What Social Media Can Teach Us…

When you hear internet use and children, there seems to be an instant state of panic that takes over. We instantly begin to think of all the negative things that can happen to children. All the predators lurking about online just waiting to take advantage of our precious offspring. We think of the bulling from peers, pornographic and violent images that they might be exposed to. Children are curious by the way and “forbidding” them from visiting certain websites will just make them want to see it more. Children with access to a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop can be exposed to things that we as adults are simply not ready to explain or want to discuss. Many children will beg their parents to allow them to get on social media so that they can allow them to keep up with their friends. As a parent this is completely normal to have certain reservations about allowing a child to get online. However, as a parent it is equally important to understand the pros to allowing a child to have internet access. It can entice and feed into a child’s imagination and dreams.

For children and young people social media can open many doors and offer benefits such as collaborative learning. Collaborative learning broadens the connection and understanding of the world. By being exposed to various platforms from people across the globe, this allows for children to get different world views and perspectives from people around the world on a variety of topics. This allows children to be educated from beyond their bubble. Allowing kids to be exposed to social media platforms helps them to build upon and understand digital media literacy. As we continue to be flooded with digital information, social media has become a part of our everyday lives. It is how we get our news, holiday sale information, traffic updates, etc. By exposing children to social media at a young age, they develop communication and technical skills. This skillset teaches them how to communicate online and prepare for future work opportunities and social interactions with family and friends, making them all around better communicators.        

As controversial as it may seem, exposing children to social media at a young age can also help with their wellbeing and mental health. Social media can remove the boundaries of meeting and maintaining relationships with people across the globe. This in return can open children and young adults to a culture they might never be exposed to otherwise. It also, can help with support groups for children who may have a physical, mental, or learning disability that causes them to not be comfortable or able to interact with the public. This allows them to still build upon their social skills, gain empathy, and share their interests and ideas with those in a similar situation or mindset. By interacting with their peers, this can also help children and young people to bring awareness of a cause or bad situation for a fellow friend or peer such as abuse or neglect.

Social media helps teens to navigate issues that affect them and their peers by allowing them to gain information on a subject. If a friend is suffering from abuse, addiction, or disorder, teens feel more comfortable going to Google, to find out more information on the subject and how they can possibly help. Since all sources of information in some shape or form are digital, this allows teens to get quick and easy access to information that may affect them on a personal level such as climate change, student loan debt, local and presidential elections.

Social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, or Tic Tok have launched many careers. Whether it be a person that receives 15 minutes of fame, or a Justin Bieber or Tory Kelly. Social media allows for children to showcase their talents, share their achievements, and build an online portfolio that will benefit them down the road. This also helps build their confidence in front of people as they are exposing themselves to be critiqued by others. Showcasing their talents can also provide a sense of security as they can build upon their talents or express feeling with a community of people who “get” them. This in return helps them to become more of an individual and are more extroverted and increased self- esteem.

By starting a blog or YouTube channel, teens and young adults can attract potential college recruiters or future employers as it shows their hobbies, passion, ideas, and viewpoints. For colleges that are very hard to get into, extracurricular activities and writing skills are essential to being competitive in getting into the program. They can be exposed to college networks, scholarships, and even future career circles, they would never have been exposed to before. This shows their creativity, maturity, and drive as this is a passion project. This can lead to the attraction of agents, publishers, producers, and authors who might be interested in assisting them in sharing their story with the masses. Since most entertainers have a social media account, it allows them to share their creations with their idols in hopes of getting positive feedback, a chance to work with them, or even be signed.

Although social media can have negative effects on people due to comparison and isolation. There are many benefits to children and young adults when teaching them how to utilize the platforms smartly. Keeping in mind that children are curious, making sure that you are using the proper filters, keeping conversations open, and keeping the computer in a “public” area in the house will minimize children to being exposed to inappropriate content. Educating them on the dangers as well as the benefits of leveraging digital media can be a game changer for them. Allowing them to engage in healthy social media outlets by using their creativity and express their passions will lead to a more confident and well-rounded human being in the long run.

Source:

Gordon, S. (2020). Surprising Ways Your Teens Benefit from Social Media. Very Well Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/benefits-of-social-media-4067431#social-media-can-strengthen-friendships

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