Essay Example on How Social Media Affect Teens

Date:  2021-06-24 03:35:04
6 pages  (1458 words)
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Introduction

Social media is one of the greatest innovations of the 21st century. The term social media is used to refer to various social network sites that allow user generated content and in most cases online interactions among members of one's social group. Among the most common forms of social media are Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Weibo among others. Users of social media find them attractive, as they allow the users to share their experiences through posts and visual images such as photographs and videos. Again, many social media, such as Facebooks and Twitter, allows users to connect to other online media sources or blogs for live updates. This new invention has attracted users across age groups, but the teens turn out to be the most active users of social media. Active use of social media has been found to have both positive and negative effects. This paper examines the effects that the social media have on the teens. It argues that social media have both positive and negative effects on teens, and teens need to be disciplined to avoid the negative effects.

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Discussion

Social media affects youths in various aspect, including language, relationships, the perception of life and information sharing, especially in conservative settings or where there is limited democratic space.

Language and Communication

Social media usage usually involve the use of unique language and codes, which may affect teen's language development. Usually, users will use some letters, symbols or short hands to communicate their feelings or reaction to posts of others within the media (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith & Zickuhr, 2010). For instance, where one is amused by a comment, social media users (especially teens) may simply write lol,' which stands for laughing out loud.' Both the short hand lol' and even its long form are not grammatically correct. Therefore, long-term use of social media offers a room that trains the teens on poor grammar practices, which may affect their grammar learning negatively. Also, many of the social media have integrated auto-correction tools, so that the users do not have to mind their grammar and spellings (Lenhart et al., 2010). Teens who are fond of using social media for comments, therefore, get used to writing wrong spellings with the expectation that they will rely on auto-correction. As a result, they lose an opportunity to train themselves on good grammar practices.

There are also issues of cultural and generational differences among social media users. Most of the symbols, smilies, codes and language of social media tend to be associated with Western culture, especially the English speakers. As a result, Guo-Ming (2012) argues that social media presents language communication difficulties, even among teens from different cultures. For instance, among the Chinese Buddhists, the yellow color is associated with mourning. In the Western cultures, it is associated with excitement. Therefore, if a user from the UK posts a theme color of yellow on their Facebook page, communication conflict is likely to arise from Facebook friends and followers of Chinese culture. That way, social media deny teens an opportunity to learn the unique communication symbols across cultures, because most symbols such as similies have specific meanings known by the users or creators of the media. Also, the teens tend to have better understanding of the symbols and social media communication language compared to the older generation. Usually, the teens adopt social media language when communicating with the older ones, therefore presenting language difficulties.

Relationships and Personality

Social media offers the teens an alternative forum for forming new (online) relationships, which may affect their personality either positively or negatively. In one study, Wang, Tchernev , and Solloway (2012) examined what motivates the college students to use social media and the effect of social media on their personality. The researchers found out that many of the teens use social media to get moral support and form relationships that fulfill their needs to socialize. On the positive note, social media allows individuals to interact with others and even form online communities and friends. As a result, their desire for interaction is fulfilled. However, even though the teens may get support from the online friends,' their personality end up getting affected personality in two ways. First, repeated use of social media makes the youths to withdraw from the physical, interpersonal relationships as they shift their attention to the online ones that give them support. The reduction in face-to-face interaction makes the individuals to be more introvert. Secondly, in many cases, the teens finally realize the online relationships cannot be as stable or satisfying like the face to face interaction leading to disappointment. In other cases, youths may encounter confusing or offensive online behaviors in the forums they use, making them more stressed and disappointed. All these emotional encounters lead to negative personality and perception towards people. The Problem of Envy from Fake Life

Social media users are fond of posting positive, and sometimes exaggerated or false life experiences, and these may cause unhealthy envy and stress of teens who feel they are worse off. The truth of life is that individuals do not have a good life all the times; everyone has a time in life when they pass through challenges and hard moments. Even then, most social media users will only post updates, videos, and pictures that depict their success in life and good moments. Some even go to beautiful places for photo-sessions with the view that they will use them as updates so that others view how good their life is. As a result, a significant part of individuals' social media life is a fake one. Teens may not have been mature enough to know or appreciate what real life involve. As a result, many may end up envying the unrealistic life that they see in social media. Some teens may und-up suffering serious emotional complications, such as stress and negative view of themselves, because they may think they are failures in life (Wang et al., 2012). It takes proper counseling of the youths to learn to differentiate the fake social media life and the reality of life.

Opening of Communication Space and Information Sharing

Despite numerous negative effects, social media presents to the teens a more friendly channel to share information that may have been hard to share through traditional communication forums. A case at hand has been the recent events in the Middle East (the Arab Spring) where the social media users (especially the teens) actively used social media to express their dissatisfaction with dictatorial leadership (Aouragh, 2016). In Egypt, for instance, social media was primarily used to share ideas on how to deal with the President Mubaraks regime, a dictatorial leadership that could not address peoples concerns such as rising cost of living (Aouragh, 2016). Before social media, sharing such information would be difficult because the government had tight control of the media. Again, it was hard to get teens to participate in democratic process and expression of interest, either because they feared the government or their parents could not give them the permission. Then, in very conservative communities such as Saudi Arabia, teens have managed to use social media to contact others of opposite gender so as to share issues. Given that there are no direct physical contact, and further because the interactions cannot easily be monitored, the teens can take advantage to interact freely. It is therefore evident that social media has offered a platform for youths to escape cultural barriers to communication and information sharing. Further, teens in school extensively use social media such as blogs, Facebook groups, Whatsapp groups among others to share knowledge and learning challenges.

Conclusion

To conclude, social media is a new revolution that is affecting the teens both positively and negatively. Negative concerns mainly arise in areas of communication among cultures and across age groups. The teens are better advantaged in using social media language and symbols, which are unique and largely ungrammatical. Concerns are that such use may threaten their grammar learning, especially also of repeated use of autocorrection features. Social media may also lead to behavioral complications, such as the development of introverted behaviors as a result of reduced face-to-face interactions. Also, false life reflected in social media may result in stressful life and self-negative perception. Even then, social media stands to benefit teens in information sharing and avoiding conservative barriers to communication.

References

Aouragh, M. (2016). Social media, mediation and the Arab revolutions. Marx in the Age of Digital Capitalism, 482-515.

Guo-Ming, C. (2012). The Impact of New Media on Intercultural Communication in Global Context". China Media Research. 8 (2): 110.

Lenhart, A., Purcell, K., Smith, A., & Zickuhr, K. (2010). Social media and young adults. Pew Internet & American Life Project, 3.

Wang, Z. Tchernev, J. M . & Solloway, T. (2012). "A dynamic longitudinal examination of social media use, needs, and gratifications among college students". Computers in Human Behavior. 28 (5): 18291839.

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