The world of social influence: A Teens perspective

 

 

Algorythm, Clickbait, Gen-Zer’s, Social Media, Marketing, Live-Streaming, Voice Search, YouTuber, Blogger….

These terms are a Teens reality and a major part of societal engagement.

 

Hey Guys!

My name is Lauren, Thanks for having me along!

At 17 years old, I’m studying my VCE with a passion for all things media, environmental sustainability, wildlife, music, photography and theatre. Other life interest’s lie within the fields of writing and journalism.

Did you know?…..Gen -Zers (Those aged 22yrs and under) are expected to make up approximately 40% of social platform users by 2020! and that 6 in 10 people use Facebook in Australia? 

I find these stats interesting and have taken up this opportunity to contribute to blogging surrounding topics that relate to young people and have chosen to begin with the influence social media has on the younger generation.

 

The Social Platform

Social Media is a hot topic and the world was forever changed during its emergence in 2003. Despite the level of sophistication we have in social media today, it wasn’t always this way, it was basic, new and exciting opening up doors for people to connect around the world.

 

Lets go back to 2003, where we saw the emergence of MySpace and FaceMash  which were two platforms that catered to the youth of that time, and enabled them to explore both themselves and the internet in a way they never had, and unlike before, connecting socially with people globally.

So why is it that the stigma around social media has become so toxic and negative?

It’s quite a simple answer really; change is often feared.

As much as we deny it, the main reason social media is portrayed in such a negative light is that it was something new. It landed on our doorstep abruptly with new positives, and new negatives. It produced opportunities for social engagement which did not always have a positive outcome!

Young people were provided 24/7 access to events around the world, and we were left questioning the safety of this new era of social connect that came with so many unknowns, therefore, didn’t know how to deal with it.

It has taken a new generation to embrace these changes for society to adapt to a new way of life, a new culture, making its way into the foundations of our everyday lives.

Social Platforms to hit our computers

FaceMash  came first, a social platform designed purely for use within smaller social circles, this was followed in 2004 by Facebook, which targeted a wider age group, rather than college-aged youth.

MySpace, was a service that gave young people a chance for self- expression, being able to put a version of themselves they could control out on the internet, opening new doors for what came next, “YouTube​”, a platform that rose in 2005, Twitter​ in 2006, Tumblr​ in 2007, Instagram​ in 2010, Snapchat​ in 2011, and finally Vine​ in 2013, these are some of the main ones I use.

Within a decade the world had been exposed to one of the biggest changes in society, and our Gen-Zers/Millennial’s were on the front line. These sites all catered to the younger generation providing a platform for them to put themselves out into a world, with an image of their own creation. Teens became the main demographic for these apps simply because they were the most open to their use, and found a way to gain the most out of them.

Whilst some of the older generation saw them at face-value, younger generations took to making the most of this societal boom, gripping the opportunity and resources presented to them, and made something out of what other’s thought was nothing.

 

A little insight into the purpose social media serves me on a daily basis, practically, socially & emotionally

 

Just like everyone’s personality is different, so are our uses for social media.

It can be hard to understand the positives surrounding the purpose of social media use if it is something you are not familiar with or don’t like, which is the same on the other side of the coin, for those that don’t understand what all the fuss is about!?

Often in the media (my favorite subject) teens are portrayed to be a generation glued to their phones and technology, with no real purpose for its use, and this genuinely frustrates us.  It pushes us to rebut, trying desperately to prove that what we are doing on these platforms isn’t always purposeless, and that we do have a reason behind a lot of what we use social media for.

My own use of social media is diverse, I use it for entertainment, research and socialising. My generation is heavily involved with politics, environmental issues, education and current events; We are able to actively be involved with all of this due to the voice social media has given us, and make changes we want to see in our future.

I get involved in current events, I use multiple apps in order to follow the movements and actions of certain environmental groups and companies, I am an ambassador for Sand Cloud a company that makes beachwear, and donates profits towards ocean conservation. Many others do the same by getting involved with things that are important to them and their future.

Does Social Media impact me negatively at school?

This depends on how you prioritise your use and what boundaries you set for yourself.

Social media comes in very handy with some of my school subjects, helping me find related evidence to an array of topics and debates. With a variety of platforms available, they provide me opportunities to navigate the web to determine what is trustworthy vs untrustworthy research; There is a wealth of information on these sites, as well as information that certain media websites censor and leave out of their articles.

I have personally used social media in order to collect data, through polls or having people message me with their own stories and opinions. I have made the most out of such a helpful resource, and believe that everyone should take advantage of such an opportunity.

In saying this, I do use social media as a form of entertainment and socialising, but I take the responsibility of monitoring my use. I use Youtube​ frequently for entertainment, like the majority of users, and watch people who have now become my favourite content creators, either by tailoring my use in accordance with my interests or providing me entertainment and amusement. Other uses I have for Youtube​ are research, tutorials, or as a way to keep up with current social matters happening either on the internet or in the world.

Because of this, I use ​YouTube ​nearly every day, but not as often as I used to.

I reduced my time on ​YouTube ​due to commitments outside of school, as well as the homework that comes with VCE, therefore lowering the amount of time I spend online. I have learnt to prioritise my education over entertainment, but by doing this still leave myself time for relaxing and doing things I enjoy, such as socialising.

Social Connections

Social media is a great tool that helps people to connect with others from around the world, providing people with a chance to belong somewhere. Across the internet, you will find fans of anything, anywhere. Fan bases create communities on multiple social media apps, creating an opportunity for people to connect with those with similar interests and passions, it is an amazing thing that I myself have had the pleasure of experiencing.

I am a part of multiple fan groups where I always feel welcomed and am comfortable to share my opinion with. I have a close friend who lives in America that I have known for just over 4 years, all thanks to a group conversation.

Thanks to social media, I am able to learn more about other peoples cultures, traditions and passions simply by talking to them. Of course, there is always the fear that someone may not be who they say they are, but if you are educated properly from an early age in internet safety, this is something that can easily be avoided. Social media has so many positive uses, so what’s to stop us from taking full advantage of them?

 

“Pro’s and Con’s of Social Media”

PRO’S

  • Opportunities to belong to groups with like-minded people

Social media is a great place to get involved with other people with similar interests and passions, as well as become aware of opposing views. The internet gives people a place to feel safe and belong, socialise with others from all over the world, and become more involved with communities.

Everyone needs somewhere to feel welcomed, and for a lot of people, social media provides just that.

  • Connect with others around the world

As I mentioned earlier, I have a friend from America, but she is only one of many other people I know from so many places. I get to learn about other cultures, how people live in other countries, and the problems they face. This aids me in being a more culturally and socially aware person.

  • Can be used positively for research

Social media/platforms are an amazing resource for information gathering. You can find information that is censored by media outlets, collect your own data and hear opinions and stories from other people. I know from experience what an amazing resource this is, and work with research like this tends to stand out a lot more than something reworded from a news article.

  • To remain connected to life events in real time, and give a voice to those who are not heard.

We are a generation of politically and socially involved youth, who fight for what needs to be changed within our society. Unfortunately, due to being our age we are not often taken seriously, but thanks to social media, we are provided with not only the vital information about world events and current happenings, but we are also given the platform to express our opinions and have our voices actually heard by others. Take Greta Thunberg for instance, a political activist on climate change, a girl from Sweden bringing awareness to the world.

 

  • It provides a platform for us to further our passion and progress in a chosen interest.

Social media provides a platform for anyone to share their talents and interests with the world, it also lets people share their passions. For example, a photography page. It not only allows the photographer to share their work with the world, but also gives them exposure, and makes it easier for employers to view their work.

Con’s

  • Body image negativity

This is a two-sided coin. On one side, social media has given a platform for body positivity models that are all shapes and sizes, but we are still faced with a lot more ‘influencers’ that promote an image that the perfect body is a size 10 and under. This leads to a negative body-image and major self-consciousness.

 

  • Stalking

 Of course with the invention of social media, so came a tool for people with more malicious intentions. Make sure you are safe on the internet, even with people you think you may know really well.

  • Can be a platform for creating panic in society

Things can often be over exaggerated on social media, and unconfirmed rumors can spread like wildfire, creating unnecessary anxiety and panic in the masses. It can tear down someone’s image as quick as it builds it.

  • It’s a distraction

The constant roll of notifications, messages and need to check our social’s can provide a major distraction from important tasks. Whether it be homework, school, driving (Put your phone away when driving!) gatherings, etc, these distractions can take away your focus on the things that really matter.

  • Can reduce face to face interactions

As much as social media can bring us closer, it can also push us further apart. If we don’t take responsibility for our own social media use, our face to face interactions can become more and more limited, and less fulfilling than before.

 

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for managing Social Media use!!

 

  • Set phones to do not disturb mode when trying to study
  • Be mindful of who you follow!!!!! Follow more positively influential people /groups who encourage creativity.  Look for body-positivism models, artists, photographers, performers, designers,etc. Negativism towards others is NOT COOL!
  • Be socially aware of the most appropriate times to be on social media (not during class or having dinner with the family)
  • Think before you post…. Type it up, save in drafts then check to see if it’s appropriate (don’t post in anger)
  • Don’t feel obligated to let people follow you or post things to please others and be up to date with “Cyber Safety”, educate yourself.

 

All these things are just one persons opinion, and I believe that this is a topic that will be debated for years to come.

Opening the door for further discussion on the use of Social Media was my intention

Thanks for having me!

Loz

xx