The Effects of Social Media on Children
By Angela Barnes and Christine Laird
Social media is quickly evolving in front of our eyes and it is almost impossible to reject and hide from this new form of media. Not only is it an important part of socialization within peer groups but now it is used to market and motivate people to become a part of a larger community. It is undeniably changing the way one communicates and how one finds and shares information. Most websites offer communication through the use of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and many various blog formats. With new apps on smartphones and photography and video made digital, media can be created, edited and shared quickly and once it is in this new digital cloud it is not yours anymore. Through these new advances in technology one can share things about themselves to the world to view, and prior to social media one would have to communicate and share physically. These social media site offer adolescence new ways to access communication and entertainment and the long-term effects are still unknown. For this reason, it is imperative for parents to be more aware of this new media and what it offers both good and bad for our children.
Five aspects of the use of social media:
- not many restrictions on creatively expressing oneself
- easy way to share information
- informal support of other’s work
- general understanding and respect of other people’s forms of expression
- an alternative way of socializing (Chau, 2010)
Positive Effects of Social Media on Children and Adolescents:
There are many ways social media can be used by youth in a positive way. It is not just an avenue for socializing; kids and adolescents can be creative, interact, and learn (Chau, 2010). Social networking provides an alternative way to get students interested in learning with a new and previously unconventional medium (Rosen, 2011). It can also help with “homework and group projects” (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
Even though social media isn’t only used for social interaction, it is an important aspect of adolescents’ lives. Social media provides an avenue for them to stay connected with peers they have met through school, sports teams, church, etc (Ito, 2008). Social networking can also help shy adolescents have a more non-threatening way to interact with peers because they aren’t interacting face-to-face (Rosen, 2011).
It also provides an opportunity for teens to connect with others who share a similar interest (Ito, 2008). Social media sites can provide a place for adolescents to share their interests in art, music, games and blogs with others (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
The teen years can be a challenging time, and social networks can be places for teens to turn to for support and advice when going through challenging experiences (Nielsen, 2009). Adolescents who use Facebook have been shown to demonstrate more “virtual empathy” (Rosen, 2011). Social networking can be a positive and somewhat easier way for adolescents to get to know and become accepting of others from “diverse backgrounds” (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011). As well as providing social support, social media sites can also provide medical support. Adolescents can easily and anonymously seek medical advice (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
Children and adolescents are capable of impacting their communities and even the world in amazing ways. Social media provides them a variety of ways to go about making positive change. Some examples are implementing fundraising campaigns and getting involved in “political events” (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
Negative Effects of Social Media on Children and Adolescents:
Although there are many positive aspects of social media, the negative effects on children and adolescents are also numerous. Social media can affect the mental health of teens. The level of effect, according to research, seems to go up as teens’ use goes up. Their level of contentment can decrease, and their likelihood of getting into trouble or being depressed can increase (Rideout, 2010). Also, teens who use Facebook tend to be more narcissistic, antisocial, and aggrssive (Rosen, 2011).
Many forms of cyberbullying is also a problem and can lead to the victims experiencing depression and anxiety. Cyberbullying has also been the cause of many suicides in young people (Kowalski, 2009).
It is bad enough that there are adolescents who are victims of negative comments by peers, but many are victimized by strangers as well. Many young online users are lured by online sexual predators (Ybarra, 2007).
Because of adolescents and their parents being concerned about the above mentioned risks, more teens care about privacy issues (Youn, 2009). One problem concerning privacy issues is that many adolescents are unaware of the privacy policies on the social media websites they use (Cox, 2007).
Many adolescents are influenced by the powerful advertising they see on social media sites, and it strongly influences their buying habits. Many of them are not aware that they are individually targeted because the sites keep track of their habits and demographics. These young people and their parents need to be aware of how they are targeted so smarter choices can be made around their spending habits (Clark-Pearson, O’Keeffe, 2011).
As with just about everything, social media should be used in moderation. Studies have shown that adolescents and even college students who are on Facebook too much have lower grades (Rosen, 2011).
Carroll, J.A. & Kirkpatrick, R.L. (2011). Impact of social media on adolescent behavioral health. Oakland, CA: California Adolescent Health Collaborative.
Chau, C. (2010). You Tube as a participatory culture. Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 128, 65-74.
Clarke-Pearson, K., O’Keeffe, G., (2011). The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org
Rosen, L.D., (2011). Social Networking’s Good and Bad Impacts on Kids. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org
Social media is such a prevalent part of modern society especially for kids and teens. In most schools phones and mobile devices have been banned from being used during the school day and social media websites like twitter and facebook have been blocked on school computers. Schools are beginning to take a different approach by introducing social media into the educational system itself. Here are some pros and cons of social media in the classroom and how it is being used for educational purposes.
Pros of using social media in the classroom
1. Social media sites can increase student collaboration
Social media sites provide an avenue for students to easily contact one another regarding school projects, group assignments or for help on homework assignments.
2. Using social media in the classroom can encourage more participation
Students who do not participate regularly in class may feel they can express their thoughts through social media. Although this should not completely replace in class participation it can help build the students’ confidence and encourage them to find their voice and be able to participate in class.
3. Social media sites can be useful for homework help
When students have questions about a class assignment they can easily post a message asking if anyone can help. They can also write a specific question to the teacher on a wall that other students can see. This allows the whole class to have access to the feedback from the teacher.
4. Share resources quickly when using social media in the classroom
If the teacher needs to direct students to a particular online resource they can easily share the site through social media sites like twitter. If the teacher wants the class to visit a particular site all they have to do is tweet the website and the entire class can view it with one click.
5. Social media helps keep parents, teachers and students all on the same page
It is very useful for teachers to be able to post on social media sites about class activities, homework assignments and even school events. This helps the teachers, parents and students all stay on the same page about what is going on at school. Sites like facebook also allow teachers to easily communicate through private messages to parents and students without having to leave phone messages and wait for a call back.
5 cons of having social media in the classroom
1. Social media can be a distraction in class
The first concern that comes to mind when using social media in the classroom is how it will be a major distraction to the students during lessons. Students could easily be sidetracked from an assignment and it could be difficult for teachers to tell who is paying attention or not.
2. Improper use of social media in the classroom
Students might take advantage of being able to access social media in the classroom and use it for personal interactions instead of for school related activities. If students are not closely monitored it will be hard to know how if they are using social media properly during class time.
3. Using social media in the classroom can detract from human interaction
If students are encouraged to participate in class discussions through social media websites this could impact their ability to interact in face to face situations. Students still need to learn how to have conversations with people even in this modern technology based world.
4. Cyber bullying on social media websites
Some students have experienced cyber bullying through social media websites. If social media is allowed in schools this could increase cyber bullying where students write hurtful messages targeting other students.
5. Posting inappropriate content on social media websites
One of the reasons social media sites are not allowed in schools is because it is difficult to monitor how students use social media sites. A student may post inappropriate content such as pornography or foul language which would be both distracting and damaging to students.
So, should schools use social media?
There are many pros and cons of using social media in the classroom, so now the question is should schools allow social media in schools? There are some websites that address the negative issues of social media but still allow social media to be used for educational purposes.
This site called https://gaggle.net allows teachers to communicate with students, post assignments on a secure site that can only be accessed by their class, and facilitates class discussions. It is set up with filters to prevent students from posting profanity or pornography. This is a solution that allows schools to embrace the positive aspects social media has to offer education and at the same time helps prevent the negative aspects from being an issue.
Do you think social media in the classroom is a useful tool? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts of why social media does or does not belong in the classroom.
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