Online social media have gained astounding worldwide growth and popularity which has led to attracting attention from variety of researchers globally. Although with time all generations have come to embrace the changes social network has brought about, teenagers and young adults are the most fanatic users of these sites. According to various research studies in the field of online social networks, it has been revealed that these sites are impacting the lives of the youth greatly. When using these sites such as Twitter, Facebook or MySpace, there are both positive and negative effects on the youth.
It is inevitable to ignore the fact that nowadays social network plays an essential role in teenagers’ lives. Most youths are spending at least an hour in these popular social media sites. Generally, 1 out of 7 minutes which are spent online by most of those who can access internet is spent on Facebook and WhatsApp. One may ask how spending all that time on the social media sites may have a positive impact on them. Well, social media helps the youth and any other user updated with what is happening around the world, help the teenagers stay connected and interact with each other even if they are many miles apart. This strengthens their relationship even if they finished school and moved to different locations they stay connected and update one another.
In addition, social media sites have provided a platform whereby the youth can create groups and pages based on their common discipline and end up building connections and opportunities for their respective careers by updating various topics to discuss. Youth who have been interviewed they say that social media has become their lifestyle and it makes their lives easier and efficient.
While on one hand social network sites seems to bring people together and connected on the other hand it creates social isolation in regard to BBC News report. As the youth tend to spend many hours on these sites, they rarely have face-to-face interaction. According various studies, scientists’ evaluation determined that social isolation can lead to a lost of emotional, psychological, physical and mental problems which include anxiety, depression and somatic complaints among many others.
Other negative effects of social networking various people suggested included encouraging poor spelling and grammar, exposing underage to online predators, allowing spread of misinformation that is perceived as fact, decreasing productivity as those who are supposed to be working spend time in the sites to chat, provide a perfect platform for cyber bullying and providing details that increase risks of identity theft.
Social networking clearly portrays both positive and negative effects on the youth. It is decision of an individual to make whether to continue using the sites or not. The users mostly face problems such as unwanted messages, unwanted friends request and controversial political links and unethical pictures and links, irrelevant religious and anti-religious messages and useless information. The negative images, messages, video links, voice messages are creating negative influence in the society and social groups at the minor level to penetrate to destabilize the inter-state harmony in the international relations.
Dr Theoneste SIKUBWABO