April 5, 2018

Discover the ways social media can be a force for good in the lives of kids and teens, and help them maximize the benefits.

From sexting to cyberbullying to FOMO, social media sure has its share of negatives.

But, if it’s all bad, how did 2,000 students protest their school system’s budget cuts? How are teens leading the charge against cyberbullying? How did they organize a national school walkout day to protest gun laws?

Easy: savvy use of social media. For a few years now, many teens have been saying that social media — despite its flaws — is mostly positive. And new research is shedding light on the good things that can happen when kids connect, share, and learn online.

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As kids begin to use tools such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and even YouTube in earnest, they’re learning the responsibility that comes with the power to broadcast to the world.

You can help nurture the positive aspects by accepting how important social media is for kids and helping them find ways for it to add real value to their lives.


Read more: 5 Myths and Truths About Kids’ Internet Safety

How Teens View Their Digital Lives


 

Here are some of the benefits of your kid being social media-savvy:

  1. It lets them do good. Twitter, Facebook, and other large social networks expose kids to important issues and people from all over the world. Kids realize they have a voice they didn’t have before and are doing everything from crowdfunding social justice projects to anonymously tweeting positive thoughts.
  2. It strengthens friendships. Studies, including Common Sense Media’s Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives and the Pew Research Center’s Teens, Technology and Friendships show that social media helps teens make friends and keep them.
  3. It can offer a sense of belonging. While heavy social media use can isolate kids, a study conducted by Griffith University and the University of Queensland in Australia found that although American teens have fewer friends than their historical counterparts, they are less lonely than teens in past decades. They report feeling less isolated and have actually become more socially adept, partly due to an increase in technology use.
  4. It provides genuine support. Online acceptance — whether a kid is interested in an unusual subject that isn’t considered “cool” or is grappling with sexual identity — can validate a marginalized kid. Suicidal teens can even get immediate access to quality support online. One example occurred on a Minecraft forum on Reddit when an entire online community used voice-conferencing software to talk a teen out of his decision to commit suicide.
  5. It helps them express themselves. The popularity of fan fiction (original stories based on existing material that people write and upload online) proves how strong the desire for self-expression is. Both producers and performers can satisfy this need through social media. Digital technology allows kids to share their work with a wider audience and even collaborate with far-flung partners (an essential 21st-century skill). If they’re really serious, social media can provide essential feedback for kids to hone their craft.

This post originally appeared on Common Sense Media and has been shared with full permission.

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Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out the ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.

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  • What your child sees as positive some adults may not agree with.

    Reply


  • I love the part of the article that talks about children more aware of their rights and what they can actually do to improve the world. Used in the correct way, social media can be very empowering. Think about all the petitions that are signed online. And the crowdfunding indeed. Being able to help people in need in such an easy and convenient way.
    I also love the last point about presenting their work to the “world”. If you interact with people with your same interests, you can find so much feedback that will help you improve yourself.

    Reply


  • I agree that social media has it’s positive and negative sides.

    Reply


  • I’m not a fan of social media for children regardless of what it can and can’t teach them.

    Reply


  • When its good its very very good and when its bad its horrid?

    Reply


  • There’s good and bad in every situation. As long as children take the good aspects of social media and are cautious and aware of the bad, then I suppose it’s all fine.

    Reply

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