Social media use by Pre-teens and teens

Internet and its usage has become an issue of great concern due to its imperceptibility yet devastating effects on teens. The question that one may ask is, how far should the juvenile minds go with the internet? Do they stand to gain or lose more from its use?
Zachariah Mayaka Nyamosi
Zachariah Mayaka Nyamosi

Internet and its usage has become an issue of great concern due to its imperceptibility yet devastating effects on teens. The question that one may ask is, how far should the juvenile minds go with the internet? Do they stand to gain or lose more from its use?

Because of their limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents are at some risk as they navigate and experiment with social media. Recent research indicates there are frequent online expressions of offline behaviors, such as bullying, clique-forming, and sexual experimentation. Other problems that merit awareness include Internet addiction and sleep deprivation.

Many parents today use technology incredibly well and feel comfortable and capable with the programmes and online venues that their children and adolescents are using. Nevertheless, some parents may find it difficult to relate to their digitally savvy youngsters online for several reasons. Such parents may lack a basic understanding of these new forms of socialization which are integral to their children’s lives. They frequently do not have the technical abilities or time needed to keep pace with their children in the ever-changing Internet landscape. In addition, these parents often lack a basic understanding that kids’ online lives are an extension of their offline lives. The end result is often a knowledge and technical skill gap between parents and the  youth, which creates disconnect in how these parents and the youth participate in the online world together.

Benefits of social media

Social media sites allow teens to accomplish online many of the tasks that are important to them offline: staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing pictures, and exchanging ideas. Social media participation also can offer adolescents deeper benefits that extend into their view of self, community, and the world.

Middle and high school students are using social media to connect with one another on homework and group projects For example, Facebook and similar social media programmes allow students to gather outside of class to collaborate and exchange ideas about assignments. Some schools successfully use blogs as teaching tools, which has the benefit of reinforcing skills in English, written expression, and creativity.

Adolescents are finding that they can access online information about their health concerns easily and anonymously. Excellent health resources are increasingly available to the youth on a variety of topics of interest to them, such as sexually transmitted infections, stress reduction, and signs of depression. Adolescents with chronic illnesses can access Web sites through which they can develop supportive networks of people with similar conditions. However, because of their young age, adolescents can encounter inaccuracies during these searches and require parental involvement to be sure they are using reliable online resources, interpreting the information correctly, and not becoming overwhelmed by the information they are reading. Encouraging parents to ask about their children’s and adolescents’ online searches can help facilitate not only discovery of this information but discussion on these topics.

Risks

Using social media becomes a risk to adolescents more often than most adults realise. Most risks fall into the following categories: peer-to-peer; inappropriate content; lack of understanding of online privacy issues; and outside influences of third-party advertising groups.

Cyberbullying is deliberately using digital media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information about another person. It is the most common online risk for all teens and is a peer-to-peer risk.

Facebook Depression

Researchers have proposed a new phenomenon called “Facebook depression,” defined as depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.

 Acceptance by and contact with peers is an important element of adolescent life. The intensity of the online world is thought to be a factor that may trigger depression in some adolescents. As with offline depression, preadolescents and adolescents who suffer from Facebook depression are at risk for social isolation and sometimes turn to risky Internet sites and blogs for “help” that may promote substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, or aggressive or self-destructive behaviors.

 

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