The typical high school aged student is between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. Every adult who’s spent time with a teenager knows how much of a transitional period this can be. This is the group we’ll focus on as we look at the impact of social media on these children.
Teens are heavily influenced by their peers. This influence is often stronger than that of their parents. These influences cause or help these young people pull away from their family and they become more independent. This is a natural process that has happened long before the advent of social media. The difference is social media gives 24/7 access to anyone and everyone which can lead to more dangerous behaviors, worsening family communications, 24/7 bullying, dangerous dares that are unknown to parents and a higher likelihood that predators can reach these young people in ways they couldn’t before social media.
This group of teenagers prefer the following social media apps:
Studies show that 90% of teens use social media on a regular basis
What is this high rate of social media usage doing to this group of teenagers?
The positives of using social media include:
- It helps make and maintain friendships with people of similar ages and interests
- It lets teenagers explore their individual sense of identity
- It gives access to support networks like those with cultural or religious ties, mental health supports, or LGBTQI+ organizations
- It helps develop digital media literacy and builds in-demand skills for the workforce
- It lets the teenager get involved with other students through collaborative learning projects or online multiplayer gaming and chat sites
The negatives of using social media include:
- It increases the likelihood of being exposed to inappropriate materials like violence and sexual imagery
- It gives teenagers the ability to upload inappropriate content that can be embarrassing and can lead to unintended consequences
- It replaces the face to face communications and connections that is so important in preparing for adulthood and the workforce
- It increases the opportunity for becoming a victim of cyberbullying
- It increases exposure to tons of targeted marketing for various consumer products
- It increases the opportunity that their personal information stolen and sold to other companies or scammers
- It opens the door for predators to know who they are, what they do and where they are
This group of young peole need support and guidance from adults probably more now than when they were a tweener. This is the time they become more independent and begin making decisions for themselves, so adult guidance becomes critical. It is no longer about telling them what to do and who to do it with. It’s now about guiding, asking, being there, letting them know you are there for them and they can call anytime they feel they need help.