Information is readily available concerning the risks and impact of social media on the overall wellness of youth today. Most of us are aware of the numerous claims and reports of the negative consequences and effects that can result from the increased use of social media among this highly impressionable and susceptible demographic group. Increased mental health issues, anxiety issues, depression, suicide risk, social and intellectual inadequacies, cognitive changes in brain development, and loss of real world context have all been documented (Stieger & Wunderl, 2022). The staggering increase in social media use has resulted in many youth being socially inept and lacking the basic social skills to interact and connect with others face-to-face (Li & Mora, 2022). Simple conversational skills are becoming endangered. One study suggests a relationship between social media use and a decrease in physical performance by youth athletes due to the mental preoccupation (Hudomova, et al., 2021). As with most wellness topics, the mental and physical outcomes are specifically linked.
Less often does one hear reports of the positive effects or outcomes resulting from the use of social media. Social media can have positive effects on today’s youth and children by bridging cultural and social gaps, providing an inclusive environment, and serving as a creative outlet. These are all factors which improve the dimensions of social, emotional and intellectual wellness.
For many, social media does facilitate exactly what its name implies; social interaction which can add to overall wellness. Weeden, Cooke, & McVey reported that the largest percentage of adolescents that participated in their study used social media for beneficial activities such as making plans with their friends, getting help with homework, and moral support in the form of complimenting each other. Only a very small percentage (8%) reported exposure that was negative in nature. Studies such as this show that social media has the potential to positively impact multiple dimensions of wellness including social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and occupational (as a student homework comprises occupational wellness) (Garcia, 2015).
Today social media is the conduit that allows youth to become aware of and involved in the political issues of their surrounding world. Previously, youth were not exposed to politics and political issues on a daily basis as they are now through the use of social media. Prior to social media, youth did not watch or listen to television or radio news or read political newspapers for hours each day. This type of activity was reserved for grandparents.
The digital age of media has brought the end to the age of publishing. The industry of publishing used to be controlled by media professionals and thus so was the content. Today, social media allows anyone with a smart device and an internet connection to publish content and broadcast it to the world. Social media has forever changed how news reaches the masses, how politicians champagne and how groups front social protests. Youth are much more involved in politics and aware of the political, social and economic issues facing them than ever before (Jebril, et. Al, 2020).
Social media has changed how people interact with each other and has facilitated the creation of inclusive communities for marginalized groups. These social media communities provide support virtually for people that do not have an in-person support system available to them. Social media allows families that live far away from each other to stay in contact. It has changed the way that families interact with each other and the family dynamics of communication. Social media also promotes local in-person social events and networking for larger community groups. The conversation on social media before and surrounding an in-person event not only promotes growth in the actual event but also allows those who are engaged on social media who don’t physically attend to still participate and feel included in the action (Biba, 2008).
Social Media has a positive effect on education. According to Almutairi, Et al (2022), social media has facilitated connectivity in educations systems globally. Their study provided results specific to nursing programs that showed that social media had a positive effect on the students by improving interaction, facilitating communication and reducing stress by providing an online community and support system for students. Educational systems everywhere are utilizing social media to improve student interaction (Almutairi, Et al, 2022).
Social media can benefit physical wellness. Physical fitness communities are a rapidly growing demographic on social media. People are able to access free physical fitness instruction videos, track their diets and weight, and receive goal motivation and support from other like-minded participants. There are both fee-based and free options for social media fitness groups making it accessible to anyone (Durau, Diehl, & Terlutter, 2022).
Moderation can be the factor that determines whether the outcomes of social media use are positive or negative. Overindulgence in anything can result in negative effects. It is true that you can have too much of a good thing. In this technical age there is a great need for education addressing human wellness and a sustainability for humanity based in science and fact. Providing knowledge and education are the first steps in achieving wellness for anyone. Of course this rings true only if the received information is true and factual. Social media and the internet are a valuable source of information that can help to educate the world to improve wellness.
The definition and criteria for wellness can vary among different people and cultures. The beauty of social media is that it is completely pliable and can be shaped into whatever form is needed to fit the purpose intended. Social media in itself can be considered an art form. Content creators produce art through their platforms. Photography, dance, writing and video media are only the tip of the social media iceberg. Social media has changed the ways in which youth express themselves. It will continue to evolve and develop to fit the needs and uses of those who engage on this virtual frontier. For today’s youth, social media may now be a permanent part of their way of life as it has integrated itself into society and human behavior.
Exploring social media on the dimensions of youth wellness has opened my eyes to the many positive outcomes of social media and why is it so important to youth and their wellness. Social media has forever changed the ways in which youth express themselves. It is the contemporary equivalent of the teenage hangout and offers most of the same benefits and risks that can be associated so.
Almutairi, M., Simpson, A., Khan, E., & Dickinson, T. (2022). The value of social media use in improving nursing students’ engagement: A systematic review. Nurse Education in Practice, 64. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1016/j.nepr.2022.103455
Biba, E. (2008, November 10). Promoting events with social media. BtoB, 93(16).
Durau, J., Diehl, S., & Terlutter, R. (2022). Motivate me to exercise with you: The effects of social media fitness influencers on users’ intentions to engage in physical activity and the role of user gender. DIGITAL HEALTH, 8, 20552076221102770. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1177/20552076221102769
Garcia, C. (2015). What are the Eight Dimensions of Wellness in Your Life? Colorado Nurse, 115(1), 6.
Hudimova, A., Popovych, I., Savchuk, O., Liashko, V., Pyslar, A., & Hrys, A. (2021). Research on the relationship between excessive use of social media and young athletes’ physical activity. Journal of Physical Education & Sport, 21(6), 3364–3373.
Lee, A. R., & Suzanne Horsley, J. (2017). The role of social media on positive youth development: An analysis of 4-H Facebook page and 4-H’ers’ positive development. Children and Youth Services Review, 77, 127–138. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.04.014
Li, Y., & Mora, R. (2022). On the Use of Social Networking Services and the Ability to Socialize: Evidence from Chinese Children Aged 10 to 15. Applied Economics, 54(49), 5639–5654. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/raec20
Jebril, N., Jukes, S., Iordanidou, S., & Takas, E.. (2020). Journalism, Society and Politics in the Digital Media Era. Intellect Books
Stieger, S., & Wunderl, S. (2022). Associations between social media use and cognitive abilities: Results from a large-scale study of adolescents. Computers in Human Behavior, 135. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1016/j.chb.2022.107358
Tobin, K., & Alexakos, K. (2021). Global challenges need attention now: educating humanity for wellness and sustainability. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 16(3), 651. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1007/s11422-021-10080-6
Weeden, S., Cooke, B., & McVey, M. (2013). Underage Children and Social Networking. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 45(3), 249–262. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1080/15391523.2013.1078260