This research paper is tailored to verify the effect of social media on American youth’s minds by discussing both the positive and negative sides of it. The discussion is of intrinsic value in explaining why contemporary teenagers’ behavior differs from that of the 1970’s youth, based on their social life. To get hold of the debate, the paper presents findings in terms of both critics’ and supporters’ views about social media. The negative influences of the social media listed are low self-esteem, cyberbullying, and imposter syndrome, while the positive sides include increased global connection and facilitation of the education system. The paper also discusses the use of social media among the youths to give essence to the discussion of the strong correlation. Further, the researchers concluded that youths’ ignorance about the effects of social media on their activities is the primary cause of the negative impacts. Consequently, they should be taught about the pros and cons.
Human growth and development is characterized by distinct stages that happen along the course of life; one of these is the youth stage. The youthful step is where a person experiences several physical and biological changes in the body. The youthful stage involves young people looking for more extended relationships with members of the opposite sex. Due to peer pressure, they may end up engaging in behaviors that can be detrimental or useful in their future lives; this is the stage where young people are active in terms of information search about different things; entertainment, careers, relationships, and technology.
It goes without mention that modern advances in information and technology have been responsible for the increased knowledge and awareness about different systems of life by the youth (Large 2005). The children of modern times are far much informed at their age than the kids of a century ago in a similar age group, thanks to information and technology of the latter days. In this development, the influence brought by social media cannot be underscored. This is the single development that has advanced the way people socialize and conduct their activities; in fact, social media has had a significant effect on how business organizations do their research and marketing objectives.
It has brought increased opportunities for business and management efficiencies as well as forms of communication and knowledge sharing among the staff of business organizations. This paper considers its effects as well as how young people can use it productively. It serves to educate about the use of social media among the youths, which then paves the way for realizing how the former affects the latter’s minds.
Social media can be described as the social interactions among people, whereby they create, share, and exchange information and ideas through specially designed virtual communities and networks. Social media can also be defined as a particular group comprising of internet-based applications that build on the web’s ideological fundamentals, thus facilitating the formation and exchange of content produced by their respective users (O’Reilly 2007). Social networking technology relies on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms that allow individuals and communities to share, co-develop, discuss, and modify content created by users (Boyd, 2010).
Social media presents various social networking sites upon which individuals and other users can effectively interact and share knowledge easily; they can make and share images, make live chats, and comment on content. Many effects arise from the use of the internet; various researches have indicated that contemporary internet users prefer spending most of their time on social media compared to other sites. For people that produce content, the repayments of contributing to social media have gone beyond merely social sharing to constructing reputation and bringing in career opportunities and monetary income (Tang, Gu & Whinston, 2012).
Social Media and Young People
Youth is the age where one is between childhood and maturity, in which case, they have not fully developed the ability to discern between the bad and the good. It is a stage where a young person feels to be in charge of everything happening in his environment and himself. From the definition, the worry of most parents is how exposure to technology might affect toddlers and their young people developmentally. It is common knowledge that nowadays, kids are picking new social and cognitive skills are a pace that can be described as stunning (Tang et al., 2012). On the other hand, adolescence represents another critical phase of rapid development in human life, whereby they are likely to develop hasty passion without considering the side effects.
Another essential feature of teenagers is that they are masters at keeping themselves occupied in the hours after school until way past bedtime. Livingstone (2008) asserts that when they’re not doing their homework (and when they are), they’re online and on their phones, sending and receiving messages, trolling, scrolling, as well as doing all sorts of things that you can name.
Before the invention of the Facebook account, teens kept themselves busy, too, but they were more likely to do their chatting on the phone, or in-person when hanging out with other people. They got the chance to socialize with other people on a face-to-face basis. While it may appear like an aimless hang-around, they are experimenting, trying out new knowledge and skills, succeeding and failing in zillions of tiny interactions that kids today are missing out on. For one thing, modern teens are learning to do most of their communication while looking at a screen, not another person; this is the effect of advances in information and technology (Lenhart et al. 2010).
The Impact of Social Media on American Young People’s Minds
Among the many faces that have been found to shape American youth’s lives, social media stands out both as the most overrated and most underrated. Several instances in the recent past, including school shootings and many other social problems like rising obesity levels and teenage pregnancy rates, are all often blamed in social media (Manago, 2010). American youth often find themselves in an environment highly saturated with social media and other related technologies like televisions and websites, among others, that are usually on different kinds of pocket-size devices.
In America, teenagers are the most prolific social networking sites; in fact, emerging research findings indicate that youth spend a considerable portion of their daily life, interacting with social media. Subsequently, several questions and controversies have been raised by parents and other concerned stakeholders over the effect of social networking sites. Modern features that characterize teenage communication go by such peculiar names and tags as wall Posts, status updates and activity feeds. Among others, these tools are critical features of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace among a host of many others (Tang et al., 2012).
It is essential to understand that youths make up the most significant percentage of people that use social networking sites actively, a national survey conducted in 2009 revealed that 73% of online teenagers are actively engaged in social networking sites, in essence, this is an increase of 53% from three years later (Lenhart et al. 2010).
That youth are connected to these global online communities is both a frightening prospect for parents, caregivers, and educators. In the United States, educators and parents are currently experiencing difficult quandaries concerning students and the issue of social networking sites, in response to this development, many scholars suggest that students learn in new ways using social media and that educators are expected to embrace these new platforms(Ito et al., 2009; Jenkins, 2006). Nevertheless, most school districts block access to Social Networking Sites (Lemke et al. 2009), while parents remain fearful concerning the safety and effects on their children’s social development. Teenage youth are a unique population that makes up a considerable percentage of social networking Sites users; the mistake should not be blamed on them. They are among the first to have grown up surrounded by communication technologies (Livingstone 2008).
Arguments Against the Use of Social Media by American Youth
There seem to be several disadvantages that come alongside the use of social networking sites among the youth; some include the following.
Social Networking sites are often characterized by chatting through instant messages from their users; this process of texting and communicating does not necessarily create a non-verbal learning disability (Valkenburg & Peter 2009). Instead, it puts everybody in a non-verbal disabled context; in this state, body language, facial expression, and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions from both the sender and receiver of information are rendered invisible.
This kind of communication creates a barrier to clear communication, but that is not all. It is essential to understand that learning how to make friends is a significant part of growing up, and friendship requires a certain amount of risk-taking (Subrahmanyam & Greenfield 2008). This is true for creating a new friend, but it’s also true for maintaining friendships, such that when there are problems that need to be faced, whether big or small, there should be physical dialogue. Usually, it takes courage to be honest about your feelings and then hear what the other person has to say, the process of learning to cross effectively these bridges is part of what makes friendship fun and exciting (Valkenburg & Peter 2009).
When friendship is made online in instant texts on social networking sites, young can be described as being in an environment stripped of many of the most personal and sometimes intimidating aspects of communication. When sending instant texts, it is easier to keep your guard up when you’re texting, so less is at stake, in this medium, you aren’t hearing or seeing the effect that your words are having on the other person (Lenhart et al. 2010). Because the conversation is not happening in real-time, each party takes a considerable amount of time to make a response; this is sometimes the reason why some young people consider calling someone on the phone as being “too intense,” requiring more direct communication, such that if one hasn’t been used to, it looks a bit scary.
By allowing young people to use social networking as a form of sharing information, we are relegating our communication to more indirect means. That way, young people are losing their confidence when it comes to making official physical communication in various instances (Manago et al. 2008). In this development, social negotiations only get riskier as people get older and begin navigating romantic relationships and employment, a practical case with most American youth. Remember, what comprises part of healthy self-esteem is knowing how to say what you think and feel even when you’re in disagreement with other people; communication has to be direct.
Cyberbullying and Imposter Syndrome
One significant danger associated with youth and social media is communicating indirectly has gotten more comfortable to be cruel, young people text all sorts of things that you would never in a million years contemplate saying to anyone in the face. In America, this observation is correct for teenage and youthful girls who don’t like to disagree with each other in real life incidences. Parents and caregivers often want to teach their youths how to solve disagreements without necessarily jeopardizing the relationship, but what social media is teaching them to do is disagree in ways that are more extreme and affect the relationship (Lenhart et al. 2010).
Peer acceptance is one big thing for young people in America; many care about their image in the same way politicians do when running for offices. Add to that the fact that youths today are getting actual polling data on how much people like them or their appearance via things like Facebook “likes” it is enough to turn anyone’s head (Livingstone 2008). Why wouldn’t want her to look better, if she could?
Adolescence and the youthful stage are the years in which young people are acutely aware of the contrasts between how they appear and who they think they are. This is a similar incident like that of the imposter syndrome in psychology, such that as you get older and acquire more mastery, you begin to realize that you are good at some things. Then you feel that gap hopefully narrow comfortably.
Importance of Social Media to Young People
Social networking has been cited as a source of healthy negative people among young people. It has been mentioned as one of the forces that strongly influences young people’s decision-making processes and their behavior in general. However, research has shown various advantages that young people get when dealing with the new technology that has revolutionized communication and interaction among young people worldwide (Araz et al. 2009; Steinfield, Ellison & Lampe 2008).
Currently, social media has become an integral part of many young people’s lives; in fact, reports indicate that most of the young people that are aged between 8-17 years have created profiles on any of the social networking sites (Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 2008). One of the advantages that these forms of technology bring is the platform upon which young people can connect all over the world and exchange ideas.
In general, technology has been creating a fundamental change in the way many systems in human life have been running; for instance, it has become an integral part of the education system. A high percentage of teachers that have been asked about these forms of technology and its influence in teaching have said that information technology makes learning easy and exciting. The use of information technology in education has been cited as a contributor to improved classroom interaction as a result of students using it, at the same time, the research has pointed at teachers welcoming the use of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter as well as other social networking sites (Lenhart et al. 2010). For instance, some YouTube accounts, Facebook, and Twitter pages are specifically designed to offer a platform for providing information on significant subjects in students’ curriculum.
Social media, a tool for teaching, is said to have a natural element of collaboration; for this reason, students can critique and comment on each other’s assignments, work in teams, and create content. At the same time, they can easily access each other and the teacher with questions or live discussions, whether in the class or not. Besides education, social networking provides an excellent platform upon which young people can find careers; they can learn and find online jobs as well as do research about companies and other industries that they would wish to join and work (Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 2008).
To reconcile the effect of social media, Young people should not be stopped from using social networking; instead, they need to be educated on the pros and cons of this process so that they can use it responsibly. They need to be taught on the importance of social media and how it influences different facets of life, including business and other economic activities (Araz et al. 2009; Steinfield, Ellison & Lampe 2008).
It is essential to realize that Social networking Sites make up an intriguing new environment to study because technology is such an integral part of teenagers and the entire youthful life. Given its popularity, parents and educators have considerable concerns about the effects of Social media on their children and students concerning their future lives. These concerns range from youths’ self-esteem, cyberbullying, and internet imposter syndrome. While there is much theoretical discussion about the effects of Social Networking Sites on children, the empirical research that informs these famous debates is currently in an exploratory stage.
In this case, several qualitative accounts and cross-sectional analyses dominate the literature; also, various longitudinal and experimental designs are needed to tease out the effects of Social Networking Sites environments on youth outcomes (Boyd 2010). However, these studies must be finely specified and attuned to theories about how youth use Social media to build a culture in these online virtual communities.
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