Youth and social media go together like bread and butter and there’s really no getting around it. However, psychologists are studying the effects of social media on the youth since its very first inception. Much like with the arrival of the telephone, many have theorized that social media’s poison will without a doubt infect our youth and damage their ability to communicate and expose them to predators and the like. But many psychologists are saying that the youth and social media isn’t necessarily a bad combination, we just have to find ways to use it in a developmentally positive way.
Youth and Social Media | The Dangers
Early research suggests that the youth and social media could in fact be a dangerous combination with the advent of sexting and the threat of predators roaming social media sites posing as younger folks. Here the NY Times delves into some early research on the youth and social media:
Whether about sexting or online bullying or the specter of Internet addiction, “much social media research has been on what people call the danger paradigm,” said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and the director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston.
The danger paradigm definitely exists, but mostly it comes down to good solid parenting and educating your children on the pitfalls of social media rather than allowing them to find out on their own.
Youth and Social Media | Using Facebook to Identify Problems
Many psychologists are trying to use social media to identify problems with the youth, for example suicidal posts or other signs of depression. This is one of the perks of youth and social media, many times the youth will post things that are really personal, just because posting your feelings is almost second nature to this new generation of social media users.
“We should not view social media as either positive or negative, but as essentially neutral,” he said. “It’s what we do with the tools that decides how they affect us and those around us.”
Dr. Moreno’s early research looked at adolescents who displayed evidence of risky behaviors on public MySpace profiles, posting photos or statements that referred to sexual activity or substance abuse. E-mails were sent to those adolescents suggesting that they modify their profiles or make them private.
Girls were more likely to respond than boys, Dr. Moreno found, and sexual material was more likely than alcohol-related material to be removed.
So this is a valid point, however how many of these young people have openly public profiles. Sure this could curb some signs of danger, however many will still go uncovered. On the contrary this isn’t very different than where we were before social media. I would leave it to the psychologists, spying on our young ones can break trust and cause more harm than good. Youth and social media is a really sticky subject.
Youth and Social Media | Benefits
So what are the benefits of youth and social media. Well there are quite a few, NY Times reports:
In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media issued a clinical report, “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents and Families.” It began by emphasizing the benefits of social media for children and adolescents, including enhanced communication skills and opportunities for social connections.
“A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cellphones,” the report noted.
So it just goes back to parental responsibility, the youth and social media needs monitoring and guidance from those they look up to.