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Making the very best of social media

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

There’s no denying social media changes the way we interact with each other. You’re able to contact a friend with a few simple clicks. It’s a phenomenon that has gone wild in the last decade. But what effect is this having on the younger generation? How many children will ask for an iPad this Christmas instead of a new toy?

Social media is an active part of any adolescent’s life and may have a significant impact on their development. From our birth, our parents don’t hesitate to slap a picture of us on Facebook, showing off our latest achievements to all their friends.

But not all competition of this kind is healthy. After all, there are so many benefits to using social media. It allows people to express themselves without the restrictions of everyday life. It offers children the chance to learn in new and unconventional ways. Teenage years can be challenging and social media can be a place to turn to for support and advice. Teenagers are able to find a person who feels the same, which destroys the sensation of being isolated in your own thoughts.

However, as with most good things, social media does have its drawbacks. According to a study by Michael Rosen in 2011, teenagers who use Facebook are more likely to be self-absorbed, antisocial and aggressive. Although Facebook offers a platform to express yourself, it also brings to the surface some privacy issues, which so many people simply aren’t aware of. People are also in a position to fall victim to negative comments made by others they choose to interact with. There is also the argument that social media simply destroys our ability to hold a civil, well-communicated conversation in real life. We get so used to being masked by our computer, it becomes a struggle to express ourselves off screen.

Social media can also be used to share news stories from around the world, helping us stay well informed. But by doing this it can open up young and vulnerable people to a world of explicit or violent imagery. I believe strongly it is important to be informed about the news but it is also important to filter through what is appropriate for the younger generation.

Being behind a screen can also give people a false sense of confidence, often leading them to share things they’d never have the courage to say in real life. You would always hope to teach a child how to disagree without jeopardising their relationship with a friend. But what social media teaches them is to disagree with someone with no limits as to what you can say, which can’t be healthy.

So, social media isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Therefore it is vitally important we continue to educate ourselves on the negatives whilst making the most of the positives it has to offer.

-- Niamh Jenkins is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds


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