Social Media is Beneficial for Teens During CoronaVirus-19
(THE DAVINCI - CHARLOTTESVILLE) - During COVID-19, there has been an increase in the use of social media, especially amongst adolescents. Social media is defined as any online tool that allows for social interaction (e.g., Youtube, Instagram, etc.) The increase in the use of social media has brought up the question of whether there are any harmful ramifications of this increase. The increase in the use of social media in adolescents due to COVID-19 is helping teenagers stay social when they otherwise can not be, and the benefits are greater than the negatives of social media.
During adolescence, peer interactions and peer relationships are a big part of life. The increase in this need to be with peers is due to biological changes that lead adolescents to be highly sensitive to peer feedback. Studies have also shown that isolating a teenager directly correlates to negative health outcomes, including a higher risk of depression and poor physical health. Because COVID-19 has restricted face-to-face interactions, teenagers must have another outlet to stay social. Social media can act as this outlet for teenagers. With social media, teenagers can easily and quickly send a few messages to their friends, and they can get in video calls to talk to each other, or post to update people on their lives and look at their friend’s posts. When a human is in their adolescent years, they want to explore the world on their own to develop their identity. During COVID, however, teenagers have been forced to stay in their house under parent supervision. Social media has allowed adolescents to explore their interests and have a platform to share their creations.
Despite all of the ways social media is helping teenagers during the pandemic, there are worries that it can still be harmful to teens. One of the concerns brought to light recently because of the United States former president is false information or fake news. The worry is that while teenagers browse social media, they will come across fake news that they will believe and maybe even spread to others. Though this is a valid concern, social media platforms are trying to counteract this by taking down posts that are spreading fake news that can convince people to cause harm to others. Social media websites are also posting credible information in the description of posts flagged as containing information about the news, so teenagers are not misled by what they are hearing.
Parents also hold the concern that social media affects how teenagers see and feel about themselves. This worry was formed because studies have shown correlations between social media and opposing views on self-image. Though those studies are valid, other contradictory studies show no correlation between social media and negative views on self-image. This means that, while the concern still holds water, the issue is more complex than most parents think. The complexity of this issue, along with the more significant positive effects social media is providing teenagers during COVID-19, means this concern does not confirm that social media is bad for teenagers.
Although the concerns about teenagers using social media have some validity, they do not outway the benefits social media is doing for teenagers during COVID-19. Not only is social media keeping teenagers talking to other peers, but it can also act as a creative outlet. Although social media does have benefits for when you are stuck at home, it does not work as a substitute for face-to-face interactions. So, going forward, the question has to be asked; once COVID-19 is over, will social interaction revert to normal, or will it stay on social media? Will social media be as beneficial once COVID-19 is over?