Effects of Social Media on the Youth

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Various forms of media, such as the television, radio, newspapers, movies, magazines and most notably, the internet, have impacted heavily on the youth. The media not only serves as a source of information but also provides a source of entertainment. Media sources have relentlessly worked on creating appealing images that entice the youth to their content. Although these may be informative, the youths have been coerced into consuming more time reading or browsing for such information. Recent advancements in computers and mobile phones have led to ease of access of the internet via advanced wireless devices. Whereas this creates a tech-savvy generation, the content provided by some media houses may be uncensored and entails violent acts, obscene scenes and vulgar language. In addition, adolescents have been enticed into spending longer hours with strangers rather than family. This undesirable environment, coupled with the fact that today’s parents are heavily burdened with income generating activities hence find little or no time to talk to their children, has led to high incidences of youth violence and untoward behavior. However, the media content has not been entirely negative. This essay analyzes the impact of various forms of the media on the youth and presents various arguments for and against letting young adolescents spend their time scanning media content.

How has the media changed the lives of adolescents?
First, today’s youths spend less time with their families and spend more time with strangers. Tamar Lewin, in “If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re probably Online” notes that children between the ‘ages 8 and 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day’ using electronic devices (Lewin 1). Five to six years ago, youths spent on average one hour less. In addition, the emergence of advanced electronic media devices has curtailed time spent doing group activities which has been channeled to solitary activities (“Awake”). Brent Staples in “What Adolescents Miss When We Let Them Grow Up in Cyberspace” notes that whereas the traditional media content was largely aired through such mediums as the television, which is watched by a family at the same time, currently, the internet has taken over. Secondly, the youth chat, send e-mails and post their daily encounters and problems on the web. Instead of relating such experiences to their parents, they accept and follow the advice presented by total strangers. This has left teens with ‘nonexistent social skills’ for they are more flexible and aware of the virtual space where they can assume a different personality under a pseudonym, which would otherwise not be possible in the real world (Staples 2). Thirdly, the media has presented various options that aid in circumnavigating life’s hurdles and challenges. As Staple notes, during his childhood, he was presented with situations whereby he had to prove his worth to other people other than his own family members (“Cyberspace”). Adolescents, in today’s world, can easily skip this and opt to send messages or video chat via electronic devices such as mobile phones or the computer. However, this comes at a cost: They develop ‘low-quality relationships in virtual reality’ at the expense of ‘higher-quality relationships in the real world’ (Staples 2). Therefore, these relationships may appear perfect when the teenagers are on a virtual space but are in reality not practical. Finally, the media has given teenagers a platform via which they can gain an identity and prove their worth. Teenagers, and their advice or point of view, are normally disregarded even when their arguments are valid. The internet avails an equal opportunity platform through which they can air their grievances or opinions either under a pseudonym or an incognito handle without being disregarded. However, they have been known to violate the law. For instance, Michael Lewis is a teenager who offered his expertise to the Internet Information Service by posing as a...
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