Research

Teens and Their Use of Social Media

Almost half of the world’s population are connected to the internet through their computers or mobile phones.  In the United States, 86.5% of individuals have access to the internet across all age groups with those belonging to the teenage years having 99% access to the world wide web.   People use the internet for different reasons.  One reason is for connecting with other people.  This is made possible by social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Social media are forms of electronic communication where people can form online communities to connect with each other and share information, ideas, and messages, among others. Users of these online social media networking sites create online profiles and these channels enable them to connect with families and friends.  Social media users can send messages to each other, post their pictures and videos, and share their thoughts and ideas.  However, social media has its advantages and disadvantages.  It can put users at risk but they can also enjoy its benefits depending on their attitudes and how they behave online.

Using online social media networking sites for personal use can have its benefits and risks.  One cannot deny that social media has become part of our teenagers’ daily lives, who use these sites for social connectedness. Researchers showed how students used Facebook to maintain contact with family and friends.  When used properly, social media can enhance human connections.  These social media sites allow a person to express himself and share his feelings through his posts.  However, studies also pointed out the risks in using Facebook and other social media networking sites.  These sites become channels for spreading gossips and feeding ugly rumors.   A more serious threat is the invasion of privacy.  They become vulnerable to hacking, phishing, and harassment.  Thus, there is a need for users to change their attitudes like being vigilant and careful in sharing information in these social networking sites.  These findings are supported by other studies about older teen’s perceptions and behaviors concerning online privacy and their safety attitudes.  Their respondents knew that there was no true privacy online and they felt discomfort in sharing information with those unintended audiences who could have access to all the information you shared online. Despite these perceptions, they still felt the need to share information to get approval from their peers and get a larger social audience.  Indeed, as parents, we should realize that there is a need to teach the younger generation about being responsible and cautious social media users so that they can enjoy its benefits without putting themselves at risk. This is a worthwhile reminder for all of us for our children’s safety while using the internet and social media sites.