The positive and negative effects of social media on young people

Social media can be seen as a curse and blessing to the world. Society is divided by their views on it, you either love it or hate it and there is definitely valid points for both sides of the argument. No matter how hard you try in today’s society it is almost impossible to escape social media.

Facebook is currently the biggest social media platform with almost 2 billion users (just over a quarter of the current global population). The biggest portion of Facebook's user age demographic is made up of 25 to 34 year olds which aligns with  my experience that the amount of young people that are currently active users of Facebook is decreasing whilst the amount of young people using other sites like Snapchat and Instagram is increasing and their influence on young people’s lives is growing bigger than anyone could have imagined.

Whilst the thought of social media invading young people’s lives is scary there is also a lot of benefits to it you do not see unless you use it, for example on Instagram it is common for “communities” to develop that offer young people the opportunity to communicate with other people similar to them around the globe. There are a number of accounts dedicated to and run by people that may be oppressed or minority communities where they live e.g. lgbtq+,black, Hispanic or Asian (among many others). They offer a safe space for young people to discuss and learn about topics that currently affect them that they may not be able to find in real life. This space for discussion could help build confidence of the young people in their ability to discuss and raise awareness of important issues that are ignored in mainstream media and not discussed in daily life. This may hopefully even translate to higher levels or to more influential job roles such as politicians and teachers as young people feel more confident in their abilities to discuss important issues.

Social media can also be a source of inspiration for young people to start their own business, for example there are many accounts run by people under 20 with over 1 million followers that used their Instagram account to create and advertise a product or service which in many cases have turned into successful business that employ a number of people and can easily financially support them.

However there is also a lot of negatives to social media for example it can be a source of distraction from education due to extended usage times. Some young people use social media so much we are seeing cases of internet addiction. Social media is also contributing to the toxic beauty standards in society due to the amount of editing and photoshopping that goes into high profile peoples (celebrities and “social media stars” / influencers) images they post online. Many young people follow and admire these people and feel they need to look like them. This can lead to many mental health issues as young people begin to feel that the need to reach these unattainable beauty standards to be accepted and valued by society.

Social media also offers a platform for communication that can be easily exploited by bullies and people wanting to make other people’s lives more difficult. Cyber bullying is extremely common due to the fact that the people doing the bulling do not physically see the affect there words are having on the people they bully so they find it easier to do. Cyber bulling can greatly impact a young person’s life and permanently damage their mental health and confidence. Bullying victims are also 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims.

In my opinion the positive and negative effects that social media will have a young person cannot be measured or easily controlled and are essentially unavoidable for a young person who uses any form of social media, however with the correct guidance and support we can make sure that the positives outweigh the negatives and social media has an overall more positive effect on young people’s lives.