This blog post will examine an article from ReachOut that looks at the benefits social media presents to young people.
Social networking sites have gained popularity over the years and have become an integral part of young people’s lives. This is especially true now during a world pandemic where social media has played a key role in keeping families and friends connected. I chose this article because of its relevance to what we are experiencing now and how the internet and social media are playing unique roles in young people’s lives.
When the world was on lockdown people turned to social media to stay connected to family and friends. School became virtual and young people turned to the internet to keep in touch with news, information, social engagement, and relationships. “Social networking services can be used for organising activities, events, or groups to showcase issues and opinions and make a wider audience aware of them.” (ReachOut) This could be seen with the Black Lives Matter Movement and how people organized timeline blackouts on Instagram and Facebook to highlight police violence. Suddenly the world realized that the issues in America with racism, police violence, and death had reached an all time high. Before the internet these deaths happened silently now they are broadcast worldwide.
With school becoming virtual, young people had to experience learning differently. “People can learn through using social media such as Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr, and in multiplayer gaming environments. Social media, including gaming environments, provide platforms for intellectual exploration, the exchange of ideas, and the communal construction of projects. Students can get significant feedback from their peers using social media, and they can learn skills by building things together.” (Greenhow, 2016.) In the book by Greenhow, he talks about how the world is going towards a digital future and how it won’t happen overnight. Like the article by ReachOut it highlights the benefits of having young people being able to develop ideas and discover others who have similar interests or thoughts.
Though social media has its benefits, it also has a dark side. “Teens who use social media and similar platforms excessively may also develop addictive behaviors, especially when they have fewer offline social ties and suffer from social anxiety. These addictive behaviors often lead to poorer mental health and an increased risk of identity theft via malicious profiles.” (McHugh, B., Wisniewski, P., Rosson, M., & Carroll, J. 2018.) There is also a digital divide where some young people may not have access to social media.
Overall, there are more people now more than ever using social media and the internet to stay connected. “Young people’s social experiences and relationships play a crucial role in their decision to use certain social media platforms and their modes of engagement in these spaces. Stevens et al. (2016) describe young people’s online communities as their digital neighborhood; within these carefully curated digital neighborhoods, social media can also be seen as a “super peer” that has the ability to influence behavior, shift attitudes, and shape cultural norms.” It’ll be interesting to see as time goes on if young people can achieve equitable online spaces. Especially with what is happening in the world today.
Brough, M., Literat, I., & Ikin, A. (2020). “Good Social Media?”: Underrepresented Youth Perspectives on the Ethical and Equitable Design of Social Media Platforms. Social Media + Society, 6(2), 205630512092848–. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120928488
Greenhow, C., Sonnevend, J., & Agur, C. (2016). Education and social media : toward a digital future . The MIT Press.
McHugh, B., Wisniewski, P., Rosson, M., & Carroll, J. (2018). When social media traumatizes teens: The roles of online risk exposure, coping, and post-traumatic stress. Internet Research, 28(5), 1169–1188. https://doi.org/10.1108/IntR-02-2017-0077
ReachOut. (n.d.). Benefits of internet and social media. Retrieved March, 12, 2021, from Canvas.
Stevens, R., Dunaev, J., Malven, E., Bleakley, A., Hull, S. (2016). Social media in the sexual lives of African American and Latino youth: Challenges and opportunities in the digital neighborhood. Media and Communication, 4(3), 60–70