“There's plenty of times I've heard older adults argue that relationships forged through platforms like Instagram and Google chat don't qualify as “real” social connections. But, in fact, there is solid evidence that social media networking can have positive benefits for young people.”
“Kids these days”, this is a phrase that youths have been familiarised with for decades now as they forge their way through the modern world. Today the catch phrase is often directed to youths use of social networking sites. There have been arguments that the platforms created by social media chats do not qualify as real social connections. But in fact, there is solid evidence that social media has positive benefits and effects on youth too. A narrative review published in 2014, looked at the effects of online communication on the mental health of young people. It included 43 studies published from 2003 to 2013. The body of evidence presented varied outcomes. Using social media increased youth's exposure to harm, and sometimes contributed to social isolation, depression, and cyber bullying. But researchers found it could also help to boost self-esteem among youth and it offers a safe place to test identities and opportunities and to share personal details about their lives. Similarly, a 2009 review found the good and the downsides to social media use among youth. In this article, researchers found that earlier studies painted an adverse picture. But more up-to-date data discovered the opposite. As the authors put it: “most recent Internet studies have demonstrated that adolescents’ online communication stimulates, rather than reduces, social connectedness or well-being.” In fact, reviews show that over 80 percent of adolescents use these technologies mainly for interacting with their current friends. The reviews show the positive effects of social networking are found for youths who use the internet to uphold associations with current friends, and not for those who use it largely to make new associates or relate with aliens. The take home message is that, like everything else, social media can have both positive and negative effects on youth mental health. Using the internet to maintain and even deepen relationships can enhance adolescent well-being. But it's important for parents to keep an eye out for isolation, depression and cyber-bullying.