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The Influence of Social Media on Youth


These days, media channels are becoming more diverse and innovative. Information and communication technologies and their discoveries provide the media environment intensification. Digital developments are nearly correlated with global and societal changes displayed through the update of social values and interpersonal communication models. These trends are more evident among youth as this social group is the most mobile and responsive to almost all aspects of progress. The media culture of a young person remains remarkably crucial in this process.

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The question of how social media impacts youth remains debatable. The book called “Youth and Media: Current Perspectives on Media Use and Effects” examines the effects of the Internet on young people’s socialization: both positive and negative (Baumgartner et al.). The young user faces a massive stream of various information on the Internet. This is partially deposited in the mind and can influence the formation of young people’s attitudes to different aspects of life, their worldview, and the ability to socialize.

Positive Effects

First of all, social media affects the mental health of a young person positively. Social media facilitates horizontal connections between people and are used to spread information. According to Baumgartner et al. (45), the media, especially the Internet, provides social support for teenagers, decreasing loneliness and isolation, and helping build new friendships online. The Internet has connected different societies and their cultures in everyday communication and is now creating social relationships on the network (Baumgartner et al. 56). The book’s authors provide various examples of how social media allows for uniting people with similar views. For instance, Baumgartner et al. (56) claim that young people tend to join communities because of the expectation of reciprocity, respect, and a feeling of effectiveness. Users also perceive the online group of interest as a place to interact with its other members. If it is appropriately structured, a community can also be a “safe” place to express ideas (Baumgartner et al. 56). Since young people feel more comfortable and relaxed online than in real life, they can have opinions on various topics without fear of being judged and compared, which contributes to a person’s well-being and mental health.

Secondly, communication on social networks allows the youth to master and maintain relationships with friends and relatives. For example, Baumgartner et al. (87) note that sharing photos on social media enhances family relationships. Online friendship increases the social capital and circle of acquaintances (Baumgartner et al. 87). Its increase leads to an awareness of one’s own needs and significance (Baumgartner et al. 88). The positive effect of the Internet’s influence on young people’s socialization is meaningful. People have new online platforms and chances for interaction and information exchange, facilitating, and accelerating socialization.

Negative Outcomes

Despite some positive sides, several adverse outcomes caused by imbalanced social media usage are presented in the book. For instance, Baumgartner et al. (130) emphasize that young people with insufficient interpersonal experience who have difficulties in live communication perceive the network as more convenient. Consequently, overuse of the Internet can be addictive, leading to depression. Baumgartner et al. (132) observed that young people’s addiction to social networking online leads to using the Internet in more intrusive ways. Therefore, the book reveals not only beneficial factors of social media usage but also states that in case teenagers have poor communication skills offline, they are likely to prioritize online conversations. It may provoke communication anxiety, while the latter stimulates obsessive network use.

Moreover, people who spend much time on social media tend to consider online communication convenient but restrained in communicative effectiveness. It appears due to the lack of various non-verbal cues available in real interaction (Baumgartner et al. 135). According to Baumgartner et al. (136), anxiety resulting from live interaction motivates an obsessive request to communicate safely online, while successful communication attempts increase the amount of time spent on the Internet.

Additional Benefit

Nevertheless, the book’s compilers suggest that social media enables online learning for those who pursue self-education. According to Baumgartner et al. (60), the possibility of acquiring knowledge and information online affects young people’s socialization, breaking down geographic barriers between people and empowering them to receive information regardless of location. Plunging into a topic of interest, teenagers try to achieve recognition for their expertise. Some researchers call this phenomenon “geek learning” (Baumgartner et al. 97). According to Baumgartner et al. (102), the active use of social networks for communication increases students’ average scores, especially in senior years. Therefore, for numerous adolescents, social networking is an essential motive for self-development.

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The Internet, especially media, is integral to the daily life of all people. Society should not categorically affirm that social media causes only benefit or only adverse outcomes. The book “Youth and Media: Current Perspectives on Media Use and Effects” focuses on the fact that social networks’ influence on youth is diverse and ambiguous. The impact on a particular individual depends on their subjective qualities. For example, communication through the Internet can be harmful as it leads to social anxiety and a lack of real-life communication. Simultaneously, this can help those who intend to find new friends and express their thoughts clearly. People should stay conscious about the use of social networks to be able to get the maximum benefit and minimum negative consequences. The Internet has advantages and disadvantages concerning the human mind, largely shaping its position and worldview, and affecting people’s ability to socialize.

Work Cited

Baumgartner, Susanne E., et al., editors. Youth and Media: Current Perspectives on Media Use and Effects. Nomos Verlag, 2018.

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