Social media and its influence on youth

Be mindful of what youth may be seeing on social media.

According to a report by Common Sense Media, 90 percent of youth have used some form of social media as a means to communicate with family, friends, peers and others. As we look at the way in which social media has evolved over the past five years, we can see that most social media outlets use their sites as a way to advertise and make money by providing space to advertisers to market some sort of product or service. As a parent, this could be a great deal of interest as to what is being sent to youth through these media outlets.

Social media is very pervasive in how creative they are nowadays at targeting teens. This could be concerning for a lot of parents, especially when the use of it by teens has been linked to social and emotional well-being. More and more youth have turned to media as an outlet for emotional release as well as a way to bully other teens.

As we look at the implications of media on relationship building, some youth have reported they use social media to keep up with friends and those that have moved out of state. Although youth may be using it for its intended purposes, there are still predators out there that target youth through their advertising.

Although parents and caregivers want children to learn how to build healthy relationships and become strong, autonomous adults, there is still some degree of trust when it comes to the media and media outlets. As caregivers, be mindful of what your child is exposed to and how that may or may not effect relationships for your loved ones.

Through Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development programs, youth have the opportunity to learn about navigating though social media in a safe manner. A new 4-H Exploration Days, June 22-24, 2016, session called the Social Butterfly Experiment will help youth learn about the ins and outs of social media and safety. 

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