Social media has quickly become a vital part of everyday life. People have access to the world with apps like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok. The rapid growth of these platforms has also increased the rapid concerns for their users. Despite the warnings of potential mental health danger from social media, teens continue to use it.
Throughout the past several years adults have pushed the narrative of the negatives of social media. Parents fear their child will be susceptible to harmfully comparing themselves to others. In a world where millionaire celebrities flex their luxurious lives online, it’s impossible not to. There is also the common fear of cyberbullying and harassment.
Why would teens continue to obsessively use social media despite these serious concerns?
It gives them a sense of community. The countless programs provide groups for teens to discuss their interests and interact with role models. At school, kids can be ostracized for talking about their passions if they are not mainstream. Although there are dangers online, finding a community that makes kids feel welcomed should be something that is celebrated.
Not only are interests reflected throughout social media communities, but kids and teens are able to see representation of themselves online. Despite the common idea that social media only provides harmful comparisons, minorities are becoming more represented online and in the media. The diversity within online creators can benefit teens. They are relatable and make these kids feel seen and important. Even though there will always be harsh comparisons, the normal and approachable creators do help teens realize their full potential.
Many online creators also preach acceptance and the normalization of typically taboo topics. The body positivity movement is an example of this. Creators who discuss this movement talk about healthy habits and the toxicity of diet culture. This encourages teens to accept themselves and feel confident. There are constantly new challenges to the social norms that celebrate everyone and allows people to express themselves freely.
The new age of technology and social media provides a different adolescent experience for “Gen Z.” While older generations look down upon it, it is clear that social media culture can be something good. Feeling welcomed, celebrated and seeing representation online is what can make the experience great.