Social Media’s Effects on Self Development in Youth

I grew up on the internet before it was called the internet. When I was 11, I helped the local librarian set up the town’s first community computer and taught her how to search for information online. 20 years later, I see how communicating online is a natural part of peoples’ lives, especially the younger population.

Making a hashtag trending, saying provoking statements for retweets, collecting social likes, and gaining a follower base… all these activities have their benefits. They help deliver or receive a message and emotionally connect people with a digital community. I am happy for those who enjoy this sort of influence, but I wonder how influencing a digital community affects a person’s actions in real life… especially how does being on social media effect youth and their personal development?

There are facebook pages, twitter handles, and instagram feeds for kids who aren’t old  enough to spell. By the time the children reach high school age, they could have more online subscribers than there are people living in their city. It’s not the kids putting this content on the internet; it’s their parents.  If a child is extroverted, they may enjoy this and gain social energy by the feedback. On the downside, they might behave more extreme in real life in order to have stories or photos worthy of massive feedback online. If a child is introverted, they could feel over exposed and have a stronger need for personal space than usual. What if a bully finds a photo from years ago and uses this against the youth? The victim could possibly be harmed with digital ammunition provided by the child’s own parent.

Personally, I am very extroverted. In my last business, using over 400 anonymous social channels, I gained more than 7,000,000 followers. After experiencing both positive and negative feedback from my interactions online, I started to feel a need to step back from the over exposure. I felt that my online community was distracting me from becoming the person I truly wanted to become. I deleted many of my accounts with the most followers because I was getting feedback from a population that I wasn’t interested in subjecting myself.

Finding energy and focus through self-awareness is always a good thing. Subjecting one’s self to the public is a conscious decision. I recommend to any parent who is considering putting their child online to consider my point of view.

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