Although enhancing at a stunning pace, digital social media is having an impact on young women immensely.
We know our young women are picking up new social and cognitive skills at a rocketing speed, and we don’t want them to spend hours glued to an iPad impeding that. But adolescence is an equally crucial period of rapid development, and too few of us are paying attention to how our young girls are using technology.
A lot of us as parents appreciate the importance of social networking sites in our daughters’ lives. But how many thoughts we spare to consider both the positive and negative aspects of social media that are gaining on them?
Let WomenMinds help you see some of the good and bad aspects of digital social media on your young girls. You can even suggest that she go through this piece to learn what to take from digital social media platforms based on their perks and downsides.
6 Perks of Digital Social Media
1. Social Media Can Strengthen Friendship
There’s no doubt that friendships are a key component in youth. When kids have healthy friendships, they feel accepted for who they are and feel more empowered and connected to the world around them.
Friends also can introduce truths and facts into their lives while encouraging them to chase their dreams.
Furthermore, research has shown that having at least one solid friendship can go a long way in preventing bullying. And social media allows you to make a bunch of friends both for real and social lives.
More than half of young women believe that social media helps to build their friendships.
According to a Common Sense Media survey, 52% of young people feel that social media has improved their friendships, and only 4% feel otherwise.
2. Social Media Can Be a Platform for Good Causes
Whether young women invest their time into fundraising or supporting an important cause, social media can impact their communities.
Some social movements had started when teens leveraged social media to spread awareness about an issue. Whether they create YouTube videos or run Twitter campaigns, young people impact the world around them because of social media’s outreach.
Social media also exposes young women to various important issues worldwide, not just those that are part of their communities. Consequently, they realize that social media can work as an important platform to support people and causes even from far away.
They can instantaneously impact things like hunger in Africa, preserving the rainforest, providing educational tools for kids without resources, and many more with the voice of digital social media.
3. Social Media Replaces Isolation
While social media turns adults lonelier, researchers find the opposite might be true for the young generation.
A study in 2015 found that even though young people have fewer friends than they did a decade ago, they find them less lonely and isolated due to social media and technology.
As young women find their niche, they become more individualistic and extroverted, leading to higher self-esteem.
This increased sense of belongingness makes teens more secure in existing friendships and reduces feelings of loneliness overall. This is especially true if the friendships are healthy.
This research also suggests that young women are developing stronger social skills due to extensive social media usage. As technology takes over a bigger part of everyday life, online communication skills grow stronger, helping them become sound communicators in a rapid digital world.
4. Social Media Can Bring Authentic Support
Years ago, when young women were interested in a quirky subject or were grappling with who they were as individuals, they often felt clueless and alone.
Today, however, they can connect with others who share similar interests, dreams, and endeavors. This connection helps them feel accepted, validated, and secured in the identity they preserve.
Another way young minds are finding support is through online communities. For instance, youths who struggle with drug addiction and eating disorders can now connect online for support without ever having to leave their homes.
This is especially helpful for those who are part of minor communities or rural areas where resources may be limited.
Furthermore, suicidal young girls can get immediate moral support online. For example, a Reddit Minecraft community talked and helped a teen out of his suicidal attempt.
Besides posting positive comments and messages, 50 or more users used voice conferencing to persuade him not to end up like this. This shows how social media and technology can be beneficial for young women in some extreme cases.
Online spaces are now social spaces, and social networking services offer similar opportunities to offline social spaces. As a result, young women can build independence and develop the skills they need to recognize and manage risk, learn to judge and evaluate situations, and deal effectively with a dangerous or hostile world.
However, such skills can’t be developed in isolation and are more likely to establish if supported. Attempting a social networking service for the first time as a young woman alone is like a young person’s first solo trip to a city.
Thus, digital social networking sites provide authentic support to young women by telling them how to cope in such a new environment.
5. Social Media Can Work As a Display Stage
Your young girls can use social media to develop an online presence that can draw colleges and future employers’ attention. For instance, some can make YouTube videos or write blog posts on topics they are passionate about.
A young woman passionate about reading and writing can also publish book reviews or film videos with her thoughts, ideas, and comments on social networking sites.
As their work gains traction online, these young women may develop a fan-following that could include authors, literary agents, and publishers.
When these young women apply for college admissions or job interviews, they can refer to their social media accounts on the application forms or their portfolio. Thus, it demonstrates their creativity and maturity while at the same time showing their entrepreneurship quality.
Building a viable platform on social media can open many doors for young women and help them establish an online reputation. It also can let them access college scholarships, college networks, and even a future career.
And it can change their perspectives on social media. It’s no longer just a place to post silly pictures or observe digital drama. It can be used as a stage where they can channel their passions to showcase potential and eventually find a career path.
6. Social Media Is a Tool for Information Gathering
No one can ignore that social media has become a sea of information and news for many young people, including women. Once they begin networking on digital social media platforms, they can follow just about anyone with a social media account.
From authors and athletes to celebrities, chefs, nonprofit organizations, and magazines, they’re connected to all sorts of information.
Young women also can gather information about issues that impact them or their friends. For instance, if they are concerned about a friend having an eating disorder or a drug addiction, they can gather information about it and do something to address the issue.
If young girls are interested in certain books, bands, recipes, or ideas, their interest will likely be catered for by a social networking service or a group within a service.
Therefore, social networking services can help introduce young women to new things and ideas and deepen appreciation for existing interests. They can also help broaden users’ horizons by helping them discover how other people live and think in all parts of the world.
11 Downsides of Digital Social Media
1. Facebook and Instagram Can Steer Depression
Facebook and Instagram have been associated with a higher rate of depressive symptoms and suicidal attempts in young women. When teenagers feel inferior to their social media buddies, they often fall into a mental state called Facebook or Instagram depression.
A study showed a 33% jump in the depressive symptoms of Facebook and Instagram users within the time frame of 2010-2015. The same study says that the suicidal attempt in teens and adolescents increased by 65%.
The urge to stand out, fit in, or be accepted by their Facebook friends drives users towards this form of emotional disturbance.
2. Anxiety Can Become Your Shadow
Young women get more curious about knowing what other people on their social networking sites are doing rather than spending time with themselves. Those who spend significant time on social media become victims of depression and anxiety because of constantly being a part of virtual life.
That’s why it adversely affects their thought process and mood, causing severe depression and anxiety attacks.
3. You May Unknowingly Attract Some Stalkers
Smartphones are connecting people. If you keep sharing your location, then social media friends know where you are.
Young girls are used to updating their status, sharing what they’re watching, listening to, reading, and even their locations.
This habit not only leads to addiction but turns them hyperactive. They always scroll up and down their mobile screens for new updates from their friends. They check and respond to every notification and alert because they believe responding on time is necessary.
Besides, a dangerous side of constantly updating your location is that it may lead you to be stalked by strangers.
Such a constant need for connections can produce anxiety and lead to depression.
4. Conveys Inauthentic Expression or Feelings
Today, social media conversations are filled with “haha,” “LOL,” and so many other exclamations meant to represent laughter. This shorthand use of language has become so common that senders send it even when they aren’t smiling, much less laughing, in real life.
On the occasion that our “roflcopter” is commonly used at a funny moment, we’re replacing the real laughter with, in this case, a simple ten-letter acronym.
You can easily observe how we young women are replacing fake emoticons with our genuine feelings using social media and technology.
An evolutionary psychologist at Oxford, Robin Dunbar, said, “The actual physical act of laughter, and not the abstract idea of something being funny, is what makes laughing feel so good.”
“If we are so willing to replace the act that, honestly, we all love, with an artificial, typed representation that doesn’t even bring the same joy, what else would we be, potentially subconsciously, willing to exchange?” added Dunbar.
5. Cyberbullying Is Prevailing among Young Generation
Cyberbullying uses social media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information to specific users. Reports say that most victims of cyberbullying are young women around the world.
Among the major adverse effects of social media, cyberbullying is an evil that has become such an atypical today. Prolonged cyberbullying victims often end up with psychosocial problems like depression, isolation, loneliness, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, and some even become suicidal.
6. Endless Screen-time Leads to Sleep Deprivation
Social media falls into the list of leading causes of sleep deprivation in teens today, including young women.
They’re always worried about what their friends are posting and sharing, even at the dead night. Adolescents stay active on social media as long as not prompted to be stopped.
And if they do these, especially during sleep time or just before sleep, there’s a high possibility of their sleep being disrupted.
7. Adolescent Wild Dreams Lower Self-esteem
Most young girls start comparing themselves with celebrities after spending a significant amount of time on social media. And they also want to look slim, pretty, and rich like them, which aren’t viable options always.
This imitation can negatively affect their self-respect and dignity. The outcome of different studies suggests that young girls who spend more time on social media and try to live by the standards similar to celebrities get isolated from family and friend circles.
8. Social Isolation Comes with Higher Social Media Involvement
I felt the urge to further explain the social isolation part under the digital social media section’s downsides.
There’s a statistical relationship between the use of social media and social isolation. When teenagers see the pictures or videos of a party where they’re not invited, it can bring anxiety. It’s known as “fear of missing out” or FOMO.
Mostly, young girls believe that they’re connecting to a bunch of diverse personalities using social media, but such connections don’t roll out much in real life.
Therefore, they constantly miss being present, which increases their fear and anxiety, leading to severe isolation.
9. Higher Screen-time Leads to Poor Concentration and Laziness
Today, the negative effects of social media on students are easily noticeable. Different tasks, such as schoolwork, classwork, or homework, require more concentration to deal with.
However, young women these days have a habit of simultaneously using social media. Most of them consider it multitasking, but it’s not. Researches show constant interruption harms attention and reduces learning performance.
Besides, heavy use of social media and not spending enough time on serious activities and studies destroy the creativity in the young generation.
Those who exercise daily, their body release endorphins that signal our brain to stay positive and energetic. But, constant engrossment on social media reduces our proactiveness, limiting the secretion of endorphins. This results in low to zero productivity as well as depression.
The new socially active era also causes laziness among young women since you can message your friends on their mobiles instead of running to them. Or, instead of walking upstairs to notify the family, you can message them on social media.
10. Higher Screen-time Diminishes Understanding and Thoughtfulness
Since the inception of digital social networking, the quality of conversation has dropped. I believe that people are spending so much time online chats that they don’t always understand the feeling, emotion, or character of the person they’re talking to.
I mean, the modern short-texting styles hardly get your emotion across, do it?
When you talk to someone through a message or even a voice, you can’t always fully understand them. Therefore, young women lose thoughtfulness in terms of expressing or comprehending emotions.
Also, since young women spend a great amount of time networking on social media, they find it difficult to have an actual conversation in real life, be it with their family, relatives, neighbors, or friends.
Sometimes, friends can get so socially attached to some digital entertainment or task, such as a blog or gaming console, that they lose touch with friends, creating small gaps and holes in close friendships.
11. Social Media Addiction Creates A Skewed Self-Image
We, young women, tell lies to ourselves about our image, something that we aren’t. We post pictures of us looking perfect and share the good news while suffering at the backend measurably with life issues.
We never post pictures of ourselves when our dog dies, when someone we love leaves, and when we lose a job. We never share that bad news that always clouds our emotions.
We all develop this perfect image of ourselves on digital social media, and some of us try to rely on this naive thought. We tend to avoid staying true to who we are.
I like to agree that the world would be a much slower place without the presence of digital social media, but you can’t ignore that it’s caused harm as well as good.
However, both perks and downsides of social media are prevalent nowadays. I would suggest you read this article to decide what’s better for your young girl.
Read our blog “A Study on Social Media Affecting Women’s Mental Health” to know more about modern digital social media’s overpowering impact on women of all ages.