Youth culture can be defined as the way teens live, the norms and values they share. Youth culture and its workings are very different from the community of adults. The existence of youth culture has seldom been put into question, many are of the belief that youth culture is not a separate culture as the ethics and notions of youth are homogenous with those of their parents. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The generational gap doesn’t only signify the age gap but also the variations in the ways teens and their parents cogitate and discern. The morals, beliefs and standards of teens are influenced by so many external factors, aspects that are in complete contrast to those that govern adults.
How has social media inveigled the youth culture positively?
Social media greatly powers the ideologies, behaviours and patterns of the youth. It’s ignorant to say or believe that social media only feeds the negative side of youth and teens. There are numerous conversant concepts that would have been unknown to teenagers if not for social media.
Connection & Acceptance – Social media is not only a platform to connect but intermittently, it becomes a safe space for youth to freely be themselves, the most genuine and authentic version. No matter who you are, social media is a channel where you can find analogous people, who relate to you and accept you for who you are. The real world can be a scary place if you’re even slightly different from what people consider “normal,” whereas the virtual social world can be very warm, affable and accepting, especially for LGBTQ youth.
Through social media, not only do the LGBTQ teens find a home in society, but social media is also a great medium for people outside of this community to unearth information about the LGBTQ teens and come together to accept and embrace them beyond the virtual world as well. Social media can educate other teens about the constant battles that the LGBTQ community faces on a regular basis and about all the ways we can ease those challenges for them. Social media is not the only place to build communities, Emissary is also one such mass media platform, read these blogs to know more – The Importance of a Community for Teen Empowerment and The Emissary: A Space for Teen Empowerment
Positive role models – It’s easy for teens to get influenced, but it’s also very easy for them to be galvanised, motivated and invigorated. Social media plays that role in a teen’s life. Witnessing their peers do inspiring and uplifting things motivates the teens to do the same. Social media is filled with stories of underdogs rising above all, teens relate to that more than anything, these stories make good, captivating idols for them to follow.
Identity Development – Social media helps teens outline fields of vision and schools of thought regarding a certain idea or incident, and that’s not essentially a bad thing. Social media is a bombardment of different perceptions, and being able to choose what you stand for after paying heed to all types of viewpoints can help develop character and identity for teens with developing brains. Not getting swayed by the variations of these notions can show real signs of maturity in teens.
Knowledge & Reach – There are some concepts which are too much of a taboo for parents or teachers to openly vocalise them to teens. Menstruation, discovering one’s sexuality, sex education, and politics are some such topics that teens get to learn about from social media far better than from schools. Social media educates and makes them aware of notions that are prevalent yet considered inappropriate. Social media helps teens reach and comprehend these theories so they can form their own opinions.
Finding the voice – The best way to find your voice is by listening to a lot of others. Teens are not encouraged to listen to their hearts because they are thought to be immature and emotional, but social media allows them to express their feelings. This could very well go either way but the chances of finding your voice and identity in the plethora of viewpoints can be really enlightening for one’s personality. Apart from social media, here are Ten Ways to help Your Teen develop Self-Esteem and Confidence.
A gateway to creativity – Social media is the ideal platform for teens to express their creativity without fear of being judged in front of a completely neutral audience that is always willing to share their honest feedback. There are other ways to engage a teenage mind as well, read this to know more – Seven Strategies for Properly Engaging the Teenage Brain
What are some of the negative effects of social media on youth culture that cannot be disregarded?
Pop Culture – The pop culture presented on the internet has everything to do with youth perceptions and attitudes. The word “trending” has itself become trending on social media because of all the things that keep trending every other day. These trends don’t take into account whether it’s appropriate for teens to follow them, let alone look at them. Teens and trends go hand in hand. Trends, a lot of times, define how a teen reacts, and most of the time these trends are tasteless for a developing teen.
Antisocial – Social media provides a platform for teens to interact and share opinions online. Teens get so used to participating in conversations online that it ends up making them antisocial. They find it cumbersome to hold discussions or communicate in real life because of all the lengthy conversations they get involved in online.
Physical and Mental Health Problems – Social media has become a major cause of a myriad of health problems in teens. Depression, anxiety, various types of communication and personality problems are brought forth in teens due to social media. Sleep deprivation and eye problems are some of the physical health issues that also come into play owing to the social media usage of teens. As parents, you should never stop asking the question : Why are our teenagers more stressed than ever before, and what can we do to help them?
Addiction – Being online on social media all the time and, when not, thinking about it, covers a serious addiction in teens. Moods being governed by the number of likes, shares and followers all points out to the earnestness of the addiction at bay.
Cyberbullying & Trolling – With a voice, teens also get a lot of opinions and almost no accountability. Social media can be an extremely hurtful place for teens when they’re bullied based on how they look, act or conduct themselves by other teens. Cyberbullying can have such life-threatening impacts on impressionable teens, coming back from that can prove to be impossible sometimes.
Where does the solution lie when it comes to social media and youth culture?
The key lies in monitoring the social media accounts of teens. Sitting them down and actually explaining to them how words, whether written or spoken, have the power to destroy people, especially teens who already question everything they do all the time. Social media can sometimes feel like a space where bringing peers down becomes entertaining, but the people being subjected to it may not feel the same. It’s very important to stand for the right thing and always be kind with our words and thoughts.