Parenting forums always seem to be against teens’ social media use. There is an abundance of online articles telling you the dangers of social media, but very few if any, telling you about the benefits.
Social media has come to stay, and like driving on ice, when it seems you are speeding out of control, it is helpful to steer into the skid. Encourage social media use but on your terms.
Ask your teenagers, they will tell you the many reasons they continue to use social media, and those are what makes for healthy adjustment. In an international survey of 15-year-olds, 91% of boys and 92% of girls agreed that it is beneficial to have social media profiles on the internet.
This just goes to show that there are many instances where social media is actually beneficial to young people and many reasons to encourage your teen’s social media use. Some of which are:
1. Friends and Support
It is not news that social media is a vital way to connect with family and friends over long distances, but you may not realise that social media provides excellent support systems for teens and tweens who move to a different location or change schools.
In one research on 1,000 people between the ages of 11 and 25, it was found that social media helped “to foster and sustain relationships”. 62% of the participants also agreed that social media has a positive impact on their relationships with their friends.
Research also shows that online conversations encourage more openness and honesty among young people. Also because online conversations are mostly anonymous, teens have the space and freedom for self-expression which is something they may not be able to do in a face-to-face setting.
2. Creativity and learning
The internet has created a way by which people can get exposure to other cultures, something that was previously impossible without thousands of dollars of travel.
Does your teen want to understand his/her math assignment? Learn a new language or Pick up a new musical instrument? Learn about a particular tribe or to play basketball? Or does he/she want to become a racecar driver? There are literally millions of videos, tutorials, and educative content on youtube. For free.
3. Study Groups
Social media like WhatsApp, facebook, twitter, etc. Allow students of a particular class or school to have group chats exclusive to them where they can pose questions about school assignments and make tutorials on difficult school subjects.
4. Health Advice
Just the other day, I had a cold sore (fever blister). I had never had one until then. All I had to was search “remedies for cold sores”, and I found thousands of simple home recipes to help. Your teen can receive handy medical advice.
Social media also makes it so that at-risk teens who are unlikely to visit the doctor can get quality clinical advice. Social media health movements like cancer awareness, or ‘use a condom’ campaigns teach teens healthy habits they may not have learned previously.
5. Better Mental Health
Sharing their creative projects, such as vlogs, blogs, podcasts, etc., and receiving the support of friends and family, improves the mental health of teens.
Social media also encourages campaigns that empower young people living with disabilities, through educating the public and increase a sense of identity, belonging and community.
Online groups and forums also create a place for teens to speak honestly about their worries and concerns. Teens get to meet people who share similar interests with them. That can help teenagers to develop healthy peer relationships and feel less lonely. Isn’t that something we want for our teens?
Social Media, as with every other thing in life, has to be taken in moderation. In the wise words of sam smith, ‘Too much of a good thing, won’t be good for long’. Anything in excess will become harmful.
So encourage your teenager’s social media use, and talk to them about it, that way you can contain the threats it poses.