Do you know the impact of social media on students?
With school resuming, as parents, you may have a decision to make: Do you let your children continue to use social media?
Do you need to worry about your child? “Students” is a broad term. What ages does this post discuss?
Consider this statistic: Half of all Instagram users are millennials (Source). This statistic is daunting when you consider Instagram has one billion users.
Whether your child is a millennial, or someone in Generation Z born in 1995 or later (Source), you need to know the impact of social media on students if your child is a student. This post is for you.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know both the positives and the negatives when it comes to the impact of social media on your children.
This guide presents 6 advantages and 8 disadvantages of social media.
Make sure you stay until the end of the post where I post solutions to the negative impact of social media on students.
You’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether you want to let your teens use social media, not let them use social media, or micro-manage their social media accounts.
I have been a middle school teacher for decades. As a teacher and blogger, the advantages and disadvantages of social media on students I share here are based on both experience and research.
Let’s start learning the impact of social media on students.
Positive Impact of Social Media on Students
Social media makes students more well-rounded
When you use social media, you are exposed to people from different cultures and walks of life.
For example, my friend Lorna, who lives in the UK, is wheelchair-bound.
Lorna runs a Facebook group. I never would have had the opportunity to know Lorna if she were not on social media and running a blog for the disabled.
Social media boosts students’ technical skills
When my yearbook class advertises our yearbook, we use social media. We have a Yearbook Business Page on Facebook we use for marketing and promotion.
I have a colleague who posts his homework in an Instagram group.
Teachers incorporate social media into their curriculum. Therefore, starting at a young age, children develop technical prowess.
Social media is educational
Social media helps students with creativity and graphic design.
As a teacher, I plan on using Pinterest and Instagram to help teach yearbook design.
Research supports a positive impact of social media on students:
According to the Student Job blog,
“Research has shown that students who are frequent users of social media are more innovative and exhibit better memory. It opens up new avenues for researching, encouraging students to get creative and think outside the box.”
Social media prevents loneliness
During the Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place, students can’t go to school to see their friends. Knowing they can still see them on social media sites helps prevent a feeling of isolation.
Social media aids self-expression
Many students fall through the cracks. They feel there will be repercussions if they try to express themselves to adults. However, many teens feel comfortable expressing themselves on social media.
Social media is fun
Have you been on Instagram lately?
Instagram offers many advantages such as entertainment.
Part of the success of Instagram Stories lies in the interactive nature of its stickers.
Instagram offers interactive polls, quizzes, and sliders. If people ask a question, they are likely to generate a response.
It only takes people a second to click a button or move a slider. Then, they see how others answered.
Instagram just started Reels, similar to TikTok, that involves entertaining music and short videos.
On Instagram, people pose Challenges to each other, and they respond with pictures.
Also, part of Facebook’s appeal lies in its entertainment value.
For instance, Facebook has interactive quizzes that are entertaining. For example, Facebook has quizzes such as the Word of the Year. My friend just posted the results of a Facebook quiz showing what kind of a dog she’d be.
Next, Facebook has engaging video games. Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, and Words with Friends are popular Facebook games.
Clearly, the impact of social media is positive. However, there are also downsides to students using social media.
Are you ready to learn the negative impact of social media on students?
Negative Impact of Social Media on Students
Social media hurts immature students
Not all students develop the maturity needed for social media at the same rates.
In fact, students use social media to bully each other.
I work at a middle school. Students regularly complain to the dean they were bullied. When the dean asks for witnesses, the students complain the bullying went on at a social media site.
Students who like attention will use social media to perpetuate drama.
Social media hurts students who can’t analyze
Students may not have the ability to draw conclusions about appropriate and inappropriate content.
For instance, by Mark Zuckerberg’s own admission, he left inappropriate content on Facebook. He explained he believed it was the responsibility of the user to decide what was inappropriate and what wasn’t inappropriate.
Parler, a social media site, is based around the concept of free speech, and is full of hate content. For instance, Parler is known for hatred toward Jewish people.
Related: More information on Parler can be found in this Think Balm article about obscure social media sites.
Students who are still maturing both intellectually and emotionally may not have the grounding to know this content should be rejected and not consumed.
In fact, Reddit just took down approximately 200 popular subReddits containing inappropriate content.
Social media hurts students’ productivity
Social media drains time.
Are you an iPhone user? When the iPhone tells you your screen time for the previous week, do you read the report?
I heard just recently of people reporting spending hours on Instagram.
School is resuming either online or in person. For students attending school online, the habit of being on social media will be hard to break when homework calls.
Social media hurts students financially
Have you heard of Steam? Steam is a form of Cryptocurrency.
Steemit is a social media site. In fact, the Steemit culture evolved around the desire to earn Steem, but the value of the cryptocurrency is dependent on the market over which students have no control.
Steam game card buying, selling, trading, and steam investing are just a few of the expenses involved.
Students join Discord groups in hopes of helping other members generate this cryptocurrency.
Social media hurts students physically
Sadly, criminals manipulate young people into doing what they want them to do.
Teens are so trusting, they willingly give their address to strangers that seem nice online. In addition, they might agree to meet at a designated location when parents believe their teens are with friends.
Also, horror stories of teens disgruntled with their parents being recruited by terrorist groups come flashing back to mind. Criminals make dates online to meet young people who are too trusting to know the strangers online aren’t what they seem.
Social media sites can’t regulate content safe for children.
Facebook tried to have a Facebook Messenger for children, but there were technical glitches. The measures in place requiring parent approval of children’s contacts didn’t work.
In addition, spending too much time hunched over a computer can lead to poor posture, back pain, and shoulder pain. Too much screen time can lead to vision problems.
Social media hurts students emotionally
Are you aware Instagram started banning likes in various countries? In the United States, I see likes on my Instagram content, but I heard an interview with a Canadian who reported she hasn’t seen likes on her posts in a year.
The young people you find on Instagram take a lack of likes personally, not just that there is something wrong with their content, but there is something wrong with them.
The rejection young people feel on social media isn’t limited to a “like” count.
Students don’t understand why people unfollow them. On Instagram, a popular social media site, you can only follow 7500 people. Therefore unfollows are quite common. They aren’t personal, but young people still developing a sense of self can’t help but take an unfollow as a personal rejection.
Teens also experience jealousy that comes from seeing greater like counts on other people’s content.
The negative impact of social media on students is so great, Instagram has changed its practice as a result.
Companies fear the next generation isn’t learning socialization skills. In today’s Digital Age, children are growing up with technical skills, but not the ability to socialize.
When I was little, students talked on the phone and saw each other after school. Today, people spend their free time on computers.
Social media hurts family relationships.
I once saw a cartoon in which a father asked his son to be his Facebook friend. The son refused. The father drew the conclusion that they weren’t friends. The video was meant to be funny, but it was clear the father was wounded.
On an episode of 90 Day Fiancé, a mother discovered her son was engaged to be married on social media, and a rift developed between them since she was hurt he didn’t tell her personally.
Wrapping Up: The Impact of Social Media on Students
In closing, as adults, we have the ability to process information that young people may not yet have.
If students are going to use social media, they need to understand activity on social media sites has inherent dangers.
Clearly, the impact of social media on students is both positive and negative.
Despite the advantages of using social media sites, these facts are important to remember:
Young people may also not have the maturity to handle the rejection they perceive they are experiencing on social media sites.
Young people may not have the life experience to understand the content they read may not always be good for them even if it’s on a website.
I tried not to generalize in this post. Instead, I used phrases like “may not have” since I realize everyone matures at different rates.
What is your opinion? Do you believe the impact of social media on students is mostly positive or negative?
Readers, please share. With school just getting underway, parents should know the impact of social media on students can be harmful.
Janice Wald is the founder of MostlyBlogging.com. She is an ebook author, blogger, blogging coach, blogging judge, freelance writer, and speaker. She was nominated as the 2019 Best Internet Marketer by the Infinity Blog Awards and in 2017 as the Most Informative Blogger by the London Bloggers Bash. She’s been featured on Small Business Trends, the Huffington Post, and Lifehack.