Adults Weigh in on the Positive and Negatives of Social Media’s Effects on Our Nation’s Youth

You may have heard a phrase similar to this one: Life was simpler back then. But what does the term, simpler really mean? 

Nowadays, social media has served as a gateway to communicate with friends and family from your own neighborhood as well as individuals living somewhere you probably haven’t even heard of, across the world; but, of course you already knew that. I mean how couldn’t you? All forms of social media have indisputably dominated our lives for over 20 years now. It’s hard to envision a time before apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat took over the internet. Nonetheless, it did exist some time ago.

There was no such thing as popular or trending in the past to the degree that it is now. As stated by the article, “Is Social Media Making Our Kids Grow Up Too Fast?” by Netsanity, “…kids made friends with their peer group that they knew from school, the neighborhood, and other social activities.” In other words, unlike today, the only eyes on you were probably your closest friends and family members. How much simpler could that get?

At this point, I am just restating what you probably already know. So, let’s delve into something different. How much has social media really affected us, especially the younger generations who have and will continue to grow up with it? I thought to myself, “who better to answer this than teachers and parents who didn’t have it as children?” So, that’s what I did!

The first question I asked was, “Do you think social media has made the younger generations grow up faster?” Most said yes for many of the same reasons. One adult answered, “When I was little we only had toys to play with, you know. But nowadays, kids don’t even bother to do that stuff anymore.” She also touched on the concept that children are now following what’s trending which are– in more cases than not– adult-oriented. Another woman stated, “Yes, because of their exposure to the media. You’re much more aware of what’s going on around you.” 

“The 12-14 year olds of yesterday are the 10-12’s today.”

– Bruce Fiend, Vice President of Nickelodeon

In relation to this matter, sources have claimed that children who have access to social media have the ability to see what was perceived as mature content in the past. Additionally, they are able to follow celebrities on applications like Instagram, who post videos and photos demonstrating their uncensored lifestyles. 

The next question I asked was, “Do you think that because of the knowledge social media holds, children are becoming smarter?” In response to this, many people’s answers were understandably divided. One portion asserted that you can find anything you want with the availability of numerous resources, making it easier to make your own judgment. On the other hand, others said that although the upcoming generations have access to more knowledge on particular topics, they do not have much of the experience that allows them to flourish at specific tasks. One person said, “There is no such thing on YouTube that can teach you about the experiences like life does. Experience makes you wiser.” 

“There is no such thing on YouTube that can teach you about the experiences like life does. Experience makes you wiser.”

adult interviewee

The last question I asked was, “Do you think social media does more good than bad or vice versa?” As I predicted, there were various perspectives on this matter. To illustrate, one person stated, “If there was anyone to bully you, it’d be your classmate. But now, people from all over the world can bully you. Someone that you don’t even know can ruin your day.” Although this might hold true for some people, another adult I interviewed had a slightly different viewpoint in regards to the topic of bullying. He said, “For kids who are being bullied at school, social media is allowing them to have friends because they’re able to connect around the world.”

As it turns out, many adults feel that the younger generations are growing up faster as a result of social media. However, a majority of them also sided with the belief that while children and adolescents do have more knowledge about more matters nowadays, they do not know some of the basic skills like reading a map or socializing properly like previous generations did. Does this mean social media is entirely bad though? Doesn’t it allow you to educate yourself on the latest news, communicate with friends and family, etc. I guess it just depends on you to choose what effects of social media-positive or negative- will impact you.