100. doi: 10.4103/0972-6748.90338

2.Indian teens addicted to laptops, Facebook and Whatsapp: report (2016, June 14), Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.deccanchronicle.com/technology/in-other-news/140616/indian-teens-addicted-to-laptops-facebook-and-whatsapp-report.html

3.Schurgin O’Keeffe, G., Clarke-Pearson, K., Mulligan, D. A., Altmann T.R., Brown, A., Christakis, D.A., Falik, H.L., Hill, D.L.,  Hogan, M.J.,  Levine, A.E., & Nelson,K.G. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents and families. Paediatrics Vol.127(4), 800-804 . doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054

4. Ito, M., Horst, H.,  Bittani, M.,  et al. Living and Learning With New Media: Summary of Findings From the Digital Youth ProjectChicago, ILJohn D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning. Retrieved from http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/files/report/digitalyouth-TwoPageSummary.pdf

5.Boyd, D. (2007). Why youth (heart) social network sites: the role of networked publics in teenage social life. In Buckingham, D (Ed.). MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning: Youth, Identity, and Digital Media Volume. Cambridge,MA: MITPress. Retrieved from : www.danah.org/papers/WhyYouthHeart.pdf

6.Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2010).  Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide. Arch Suicide Res.14(3),206–221

7.Naidu, P. (2014, November, 2014). 7 major finding about Indian teenagers on social media and security. Retrieved from http://lighthouseinsights.in/tweens-teens-and-technology-2014-mcafee-report.html/

8.National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.(2008). Sex and Tech: Results of a Survey of Teens and Young Adults. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Retrieved from  www.thenationalcampaign.org/SEXTECH/PDF/SexTech_Summary.pdf

9.Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, K. J., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2007). Internet prevention messages. Targeting the right online behaviors. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 161, 138-145. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.2.138D

 

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