A very important discussion that revolves around social media is the impact these platforms may have on the emotional well-being of teenagers. The youth of today is the future of tomorrow. Teenage (age range of 13-19 years), also called adolescent, is the age of radical changes in an individual (Stanford Children 2019). The age is marked by sudden growth spurts, change in voice, attainment of puberty and varied changes in personality. A teenage brain feels like a subject of mystery to every parent and the advent of freely accessible fast internet and a plethora of social media platforms has a strong role in determining how the teenager of today responds to the world.
A survey conducted by Anderson & Jiang highlights that approximately 81 per cent of teenagers are connected to one social media platform or the other. The survey categorically highlighted that a teenager chooses the social media platforms to mostly share about their accomplishments, family, their current state of emotions and feelings, dating life, etc. The research also states that within teenagers the older teens are more likely to discuss their romantic relationships than the younger teens. In terms of impact, almost all of 81 per cent respondents were able to highlight the positive impact of social media on teenagers and seek social media platforms to be connected with the world or to gather information on their friend's life or seek support from their friends and family over an emotional issue. However, the survey also highlighted that significantly. 37 per cent of the people admitted that at times social media existence can be overwhelming for their well-being. Teenagers also admitted that they get influenced by peer pressure and feel forced to update things on social media to look good. About 12 per cent of the respondents highlighted that getting ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on their uploads would make them upload personal content.
Another study by Akram & Kumar talks comprehensively about the effect of social media on teenagers and kids besides several other elements. Akram & Kumar highlight that social media can have a seemingly positive effect on teenagers and kids "if" it is used in the right direction. It could bring about many positive changes such as allowing the teenager to widen their scope and interact with a large audience from different nationalities on social media, development of social skills among teens who are rather introvert and receiving positive influence from the model celebrities thereby inducing good habits such as refraining from alcohol or reading books. However, the research also stated that increased and unsupervised use of social media among teens can lead to an identity crisis, risky sexual behaviours and affect the academic side of such individuals negatively.
Similar research by Listyani & Fauzi on this subject confirms the fact that despite there are several perceived positive impacts that one might associate with the use of social media (especially Social Networking Sites also called, SNS) among teens, the negatives, however, seem to outweigh the goods in this regard. The research by Listyani & Fauzi indicated that the teenagers are more vulnerable and more likely to face lower self-esteem issues and increased riskiness of inappropriate sexual behaviour due to the higher adrenaline rush thereby impacting the overall well-being of the teenagers.
Social media is an inevitable part of adolescent and youth’s life (Wood, Bukowski & Lis 2015). The research by Wood, Bukowski & Lis suggested that teenagers can develop identities and get a chance to present themselves the way they aspire, to their peers and friends. The research also points out that teenage boys stand a better chance to benefit from the use of social media than teenage girls. However, the extensive use of social media also brings along the increased risk of cyber-bullying among many other common causes, which has a detrimental effect on the growth and well-being of the young teenagers and hence, there needs to be a degree of check and supervised control over the usage of social media among teens.
Extensive, uncontrolled and unsupervised usage of social media platforms amongst teenagers has been seen to do more harm than good (Radovic et al. 2017). The research brings forth the negative outcomes such as depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies amongst teenagers which cannot be ignored. However, the research also concluded that teenagers who faced the negative consequences of social media platforms learnt from their mistakes and described that these mistakes and consequences could prove helpful for other teenagers and parents. The research brings out a contrast that many teenagers feel that social media decreases self-esteem as opposed to popular belief and can be far detrimental when being accessed in a low or bad mood. Radovic et al also deduced that use of social media in a purposeful way of connecting with distant family and friends may lead to a decrease in its overall negative impact
The overall research on the subject leads us to believe that social media platforms are a double-edged sword. It has both positive and negative effects on the lives and minds of teenagers who are one of the most extensive population that actively accesses and uses social media platforms, especially social networking sites. While many kinds of research in this field have been able to identify the positive impact that social media platforms can have over teenagers, it is important to note that none of the researches can ignore the negative impact that social media can cause on the young and vulnerable minds.
Akram, W & Kumar, R 2017, ‘A Study on Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society’, International Journal of Computer Sciences and Engineering, vol. 5, no. 10, pp. 351–354.
Anderson, M & Jiang, J 2018, Teens and their experiences on social media, Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech.
Listyani, RH & Fauzi, AM 2017, ‘Impacts of Social Media on Youth’s Sexual and Social Behaviors’, Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research (ASSEHR), vol. 118, Atlantis Press, pp. 35–38.
Radovic, A, Gmelin, T, Stein, BD & Miller, E 2017, ‘Depressed adolescents’ positive and negative use of social media’, Journal of Adolescence, vol. 55, pp. 5–15.
Stanford Children 2019, default - Stanford Children’s Health, Stanfordchildrens.org.
Wood, MA, Bukowski, WM & Lis, E 2015, ‘The Digital Self: How Social Media Serves as a Setting that Shapes Youth’s Emotional Experiences’, Adolescent Research Review, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 163–173.
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