The negative effects of social media on teens and tweens can be obvious for parents and educators, but there are rarely discussions about the positive impact of social media. When teaching children how to build healthy screen time habits, it can be helpful to also understand the advantages of social media. We asked 10 experts to share their opinions about the positive impact of social media on teen and tweens.
In this post, learn how social media provides a platform to showcase technological savvy, can be used to empower students, creates an opportunity for an open dialog, and more.
1. Younger students can feel empowered by teaching older relatives how to use technology
Adam C. Earnheardt, Ph.D., Youngstown State University, @AdamEarn
In meetings with senior citizens, I’ve heard great stories about their grandchildren and social media. What I’ve found is that more teens and tweens are connecting with older family members, not just through social media, but by teaching their grandparents how to set up their accounts to stay connected. It’s a wonderful combination of high tech and high touch for both age groups. Teens/tweens feel self-worth by teaching new technology to those much older and wiser, while the older group feels better connected not only to their grandchildren but to people they may not have communicated with in decades.
2. Social media can be used to create a positive digital footprint and search results
Josh Ochs, SmartSocial.com
Since Google results are the new digital resume, it’s important for students to dominate their online presence. Building a positive digital footprint using social media is a great way for students to shine online, show their unique personality, and have ownership over their search results.
Students can use their social media profiles to highlight their school projects, sports, hobbies, volunteer work, or family vacations.
3. Social media provides parents an opportunity for open communication
Nickia Lowery, Counselor, @OptimumPurpose
Adolescent years are a time when children are attempting to master their identities and finding their place in society. Social media has allowed teens to develop a voice of advocacy. The ability to see who is following who and the reactions from posts reinforces a sense of belonging. This can be a very positive influence when exposed to the right outlets, especially for teens who do not have a large group of friends.
Tips to building a healthy relationship with technology:
- Parents can develop a relationship online with their teens by following their accounts. This will allow for open communication on what they are exposed to and communicating online. Having open communication will assist teens in developing healthy emotional intelligence – a significant part of good decision making as teens grow and mature.
- Encourage teens to engage in positive social platforms and help them identify and set boundaries and expectations online ( ie: not “accepting” friend requests from strangers, think before posting, etc…).
- Help teens understand the purpose of their social media accounts; what they hope to gain from posting certain things or what their accounts are communicating.
4. Social media can help students learn essential job skills
Social media definitely helps teens learn to take criticism from strangers without being drawn into a digital dog fight. This can be a real challenge for young minds looking to express themselves, and a valuable lesson to learn before getting a job.
Wouldn’t it be nice if what happened on social media stayed on social media? Learning to use social media responsibly will build an essential skill for teens that will stay with them for life. Think twice before you post (or speak), and you’ll avoid embarrassing yourself, and possibly hurting others.
5. Social media can lead to more communication
Lyn Hastings, The Powerline Group
I’ve interviewed multiple moms, and despite the negativity that surrounds social media, there were some encouraging stories. One mom said the constant scrolling lead to more communication about current events with her son. Another mom claimed social media allows introverted kids to safely invite friends to “hang” with less fear of rejection than having to pick up the phone. The most common positive impact of social media was that it allowed kids to stay in touch with past and present friends throughout the changes in their lives: school, job, and team changes, hospital stays, studying abroad, etc. Teens have a better chance of staying in touch.
6. Students can use technology to form study groups
Len Saunders, Author, @LenSaunders
Social media can sometimes be beneficial to kids and teens when it comes to information. For example, when group chats occur and kids form study groups online to share information and assist one another. This also comes in handy when kids are absent from school because they can get information from friends who were in school that day. If a lot of notes were given that day, a good friend can simply take a picture of the notes and send it over to the friend who was absent.
Most experts will tell you to limit the time spent on technology for a safer environment. As an educator, I have taught parents not to remove technology completely, but to limit it. In some cases, you can make technology an earned activity.
7. Social media provides a platform to showcase technological savvy and creativity
Dimitris Proko, UK Department for Work and Pensions
Teens today live in a revolutionized smartphone era, in which Wi-Fi and social media have become impeccable survival ingredients. Social media is perceived as a formula to “connect” with others, by either sharing their live moments or even making a lifestyle statement. However, with great social interaction, comes great responsibility.
Some of the benefits of social media are:
- Having a platform to showcase technological savvy and creativity
- Increased self-confidence by empowering introverts to express their ideas
- The ability to create lifelong friends
- Strengthening social awareness and empathy
8. Social media offers students a way to stay in touch with friends if they move
Heidi McBain, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
We recently moved back to the States after living overseas for years. Social media has been a wonderful way for our tween to stay in touch with friends who are living all over the world. While we’ve all been meeting new people and establishing friendships in our new hometown, it was so helpful for her to still feel connected to her friends from our old hometown. I actually think this made leaving a little bit easier because she didn’t have to let these friendships go, which might have been the case in years past.
To help your children build a healthy relationship with screen time, set a time limit. Both of our kids set a timer for an hour a day that they can be online, on social media, etc., after their homework and chores are finished. Also, all electronics are plugged in downstairs, so they wake up with old-fashioned alarm clocks in the morning.
9. Students can leverage social media to promote their civic engagement
Kevin Howley, PhD, DePauw University, @TheKHowley
Young people should leverage their interest in social media to promote learning, creative expression, and civic engagement. Social media connects young people with a world of ideas and a world of possibilities. Students can make productive use of these tools to conduct research, reach out to experts, and ask questions. These tools also permit young people to express themselves, share their work, and get feedback and encouragement. Social media promotes active citizenship.
10. Students can utilize social media to spread social awareness and kindness
Jason Perkins, San Diego SEO and Online Marketing Inc., @SDSEOFirm
Other than the negative side effects of social media on teenagers, there are also good things to look forward to that will shape your kids into entrepreneurs. Here are some of the positive effects of social media on tweens:
- It allows them to spread social awareness and kindness. One of the reasons why teenagers are on social media is so they can search for new information on people, explore new ideas, express themselves the way they want to, and connect with others all over the world. Teens usually use social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. With that being said, social media can be a great platform for them to start campaigning for their rights and the rights of other people.
- Besides communicating with family members and friends, teens also have the opportunity to learn things through social media platforms. Additionally, they can get feedback from the work that they produce, like school projects, art projects, etc. It gives them a safe space to get unsolicited advice from other people, which they can use to eventually better their skills.
- Social media helps students enhance their confidence and creativity. By definition, social media refers to the online services that allow users to connect with one another and share content. These platforms encourage students to exercise their creative skills in terms of engaging with their friends and their general audience. Given that they take up the majority of the users on social media platforms, teenagers create the future of social media.
11. Students can learn new things from social media
Michael Banks, Banks Test Prep
As an SAT/ACT tutor, I am in a unique role that allows me to see parents interact with their teens in an extremely stressful time. Unfortunately, I usually see parents that are extreme in their views towards technology in both directions. Some parents are Instagram-ing everything they do, and their teens are encouraged to be similar. On the other hand, there are some parents who are extremely strict about social media.
I think a moderate approach is best, and the parents with a moderate approach have better-adjusted teens. Teens can have the same benefits as adults who use social media in a moderate manner to network and learn new things. One example is when looking at an SAT reading passage related to the Louvre, a student showed me some pictures on Instagram from when they had visited with their family. Social media was positively impacting their interest.
Students have been told time and time again that social media can have a negative impact on their lives, but they seldom hear about how social media can help them excel. From creating a more dynamic college resume to building communication skills, social media creates plenty of positive opportunities for students. So, instead of focusing solely on the negative impact social media can have, try to highlight the ways your children can use social media for good. Whether your children showcase their charitable activities, help seniors learn technology, or connect with family, you can help them find new ways to shine online. When you follow the steps above and show your children how social media can be used positively, they are less likely to use social media in a negative way.