Childhood behaviors and surrounding circumstances have essential and persistent effects in later life. One aspect of childhood that has transformed considerably is the advent of social networking and social media which initially received scant attention among parents, children, and authorities. Over the last seventeen years, the use of technology and social media among children and young people has been evolving at a swift pace. In the early 2000s, there were only a few gadgets to access AIM an instant messenger and Myspace accounts which were the most common by then. In fact, to teenagers, it was such an experience to listen to the creaking door opening sound while logging into AIM account. The advancement in telecommunication technology and the use of smartphones and tablets among other portable electronic gadgets has given instant gratification to young people who are fond of logging into their Facebook and Twitter accounts among other social media sites without limitations (Jha et al. p9). Today, Facebook has over 1.7 billion active users around the world most of which are teenagers (O'Keeffe, Gwenn & Kathleen p 2). However, the social media use among the young people seems to have extensive effects on children's well-being and development. In the last ten years, the number of preadolescents and adolescents using social media mainly Facebook has drastically increased. For instance, about 22% of teenagers log on to their accounts at least ten times a day. Likewise, more than half of the cohort will also access some of this sites at more than once on a daily basis (O'Keeffe, Gwenn & Kathleen p 2). Consequently, a substantial number of teenager's social and emotional development occurs while using their smartphones and internet. The attachment to social media seems to enhance communication, social cohesion, and technical skills among the youths. In some cases, the anonymous features of online experience on Facebook help children to seek assistance on social problems without stigma attachment. In fact, they are various vibrant social and mental benefits to online interaction mostly with genuine connections. For instance, a teen may learn positive traits linked to academic success or healthy lifestyle motivating them to follow similar trends.
Manageable use of Facebook and other social networking would also give teens more opportunities to interact and share their views especially with those close to them. For instance, sharing on Facebook can offer social relief and eliminate a sense of isolation especially to those children spending most of their times indoors. Some of this experiences seem to promote self-esteem and values. Prominent people also holds accounts in the social media platform offering teenagers with an opportunity to follow the lifestyles and shared ideologies of their mentors (Jha et al. p10). A number of this mentorship aspects are either in the social, economic or political sphere.
However, the limited capacity for self-regulation and vulnerability to peer influence subjects children to several risks in the social media platform. For instance, there have been frequent offline behaviors such as bullying, clique-forming and sexual experimentation among teenagers and which has been associated with online activities. As a result, social networking is a risk to adolescents than most adults would image or realize. Most threats are categorized as a negative peer-to-peer influence, breaking online privacy regulations, inappropriate content, or third-party incitement.
Cyberbullying has been one of the significant drawbacks of social media. In some cases, unreceptive peers, friends or adults have used Facebook to communicate false, hostile and embarrassing information about other people which is a risk to teens. According to National Bullying Prevention Center (NBPC), more than one in every five students report bullying cases. Mostly, those being bullied feel worse about their families and school work among other areas of their lives. The adverse effects of cyberbullying include suicide, low self-esteem, depression and adopting aggressive behaviors among others. Therefore, NBPC founded an annual anti-bullying campaign in October to unite and raise awareness of bullying around the world.
Sexting is another problem with the use of social media among children. It is sending, forwarding or receiving of sexually explicit content via digital devices. According to the National Campaign to Treat and Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy approximately 20% of teens have sent or posted semi-nude or nude videos or photos of themselves (O'Keeffe, Gwenn & Kathleen p 2). Mostly, some of these materials are distributed rapidly via cell phones or the internet. Cyberbullies take maximum advantage of such images and videos to humiliate their targets which might lead to emotional distress to the victims.Facebook depression is also an adverse effect of excessive use of social media. When adolescents compare themselves to lifestyle and photos of other people sharing similar platform they can suffer from loss of self-esteem and depression. Most of the victims also develop aggressive behaviors and tend to isolate themselves (O'Keeffe, Gwenn & Kathleen p 3). As a result, they seek help from risky online blog or website which might promote strange surviving means such as drugs and substance use, dropping out of school and unsafe sex among other self-destructive activities.
In conclusion, parents and teenagers need to acquire substantial knowledge and skills on active engagement with the online world. The young generation is technology whizzes and will be apt to discover new features in their world. Therefore, as a parent navigating the social world together with children would be of greater importance rather than acting as a supervisor. The social media sites should design a family and intergenerational communication connection to foster social inclusion for young and old. Lastly, rebalancing media coverage about teenager's social media practices would create awareness to risks social media might pose to the young people.
Jha, Rajesh Kumar, et al. "Facebook use and its effects on the life of health science students in a private medical college of Nepal." BMC research notes 9.1 (2016): 378.
O'Keeffe, Gwenn Schurgin, and Kathleen Clarke-Pearson. "The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families." Pediatrics 127.4 (2011): 800-804.
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