Seems like every month there is a new argument about or fear towards the effects of social media, particularly on the youth and teens. The main points that we are being ‘corrupted’, encouraged to become anti-social. Is this really what is happening?
The current generation are the first generation to have lived entirely in the age of the internet. They will be taught with the internet integrated into their lives from the start, from learning their ABCs to 1+1. Gone are the times of waking up at 7am aged 6, mum making breakfast and you running out the door with nothing but a hat and your favourite toy of the week, returning at nightfall.
Today, most 6 year old’s have their heads stuck in an app on their mum or dad’s iPhone. It is evident that children these days spend more time indoors and playing apps or watching TV than when I was 6 years old; and undoubtedly I spent more time watching videos and playing on my Nintendo than my mother did and so on.
It can be linked to the negative effects advances in technology and electronic entertainment has on us, but also to the fact that social patterns and tendencies changes and evolve over time. A child growing up in 1910 can’t be expected to have the same experiences and opportunities to someone in 2010. Our habits, social structure and way of life as well as the medium of entertainment evolve with us as our priorities change.
It can also be deduced that children can be exposed and influenced to harmful and dangerous activities on the internet, and so could they in the real world. Even just watching the news, where murders and kidnappings are almost glorified in broadcasting as their names and faces are plastered across every television in the world. Television and violence in films can be blamed for influencing aggressive behaviour, is it anymore than what we are exposed to in newspapers?
While the social media and internet can be viewed as a risk and expose the vulnerable to things they would not normally see without it, discussions and arguments tend to generally only focus on the negative side effects. But what about the positives?
Does spending more time engaged on the internet actually make us anti-social, or more social? Through the vast advancements in technology since the 1980’s, we can reach out and engage with more audiences than we ever could with the use of social media; which even in its name illustrates its redeeming factor. These specific forms of media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr broaden our horizons as much as travel or reading or education, it purely exists in a different form. Social media doesn’t inhibit our ability to engage with others, it enables it. It can provide support and a sense of connection to someone they might not receive from people in their physical location.
We inherit the fears and concerns of the generation before us, fear of the unknown and its consequences to our way of living. Any disruption to normalcy is viewed as a threat. Its easier to focus on the small percentage of bad than as a big picture. Because overall, social media provides far greater benefits than risks, not just employing millions around the world and connecting us. We are an increasingly interconnected world, the media, simple a conduit that combines us all into one global nation no longer separated by time and space.