With less face-to-face contact in real life as a result of COVID-19, teens have turned to social media as a way to connect, create, and defeat boredom. Not just teens, but adults and even entire families have found interaction, expression, and entertainment on social media applications.
As a result, there has been significant growth in many of the social media platforms and new trends associated with social media apps. There have been many positives of social media, but it can also put negative pressures on teenagers.
One of the biggest issues for teens who use social media is the associated social media pressures, such as keeping up with the latest trends and memes. For example, TikTok has been the fastest-growing platform during the pandemic. The platform has bred new dances posted almost daily that have gone viral, with thousands of views and likes. Thus, teens feel pressure to learn those dances and keep up with everyone else.
The Growth of Social Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The teenage years are a time of seeking acceptance outside the family, with peers typically ranking as the top targets for approval. Now the added social media pressures are contributing to the pressure teens feel to get acceptance and approval. Consequently, they seek attention through “likes” and positive comments.
Using social media applications has become a way of life for this generation. The most popular social media apps used by teens include:
- TikTok – A short-form video platform for music, dance, and other videos
- Instagram – A photo-rich platform to post pics, videos, and comments
- YouTube – A video platform recently expanded to include professional content
- Snapchat – An app for taking photos, complete with filters to modify content.
Recent Changes in Social Media While We Stay Home
There have been many changes in social media during the stay-at-home restrictions and social-distancing measures put in place due to the coronavirus. One very positive change is that there are more self-policing platforms to debunk misinformation, especially misinformation related to the virus. According to a recent Forbes article, many platforms have removed content that was factually incorrect and added links to information that comes directly from trusted sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Some platforms have also tried to build a greater sense of community, offering information and support during a time of uncertainty and physical disconnection from others. For example, social media users are more frequently using Instagram Live to broadcast interviews, performances, and more. This includes celebrities, who are more relatable to the general population as a result of social media during quarantine.
Positives of Social Media
For as many negatives that social media presents, there are positives as well. Social media applications have long been associated with the power of connecting with friends and families—a connection that many teens need more than ever right now.
Social media can also help teens develop independence. Parents cannot always be there and using social media can be a helpful way to empower children to have greater awareness. This does not happen autonomously. Parents should talk with their teens extensively about social media, including what they’re viewing and the related social media pressures it can create. Most importantly, parents should create a comfortable and open dialogue so their teenagers will come to them if they see something inappropriate, violent, or harmful. When communication between parents and teens is working, social media can actually bring families closer together as has been seen through the many viral family TikTok dances.
Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash