Social media as defined by Merriam-Websterin 2016 as any “forms of electronic communication (such as website) throughwhich users create online communities to share information, ideas, personalmessages and other contents (such as videos)”. Social media is an essentialconstituent of today’s society, with tons of information being circulated overthe internet. Some of the most popular social media websites are BaiduTieba, Gab,Google+, Instagram,LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest,Reddit, Twitter, Weibo, WhatsApp and YouTube. Social network sites are reported to havemore than 100,000,000 registered users.
A youth is best understood as a period of transition fromthe dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of ourinterdependence as members of a community and the society (UNESCO). It is alsoseen as a time when someone is neither a child nor an adult but ratherin-between, as long as a person is able to make decisions and choices tohis/her own benefit and detriment, he/she is considered to be a youth. It is anage between 15-35 years when an individual reflects noticeable changes indesire, actions or attitude, feelings and traits.Furthermore, social media’s history stretches far deeperthan anyone might imagine or recall. Social media existed in various formsbefore the 20th century (such as telephone, radio, postal serviceand the telegraph) it enjoyed a massive boost in the 20th centurywith the earliest forms of internet such as UseNet (1979’s), CompuServe(1960s)and Six Degrees(1997). Blogging sites became popular in 1999, which created alasting sensation that’s still growing today although recently at the expanseof the youths. Youths have translated their need for knowledge, recognition,acceptance, communication and friendship to virtually all social media sites.The people who are at the point of molding the future of social medianetworking sites are teenagers and youths.
This is because a handful ofinternet users are teenagers and youths. Reportedly, many young people spend anaverage of eight hours online every day, much of that time is used to chat,send/receive messages, pictures and making comments, rarely focusing onlearning and research. Media network sites such as Facebook, Whatsapp,LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, will remain popular among children and teens due toits provision of satisfaction, low cost features, universal acceptance andspeedy communication. In ancient times precisely in the 1950s to 1980s, wewitnessed the way Television turned a nation of people who listened to mediacontent to watchers of media content, the growth of social media has done same differentlyby creating a nation of media content creators. It was reported that between2012 and 2014 witnessed a growth in usage of social media sites by youths agedbetween 18-29 years from 9 percent to 49 percent (Pew Research Centre’sinternet project library survey) as indicated below; BBC news research (2013) reported that sixty seven percentof Facebook users are composed of youths and students.
According to CNN, in 2010 75% of people got their newsforwarded through e-mail or social media posts, whereas 37% of people shared anews item via Facebook or Twitter. Social media is so popularthat its worldwide usage is expected to reach about 2.95 billion by the year2020, which is around a third of the Earth’s entire population.Social media can be used inways that promote positive and productive ideas in society. These positivebehaviors make social media an invaluable tool to teenagers and youths if usedcorrectly. Below are some of the ways in which social media has influenced theyouths:· Socialnetworking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are constantly being used byteenagers and youths to create a voice for the voiceless. For instance, groupslike “Disability is not inability”, FIFA’s “Say no to racism” campaign and hashtag “#Bringbackourgirls” which created a buzz worldwide and caught theattention of world leaders, are being used to make society more conscious ofhow to treat people with certain disabilities, difference in color, race orreligion and fast-track the government’s efforts to rescue its citizens fromterrorist groups.· Socialmedia platforms are used to educate teenagers and youths, prior to the growthof social media advising, lecturing and talking to young people through aface-to-face contact medium was considered ideal, social media in recent timescan do the same job with more speed and efficiency to a broader audience all atonce.
· Socialmedia has been able to give youths the power to hone different skills that areimportant in the world today, interacting freely and easily with fellowteenagers on these sites are increasing each day and it would also extend toworkplaces in a short time, brought about by the growth in exposure todifferent people while communicating online, some of whom may be theirpotential employers later on. YouTube houses thousands of video clips to giveindividuals an opportunity to perfect their various talents or skills forinstance, programming, playing guitar, drumming and Swimming.· Youth’sinvolvement and active participation are enhanced through sharing of rich content;it has helped young people to think outside the box in many occasions, creatingnew and interesting content, sharing unique ideas and information. Young peoplenow spring up new methods and ways of going about things to expressindividuality and creativity. However, in spite of the aboveinfluences there are also some negative influences clearly observable on youthswhich are as follows; · Socialmedia can create a false sense of understanding among people who are not directlyinvolved in the issue. An example of social media creating misconceptions canbe seen during the Arab Spring protests. Today’s generation rely heavily onsocial media to understand what is happening in the world, and consequentlypeople are exposed to both true and false information.
For example, Americanshave several misconceptions surrounding the events of the Arab Springs movement.Social media can be used to create political change, both major and minor. Forexample, in 2011 Egyptians used Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as a means tocommunicate and organize political rallies to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak.Statistics show that during this time the rate of Tweets from Egyptiansincreased from 2,300 to 230,000 per day and the top 23 protest videos hadapproximately 5.5 million views2. 06· Youngpeople now parade themselves as perfect people today, with perfect body, hairand skin, maybe that’s what it appeals to young people today.
Credits toPhotoshop, the standard of beauty has become impossible to attain and theseimages are everywhere. Consequently it has led to young people having distortedbody image. For instance a girl getting more likes on a Photoshop “Selfie” thananother girl is going to make the girl with less likes self-conscious aboutherself.· Young people areexposed to the ever-present risk of bullying, to cyber bully someone is todeliberately use digital media to intentionally expose, cause harm or embarrassthat particular person. It is one of the most common online risks faced byteenagers and youths in fact it can happen to anybody. According to StudyMoose.
com; a girl of 15 years old on October 19 2017, hung herself. Shortlybefore she did this, she made a YouTube video showing why she would commit thisunfortunate act, and what made her carry out this extremely painful act was asa result of bullying on many social media sites. Research carried out by McAfee (2014)”teens and the screenstudy” shows that 87 percent of youths have experienced cyber bullying. · Socialmedia has changed the way people particularly youths now consume pornographicmaterials; they now have a greater possibility of viewing or accessing thoseproblematic materials at their own initiative or accidentally through pop-ups.Research has revealed that 57 percent of ages 9-19 years have come across oreven visited pornographic sites with or without their conceptual knowledge.· Youthsare involved in rampant plagiarism without any restriction whatsoever, forinstance if a world renowned website or individual posts a message orstatement, millions of users often copy this messages and paste sameinformation sometimes wanting to or even taking credit as its developers· Socialmedia network sites promotes unreliability and deceit among youths, youths cancreate and operate multiple accounts with completely different names andidentity and share separate topics, messages, media clips, videos, pictures andinformation to unsuspecting users of the same site. Conclusively, social media has we’ve discussed above hasdemonstrated how it can influence the youths and teenagers life on both ends,which may sometimes be in favor or against their social lives. Before nowsocial media seemed like a new set of “cool apps” with little or no effect atall, but they’ve become one of the most influential sources of gettinginformation, ideas, perfection of skills, creating awareness etc.
across theworld including Pakistan where young people have expressed hitch-free exposureand used it to create positive awareness among youths.Youths and teenagers have been touted as the irresistibleforce driving social media, however some have been victims of cyber bulling,pornographic consumption, sexual victimization and other health andpsychological defects such as low self-esteem and loss of attention. With 57percent of 9 to 19 years old admitting to having contact through their owninitiative or accidentally with online pornography.
although its negative influences clearlyoutweighs the positive ones, youths, teenagers and children should keep in mindthe primary purposes of using social network sites which are to meet people,share ideas, share pictures, videos, give comments etc. in remembrance thatthey may encounter information that may be offensive or harmful to theirreligion, nation and cultural values or norms. Therefore youths should notcreate hatred among them, try to separate groups or bring enmity amongst userson the platform, but rather try to bring each other closer to form a non-formidablebond to fight these incessant negative effects it has brought into the sociallives of all users.Thank you for the opportunity and your consideration. ReferencesKhan S.
(2011) impact of social media networking sites onstudents, Abasyn journal of social sciences 5: 55-77Kaplan A. M. and HaenleinMichael (2010). Users of the world, unite: The challenges andopportunities of social media. Business Horizons 53(1): 61. Doi.
1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003 Rita Njoroge(K50/70581/2011).
Impacts of social media among the youth on behavioral change:a case study of university students in selected universities in Nairobi, KenyaKuppuswamy S, Narayan PB (2011). The impacts of socialnetworking websites on the education of youthAmanda L, et al… (July 27, 2005). Teens and Technology.
Retrievedfrom http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/2005/teens-and-technology.aspxSocial media effects retrieved from http://www.turbofuture.
com/internet/effects-of-social-media-on-our-youthAvailable at http://www.toptenreviews.com/software/articles/30-statistics-about-teens-and-social-networking.retrieved2017-12-20Available at http://academic.mintel.
com/display/742016/?highlight#hit1.Retrieved 2017-12-20Obar, Jonathan A.; Wildman,Steve (2015). “Social media definition and the governance challenge: Anintroduction to the special issue”.
Telecommunications policy. 39 (9): 745–750. doi:10.1016/j.
SSRN 2647377? .Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media.Retrieved 2017-12-26Available at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social%20media.Retrieved 2017-12-26Available at http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/youth/youth-definition/.Retrieved 2017-12-26Available at http://www.Statista.com/topics/1164/social-networks.Retrieved 2017-12-24Available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/children/11943810/excessive-social-media-use-harms-childrens-mental-health.html.Retrieved 2017-12-24