In this article, we are going to take a closer look at the impact that social media has on the minds of young adults. Social media has become an indispensable part of our lives. We cannot imagine our lives without the internet. Social media are not just places to connect with people, they are also repositories of memories, knowledge, and other necessary information. Some people’s businesses and livelihoods are made possible due to social media.
It is not a frivolous thing as the Boomers would have us believe. The debates as to the impact of social media on young adults have been popular and wide-ranging.
In this article, we will tap into some of these debates and analyze the impact of social media on the lives of young adults
Puberty and Social Media
Puberty is a time that is characterized by the emergence and development of an individual’s personality. It is a time when accepted beliefs come to be actively challenged and questioned. This creates an increasing uncertainty both about the self and the world. Social media with its often glittery, unrealistic, and selective portrayal of people’s lives can exacerbate this sense of uncertainty.
Studies have shown a large number of teenagers impacted by the portrayal of certain idealistic bodily standards which leads to eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and depression. Moreover, since social media is largely unregulated, young adults are exposed to sexist, homophobic, or racist content through articles, memes, and short video clips under the guise of entertainment. There is also a risk of cyberbullying and harassment that can turn to traumatic and harrowing experiences for teenagers.
Advantages of Social Media
The picture, however, is not all bleak. If there is a proliferation of content that can only be characterized as hate speech, there is good content too. Pages that actively seek to dismantle and question accepted beliefs regarding gender, sexuality, and unrealistic beauty standards. It all depends on the algorithm. Most social media platforms suggest and display content based on what the person has clicked on. Social media helps people to come to terms with multiple angles of discourse through democratized commenting and creation platforms.
Social media also offers a space for the teen to express their creativity. In case they create content that appeals to an audience, they could benefit from it even financially. Social media also exposes people to the news, latest information, growth opportunities, and online contests that are beneficial and act as teachable and learning experiences. You could showcase your art, outfits, or even your daily life- there are no rules as such.
Ideally, however, the usage of social media should be regulated. Too much screen time leads people to miss out on other physical and material activities. It also puts strain on the eyes and messes with the concentration span. Exposure to large amounts of information also leads to what is now known as information overload that creates a sense of anxiety. One should use social media keeping in mind that people’s profiles are highly selected curation of content. All the accounts should be private and password protected to escape from rampant cyberbullying, threats to privacy, and harassment. In case the teens feel overwhelmed, they should have supportive and understanding adults to talk to. In this way, they can be both active and responsible users of social media.