After waking up, many young people reach for their cell phones first thing in the morning. Who has liked my last picture? What funny videos have my friends sent? Where is the next cool party? Find out why social media is so important, especially for young people, in this article.
Social media or social networks are platforms that are used to network and exchange information with others via the Internet. Currently, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube are particularly popular with young people.
Through these channels, they can upload pictures and videos that are liked, shared and commented on by their followers. Users find out about the latest information on various topics in order to stay up to date. Trends are made or spread via social media. The platforms can usually be used free of charge via browser and/or app.
Being part of it, being able to have a say, being up to date, trying out and presenting oneself, meeting people with the same interests, trying out new things – these are all reasons for young people to use social media. They use the platforms to share insights from their private lives with friends or sometimes even strangers.
Young people in puberty are in the process of forming a personality. Through feedback on posts in social networks, they receive recognition, feel a sense of belonging, and increase their self-esteem. Influencers also help people find their identity by providing inspiration and being role models.
Social media channels are places where young people meet and share, and where parents don’t necessarily have insight.
Being on social media means being visible to others online. Not all young people are aware of this. You reveal things about yourself on Instagram and the like that other people – even strangers – can follow. In addition, young people are often under pressure to be permanently online so as not to miss anything. Read more about this in the article “The phenomenon FOMO – Fear of missing out“. Media self-portrayal also plays a major role here. Who gets the most likes, comments or clicks and is particularly popular? Young people compare themselves with each other and want to be like others in order not to attract negative attention. That’s part of puberty.
In addition to interacting with peers, teens can connect with strangers through social media. Their photos are commented on or they receive subscription requests from unknown people with unclear intentions. You can find out more about this in the article “Communication risks on the Net“.
Because social media is an important place for young people to share and explore, it can be difficult for them to be excluded from it. Talk to your child if you have concerns about them signing up for a platform. Go through the privacy settings together so that it is safe to use. Children and teenagers also have a right to privacy, so you should not secretly check your child’s smartphone. It’s important to stay in touch and ask what it’s doing on social media. Explain to your child what the risks are and what a conscious approach to private photos, videos or other information in the online world should look like. If you openly share your concerns and remain interested, your child is more likely to turn to you for help with fears or problems than if you only issue prohibitions or unfounded assumptions.