Social Media Influence
Social media has a significant influence on young people’s behaviour. Indeed, recent generations have grown up in the digital age. They’ve had access to electronics from a very young age. Everything that happens on social media, on the “web,” is virtual and sometimes, for some, the line between reality and fiction is very fine.
Social media—what is it?
They are platforms on which one can create a personal account, through which one can post and share various content with a community, their friends. It can be pictures, one’s mood of the moment, videos, or one’s location.
The best-known social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and Linkedin.
Social media influence is the capacity of provoking a reaction or to change a behaviour. But behind an embellished reality can hide a double-edged sword.
Causes of Social Media Influence on the Behaviour of Young People
With new technology, children start typing away on a keyboard or a screen from a very early age.
- 24%: is the percentage of 4th and 5th grade elementary school students who have a smart phone in Canada in 2015
- 26%: is the percentage of 6th grade elementary school students who sleep with their smart phones in Canada in 2015.
- 33%: is the percentage of 4th and 5th grade elementary school students who have a Facebook account in Canada in 2015.
Source (in French)
Why are children starting earlier? Because if their friends are on the apps, they have to be there as well. They have to be up to date with what goes on after school. This influence can come from the family side as well. Indeed, parents can themselves be present on social media, as well as older brothers and sisters.
The Consequences of this Virtual Life
The consequences of social media on children can be harmful on their psychological and physical health.
Not everything that happens on social media is peachy. This embellished reality hides another less charming one.
Indeed, behind all the glamour, the vacation pictures, the retouched selfies that give that “wow” factor, the reality is not what it seems. Social media is like a real race between the number of likes and followers. Younger people and teenagers are capable of going to great lengths in order to get as many as possible.
According to a study by Common Sense Media, ages 13–17 can’t imagine living without their phones, even if they’ve been victims of hate speech.
"I never really wish to not have a phone, because it brings me a lot of things I cherish."
An anonymous teenager met through the Common Sense Media Study (translated from French)
Such as with the pressure to succeed, social media influence can affect physical and mental health. In order to become like everyone else, to always be on top, some people can put themselves in danger. This is particularly the case with the different challenges that have popped up on social media, especially on Instagram. Indeed, these challenges can consist of showing off young girls’ thinness, playing with fire, pouring boiling water on themselves and showing off the burns… A challenge that has been talked a lot about is the Momo Challenge. This evil doll gives out gruesome challenges to children on WhatsApp. All these actions done on these platforms can have heavy consequences.
Consequences to keep an eye on:
- Source of intimidation and personal attacks
- Low self-confidence
- Impact on sleep
- Suicidal tendencies (in extreme cases)
LOVE supports youth to thrive through programs and healthy relationships that build emotional intelligence and help overcome the challenges they face. Our participants emerge from LOVE’s programs with greater resilience, heightened skills, and the confidence to be inspirational leaders.