Social media platforms have evolved rapidly during the past few decades with constant stream of new avenues for self-expression, sharing and interaction. Since the 2000s, social media evolved from chatting forums like MIRC, messenger to a whole new online world of Orkut, Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. This paradigm shift has been proved to be a two edged sword for all generations as it offers several advantages as well as disadvantages.
Given the vulnerability and lack of experience of young children, parents are often concerned about the disadvantages and negative effects of social media. As research show concerning studies about the negative effects of social media that are becoming more apparent day by day with increased usage, it is imperative for parents to take a wholesome approach towards understanding social media, its uses and drawbacks and then take relevant actions.
Advantages of Social Media
Before jumping to the conclusion that use of social media will harm your child, it is important to understand that the same forum offers several benefits as well. The influences and benefits that social media forums offer can be used in healthy ways for children. Some of the main uses of social media include the following:
- Living in the 4th industrial Revolution of Digital age, it is inevitable and significant that younger generation equip themselves with the technical knowledge and skills to navigate through the updated technology and forums. The paradigm shift in social culture has also greatly influenced the businesses and technologies and therefore, in order to fully participate in this new tech age, children need to be fully adaptable to new norms of society.
- Social media forums like YouTube and Facebook have provided younger generation with avenues of self-expression, skills development and confidence building like never before. Children sitting in Pakistan can now interact with global audience for studies, project sharing, skill development and competitions. During the current pandemic, children have done online courses from YouTube and educational websites by getting links from social media forums like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. This exposure is unthinkable for majority without use of social media.
- For countries like Pakistan, healthy exposure to social media has changed perspectives of younger generation including children extensively. Children can interact with global peers sharing similar interests which are less prevalent in their own local circles. A child interested in coding or animations can join online classes and forums for interaction with people who have similar interest instead of being referred to as geek or wait several years to join relevant university. This can address the social isolation issue for many kids while providing them an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Introversion is another matter of concern for children that can be addressed through social media forums. Like psychological traits, personalities and individuality and their related issues are not seriously addressed in Pakistan. Social media forums provide introverts an opportunity to share their opinions and shine online through various projects, articles, performances and other inputs while overcoming their shyness and hesitation to interact unnecessarily.
- Exposure of younger children to global audience and peers can provide an opportunity for less developed nations like Pakistan and its younger generation to adapt more quickly to global trends in education, news, technology and social aspects. Social media exposure also broadens social and cultural perspectives of younger generation making them more open to change which in turn can benefit them and country in future. The will to change for good has recently emerged as one of the top trends in Pakistan among younger generation in terms of climate change, forestation, cleanliness. These are also perks of exposure to social media.
- Lastly, social media forums have become a major source of information and news for both adults and children. When used with precaution and guidance, social media can help young kids stay ahead of their peers in terms of current trends and be more aware of their surroundings as well as international community.