Social media is the sharing of information, collaborating, and interacting with others through web community sites. It has exploded across the globe in the last ten years. One person can make a posting and it has the possibility of going viral within hours. Millions upon millions of people might see a post that a person intended to only have seen by their friends. Social media can be fun to use because it allows the user to keep up with friends and the community around them. However, it also has the power to make people worldwide celebrities or despised villains.

There are several popular social media sites. Facebook is the most well known out of them all. The Facebook site is the most visited website on the internet every single day. The most popular ones include Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Many may not have thought of YouTube as a social media network, but it certainly is. It allows users to display personal videos and other content, comment on almost everything on the site, messaging, sharing, and even likes and dislikes.

How Has Social Media Changed Life for the Youth

We all remember hearing stories from our grandparents and even parents about how things used to be in the old days. We would shake our heads and laugh at how behind the times they were back then. Children are now doing that same thing today when they hear stories of the past, except they may be rolling their eyes even when people in their twenties are sharing these tales of growing up without all this technology.

Growing up in a world without any sort of social media? Kids nowadays cannot fathom that. Yet it was not long ago that the social media term was created. Instead of actually having to get out of the house to hang out with friends, now kids can just about use any device to make contact with them and never leave the comfort of their own room.

The Positive

Social media allows everyone to have an identity. No longer will a kid just be known as this person’s younger brother/sister or the son/daughter of this couple. It enables them to have an individual identity that might be missing in the school setting.

High school can be a ruthless place for the shy or quirky kid. Their peers may not give them a second glance in the hallways. In the classroom, they sometimes seem invisible. However, through social media, they can offer up a carefully crafted identity online that portrays to everyone who they are and what they believe. It allows them to reach out to others that have similar interests and beliefs across the globe. Their friendships are no longer limited to just their hometown, instead they are able to connect with the whole world around them. The possibilities are endless!

The Negative

We all can recall the presentations they put on at school when we were younger about not talking to strangers. Unfortunately, with social media, part of the enticement of it is that you are communicating with people that you do not always know. Friends of friends can almost always see any comments that are posted. Public pages in social media allow just about anyone to see your comments or likes and dislikes.

The major problem there are disturbed adults can create fake profiles that will enable them to communicate with just about anyone they wish. If they are trying to become friends online with a high school girl, they can do this by creating a fake account for a high school girl or a cute high school boy. We no longer know just who we are communicating with online. We have all seen those tv programs that present bizarre and deadly cases of catfishing. Parents mistakenly believe their children are safe when they are at home, but when they are on social media, it can be a dangerous place.

Keep Safe and Sane

The key for the youth is to have social media just be a hobby on the side. Too many times we see groups of people together and instead of talking with one another, they are all looking at their phones. Kids need to keep a firm grasp on just what the real world is like.

We hear all the time people brag about having 500 “friends” online on their social media. My question would be how many of those 500 have you met in person? How many of those 500 would help you out if you were in a bind? As much fun as it is to think we are popular online, it’s more important to have actual physical friends in your life. I am not saying social media is a bad thing, I am just pointing out to keep your mind based in reality and act responsibly when it comes to others that you do not know. There should definitely be more presentations in school speaking about this with children as young as third grade. Educate them early and often!