Social media has been around since 1997, with the emergence of the first modern-day platform, Six Degrees. Flash forward to today, where Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat reign supreme.
- 70% of Teens Check Social Media Sites Multiple Times A Day
- 72% of Teens Use Instagram
- 51% of Teens Use Facebook
- 15% of Teens Say Snapchat Is Their Main Social Media Platform
Clearly, social media is popular among teens and isn’t going away anytime soon. But should they really be using it? Below are the pros and cons of social media use by teens.
Pros of Teens Using Social Media
Connect With Friends and Family
When social media started out, it was all about having the ability to connect with friends and family. Even though social media has greatly evolved since then, this still remains true. These platforms are a place where teens (13 years and older) can share what is going on in their life with loved ones. And in return, they can view what is going on with their friends and family, near and far.
Free Expression & Self-Esteem
Part of letting your child grow up is enabling them to discover who they are and be proud of that. Social media provides teens with an outlet to show their friends and the world who they really are. This includes expressing their thoughts on anything from the latest music videos to current topics like global warming.
Source of Education
Social media isn’t just a place for teens to share what’s going on in their life. They can also use social media to stay connected with what’s going on in the world, from politics to entertainment news. Honestly, I get most of my up-to-date information right from Twitter.
Increases Feelings of Happiness
These platforms are typically attributed to being damaging to one’s mental health. However, that is not always the case. Social media use can actually make you feel happy. If you look at social media as a way to build supportive relationships, then your experience will bring you happiness.
Belonging To A Community
As said before, social media is all about connecting with others, including those who have similar interests. On Facebook, anyone can join groups based on what they like, from the Jonas Brothers to Fortnite. Users can also follow or like their favorite celebrities, athletes, and other idols they look up to. By being able to communicate with others like you and connect with fellow fans, users can feel a sense of belonging to a community bigger than themselves.
Cons of Teens Using Social Media
Loss of In-Person Social Skills
There are arguments for and against this point. However, it has been proven that social media use can actually hinder children’s in-person social skills. According to New York Behavioral Health, teenagers ages 12-17 use text messaging as their main form of communication. With this, face-to-face and phone call communication has greatly decreased among teens. Because they are using these in-person social skills less and less, it could negatively impact their future career and romantic relationships.
Social media is just one big advertisement. Pop-up ads, paid ads, influencer and business posts… ads are everywhere. When teenagers see these ads, they often compare themselves to them. Do they have this trending item? How do they look compared to the people in the ads? These ads can make some teenagers feel as though they are inadequate because they don’t have a certain item or don’t look a certain way.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is something that is common for teenagers to suffer from on social media. FOMO among teens is usually triggered when they see their friends on social media having a great time, while not including them. Teens feel as though they must constantly be checking their social media accounts so they don’t miss out on anything their friends are doing. However, what most teenagers don’t understand is that most social media accounts are fake. People show the best side of themselves, and not what’s really going on in their life.
Teens are often body shamed on social media by others based on their looks. It doesn’t help that influencers purposely make poses and edit photos in ways that make them look unrealistically attractive. There are also social media challenges pertaining to body image like the recent focus on having a thigh gap. Body shaming can result in teenagers getting eating disorders, and losing their self-esteem and confidence.
Loss of Focus
With teenagers constantly on social media, they often lose focus while doing everyday tasks. For example, if a teenager is supposed to be doing their homework, they may be distracted about what’s going on Instagram. And this doesn’t just apply to social media, but phone use in general. Teenagers can get distracted every time their phone has a new notification.
It’s very easy for teens to be cyberbullied by friends and strangers on social media. As said previously, social media is a place for people to express their opinion. However, not all opinions are nice. Whether it’s in a post, comment, or private message, someone could easily make fun of or say hateful things to another. Luckily, Instagram and other platforms are taking strides to stop this.
For teenagers, they want to share all about their life on social media. However, sharing too many details in posts or private messages could lead to their identity being stolen. Often, an identity thief will make a fake profile pretending to be a friend or someone appealing in order to get the information. If they do obtain this personal information, these criminals could take out credit cards in the teenager’s name, and possibly steal their future social security benefits.
These are just some of the pros and cons of social media teenagers and parents should be aware of. If you’re the parent of a teenager who uses social media, make sure to educate them on the do’s and don’ts of social media. This will help them avoid succumbing to the dangers of social media.