Social media is an internet-based platform that enables users to quickly share material such as personal information, documents, movies, and images electronically. It is a popular internet activity that has enriched society to such an extent that it is practically impossible to avoid it.
Globally, approximately 3.6 billion individuals used social media in 2020, with a predicted 4.41 billion in 2025.
Most of the world’s population is on social platforms, whether they are young or old, poor or rich. Even the corporate world has jumped into the bandwagon of using social platforms for their business and running advertisements.
That is why it is important to say that, over the past two decades, social media has risen in both popularity and growth, to the point that many researchers are now interested in learning more about these social platforms and their influence on the audience.
The Use of Social Media by Different Age Groups.
Despite the fact that practically everyone in the community is on social platforms, children and teens are the most active users, socializing even when in class or at the chapel. According to the data presented by US Stats who used social media in February 2019, categorized by age. During that time span, 90% of individuals aged 18-29 utilized social platforms. In this context, experts have proven that social media platforms have a significant influence on our society’s youth’s morality, behavior, and even education.
Usage Of Different Social Platforms.
When the usage of certain platforms was studied, it was also brought to light that Most 18- to 29-year-olds use Instagram or Snapchat, and about half TikTok. People on the younger end of this group – ages 18 to 24 – are more likely to say they use Instagram (76%), Snapchat (75%), or TikTok (55%).
Many teenagers’ lives revolve around social platforms. Most 13-29-year old’s use social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat virtually every day, according to a Pew Research Center poll in 2021.
We will further divide the usage on the basis of generations such as Gen-Z, Millennials, etc. These generations are based on popular opinion as well as fresh data by the Pew Research Center,
- Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Born 1996 – 2015.
- Millennials, or Generation Y: Born between 1977 and 1995.
- Generation X was born between 1965 and 1976.
- Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964.
- Traditionalists or the Silent Generation: Those born between 1945 and 1945.
How each generation had been using social sites and networking had been studied by various researchers.
Gen-Z. The usage of smartphones and social sites by Gen Z is rising. In the third quarter of last year, they spent an average of almost 4 hours each day using apps, not including gaming as per research. 65% of Gen Z people increased their social networking use in the previous year, and 45% anticipate it to continue in the next three years. Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest are all examples of social commerce platforms geared toward Generation Z. It has been calculated by the Global Web Index that screen usage on several devices (phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and TVs) is projected at 8 hours per day for Generation Z.
Millennials. Social networks are a huge aspect of Millennials’ digital lives, partly because they have progressed beyond personal connections. Millennials are increasingly using social media to communicate with their friends and the public. So far this year, 63% have increased their use, and 46% anticipate it to continue over the next three years. 79% of millennials use social media daily. They also spend time on several platforms rather than just one. Many reasons exist for Millennials to use social media, but the most common is to keep up with current events (36%) and/or discover hilarious and interesting material (36%). Others use social media to pass the time (34%) or keep up with friends’ activities (32%).
The Influencer Culture.
One reason to be more on social media is the influencer culture. This itself has taken its own identity in the recent era. So, what does the term “influencer” really mean? According to the Oxford Dictionary, an influencer is “a person who has the power to persuade potential buyers of a product or service via social media promotion or recommendation.
Though considered universally relatable, influencers only connect to a select number of individuals. It is because they portray unrealistic standards of almost everything. According to a recent survey, over three-quarters of Gen Z and millennials in the United States follow influencers on social media, and the majority trust influencers more than their favorite celebrities when it comes to brand or product advice.
However, youth not only trust influencers; they want to be them. Youngsters seem to desire influence, but they are unaware that what they really want is mass recognition. According to a poll by research company Morning Consult, 86% of Gen Z and millennials questioned would post sponsored content for money and 54% would become influencers if given the chance. Another study shows that 54% of Americans aged 13 to 38 would become “influencers” if given the opportunity, with 12% currently believing themselves to be influencers.
A few reasons why everyone wants to be an influencer are having more earnings than a regular job, adjusting your own time schedule, easy work like filming and posing for the camera and having more opportunities than usual people.
Benefits Vs Harms of Social Media.
Teens may create internet accounts, engage with others, and form social networks via the use of social media platforms. Youth, especially those who are neglected, have disabilities, or are afflicted by chronic conditions, may benefit greatly from these communities’ services.
Benefits of Social Media
Teens often use social media for amusement and self-expression, as well as for schoolwork and homework. Furthermore, the platforms may expose kids to current events, enable them to engage with one another beyond geographical boundaries, and educate them on a range of issues, including healthy practices. Teens who use social media in an interesting way, or who make significant connections with their peers and a large social network, may be less likely to suffer from depression.
- Rectify Isolation. As teenagers discover their identity, they become more independent and outgoing, with increased self-esteem. According to a 2015 study, teens report feeling less lonely than their peers even if their social circles have shrunk over the last decade. Aside from this, they claim to feel less alone because of the use of social sites and networking.
- Creativity. Social inspiration may be generated via social media, motivating young people to establish healthy habits, try new things, pursue their aspirations, and speak up about issues that are important to them. Social networking may help one become creative, gain problem-solving skills, and discover new ways of doing things. Additionally, teens may encounter excellent role models online. Study indicates that kids are learning greater social skills as a result of their social media usage.
- Identity Formation. Studies reveal that young people who express themselves on social media are happier. They gain self-awareness and self-knowledge by creating and expressing their thoughts. This helps with maturation and builds self-esteem.
- Educational Resource. Social media may be a great tool for teaching teenagers. While talking to kids one-on-one allows for better control of the narrative, social media, and the internet, in general, may still be used to educate young people. They may discover new things via articles published on social media or videos on YouTube and other sites. The use of social media by educational institutions, news networks, and other educational agencies is widespread. Additionally, a plethora of apps provides guidance and assistance for cultivating a more optimistic mindset and establishing healthy habits such as meditation and exercise.
- Better Communication skills. One of the main benefits of social media is its social element. It allows teens to safely communicate with their classmates and even meet new friends. Teenagers who struggle to interact offline might use social media to improve their social skills and locate individuals who share their interests. Teenagers may learn to debate and converse on a range of issues via social media.
Disadvantages of Social Media
On the other hand, social media may have a negative effect on youth by distracting them, interfering with their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, gossip circulating, unrealistic views of other people’s lives, and peer pressure.
- Mental Health. The hazards may be tied to how much time kids spend on social media. 2019 research of over 6,500 12- to 15-year-olds in the United States discovered that individuals who spend more than three hours per day on social media may be at an increased risk of developing mental health issues. According to a new study conducted in England in 2019, which included more than 12,000 13- to 16-year-olds, browsing social networking sites more than three times a day was connected with poor mental health and well-being among adolescents.
- Depression & Anxiety. Additionally, some research has shown associations between excessive social media usage and depression or anxiety symptoms. Over 450 adolescents participated in a 2016 study that discovered that increased internet usage, midnight social networking use, and emotional involvement in social media — such as feeling angry when unable to log in — were all associated with poor sleep quality as well as increased levels of anxiety and depression in the participants.
Another CNN study of 13-year-olds and social media revealed surprising discoveries. Participants who checked Facebook or other social networking sites 50-100 times each day were 37% more upset than those who checked just a few times. Those who checked over 100 times each day were 47% more upset. Learn more about depression and its outcomes here.
- Less Life Satisfaction. The method by which teenagers interact with social networking sites may also have an impact on their performance. Researchers revealed in 2015 that there is a relationship between teens’ use of social media platforms such as Facebook and their smartphones, as well as their opinion seeking, and depressive symptoms. Additionally, in 2013 small research discovered that older teenagers who used social media passively, such as by just browsing other people’s images, reported decreased life satisfaction. These decreases did not affect those who utilized social media to communicate with others or to share their own material.
A previous study indicated that the more time students spent on Facebook, the more they believed others were happier than they were. However, the more time students spent interacting with their friends, the less likely it was that they would experience this emotion again.
- Addictive. For some individuals, social media usage reaches a point where it exhibits many of the symptoms of addiction, including being cognitively obsessed with it, forgoing other life events to use it, concealing or downplaying its use, and using it to achieve a desired mood change. According to 2016 research published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, Internet addiction affects 4.1 percent of boys and 3.6 percent of girls who are heavy social media users.
According to a review of research published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, “sudden withdrawal of online social networking may elicit signs and symptoms that match those associated with drug/alcohol/nicotine abstinence syndrome in certain chronic users.”
- Cyber Bullying. Due to the impulsive character of teenagers, experts believe that youths who post information on social media run the danger of publishing intimate photographs or intensely personal experiences. As a consequence, kids may face bullying, harassment, and even blackmail. Teens often write postings without regard for these ramifications or privacy issues. 59% of teenagers in the United States have been bullied or harassed online, and a comparable percentage believes it is a significant problem for kids their age. The youth are in danger because their personal information is stored in locations, they are unaware of, or whose security is unknown or suspected.
As technology in general, social media offers both a benefit and a drawback. And when it comes to the social media impacts on youth, those positives and drawbacks are especially relevant.
Causes of Excessive Usage of Social Media
Do social media usage trigger biological or chemical processes? How do they influence the mind? Scientists have discovered that overusing technology, and online media, causes a stimulation pattern comparable to other addictive habits.
According to a recent study, obtaining “likes” on social media stimulates the same circuits in the adolescent brain as are triggered by things like eating chocolate or earning money, according to the researchers. It was also explained that just like real-life friendships, social media connections cause dopamine release—a chemical that causes emotions of pleasure and functions in the brain’s reward region.
How To Practice Safe Social Media Usage?
Set Reasonable Limits.
It’s very hard for anyone to quit social networking life so easily in this era, but if you don’t want to give up social media completely, you may set a daily time restriction for how much time you spend on it. “I’ll spend no more than 10 minutes per day on Instagram,” or “I’ll spend no more than 15 minutes per day on all social media.” In any case, this method is not failsafe. There’s no assurance you won’t breach your own rules when you restrict your time rather than quitting. Here are a few tips to stay consistent,
- Determine in advance the nature of your connection with social media.
- Establish guidelines for yourself.
- Construct barriers that cause you to hesitate before breaking your rules.
- Be consistent with your objectives.
Limiting screen time has been proven in 2018 University of Pennsylvania research indicated that limiting social media usage to 30 minutes per day reduced anxiety, melancholy, loneliness, sleep issues, and fear of missing out. Not only does this benefit you now, but it also establishes a solid basis for the future if you want to reduce your reliance on social media.
Track Time on Social Media.
Using social media may seem overwhelming, but how much is too much? How much must be cut? You can’t know unless you assess your actions today. There are a few tools and apps that may help you limit and monitor your data such as Digital Well Being by Googe, even iPhone has a built-in Screentime tool that may also help. One may do a search for “phone use tracker apps” to see which one works best for them.
Facebook and Instagram’s mobile applications also measure time. This feature records your daily app use and calculates an average. Users have the facility to set a daily time restriction for how long they wish to spend on the app. Once reached, an in-app notice alert.
Disconnect Yourself from What You Don’t Like.
If engaging with or reading postings from a person or organization makes you angry, terminate connections. While it may feel wonderful to vent after being enraged by their words, such a connection is ultimately detrimental to your mental health.
Also lashing out at others or spreading bad ideas or beliefs affects you as well. With social media, the old adage “If you can’t say anything kind, don’t say anything at all” rings true. Instead of criticizing, you might give solutions to what you oppose. Prefacing talks with “I have another perspective” may help avoid combative situations.
Be More in Reality.
We all need social contact to be happy and healthy. At its finest, social media can help people meet in person. You can still make meaningful relationships without depending on social media if you haven’t already. Schedule weekly offline time with friends/relatives. Make it a regular event with no phones. If you haven’t seen an old buddy in a while, make plans to meet together.
Spend at least one hour every week on a screen-free pastime. According to research, those who participate in arts-related activities (performing arts, visual arts, reading, etc.) for two or more hours per week report much higher levels of mental health than those who engage in other forms of interaction. Commit to an hour of screen-free fun once a week. Attend a yoga class, read a book, establish an herb garden, or stroll a friend’s dog. Once you’ve discovered something you love doing, you may extend the hours or add more activities.
Think Before Posting.
Social media security is directly connected to the amount of personal information one provides. Bear in mind that once someone posts anything online, it is there forever. While you may be able to erase the initial post, it is likely that it has been stored online in some way. Never publish information that you are not comfortable with the public knowing. Keep your profile and posts’ contact information to a minimum. Never share your phone number or address with anybody.
It may be tempting to share your social media life with everyone but it’s better to be on the safer side by maintaining the confidentiality of sensitive information without posting it. If you’d like to share this information with a friend, call or text them directly.
Know What Information is Shared.
Limit Your Data.
It is advised by experts to limit social site access to your data, when you play a game or take a quiz on social networking site, you are often given access to your personal data. It may seem harmless at first, but it can have access to your email, and personal information and even make posts on social sites. The best thing to do is to deny such a type of access.
Check Your Own Name.
For the purpose of ensuring the security of one’s account, it is advisable to look for their profile from the perspective of someone who is doing a search on the internet. This step will inform the account user of what information is available to others. When someone searches for his or her own profile on a search engine, he or she will be able to discover whether any bogus profiles have been put up in his or her name as well.
When it comes to social media, it is a massive and gigantic world packed with different websites and audiences that are always there to assist anyone. There is no question that social media has completely engulfed society, and we cannot imagine a world without it.
In conclusion, social networking has been demonstrated to have both beneficial and harmful impacts on our youngsters. Teens must decide whether to continue using the platforms or to stop or reduce their use. Parents should educate their children on current issues such as social networking use and warn them of the dangers of misuse or overuse. The education curriculum must also be changed to include social media studies in order to educate youngsters on the importance of social network use.