Free «The Impact of Social Media on Teenagers» UK Essay Sample

The Impact of Social Media on Teenagers

1.0 Introduction

The use of technology and social media has been rapidly changing and expanding in the last 20 years. In fact, nowadays, people can access many applications in one device that can be held in one hand, such as the Internet, take pictures, text messaging, and make a phone call. People can access all these applications while using their smart phones. According to Ahn (2011), people are so addicted to their smart phones, that the worst moment for them now is when their cell phones’ battery is dead. In short, technology, in general, has made our lives easier and connected us to the world while we are stationary. 

With all benefits of technological advancements, there are a lot of disadvantages that the use of technology has created to humans. Teenagers are one of the groups that technology has affected personal and academic life.

1.1 Problem Statement and Purpose

Due to the decreasing use of proper language among the teenage population, it is important to teach the next generation, who is going to be leaders of tomorrow, about using the proper English language. Most of these language issues are caused by the increasing use of social media. The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of using social media on the communication skills of the U.S. teenagers aged between 12 and18. 

2.0 History of Social Media

The history of social media dates back to 1997, when the first network site, SixDegrees.com, was created (Boyd & Nicole, 2007). However, before that, the ability to create profiles and communicate was provided at the dating sites, such as Match.com or others. According to Boyd & Nicole (2007), social networks are web-based services that should provide such options as creating profiles within the system and ability to connect or follow other users. Some other common sites that were created later include Classmate.com, Ryze.com, Tribe.net. However, those that became the most popular are Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook (Boyd & Nicole, 2007).

Social media impacts are growing. Nowadays, it gets more and more users on different platforms, such as social networks, blogs, video sites and others. The statistics of 2008 showed that there were already 17, 000 of the active web users (Smith, 2009). The number of teenagers and pre-adolescents using various types of social media is also great. O’Keffy & Clarke-Pearson (2011) reported that 22% of teenagers visit their network profile at least ten times a day. 75% of teenagers have cell phones and use them for social media, texting, and instant messaging (O’Keffy & Clarke-Pearson, 2011). The researches reveal that teenagers cannot control themselves properly due to their age peculiarities and are a risk group when speaking about experiments with social media.

The appearance of the social networks and Internet development are the key events in social media development. Such internet sites as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, Mixi, Cyworld and others attract millions of users daily (Wuest, 2010). These sites are mostly used to support the connection between people, share the interests or activities, and learn new information. At the same time, they can vary not only depending on the common audience’s interests, but also on the types of connectivity and communication tools they use. For instance, they can include photo and video sharing, mobile connectivity, and other communication tools (Boyd & Nicole, 2007).

3.0 Definition of Social Media

Social media is defined differently by different scholars. One of the simplest ways to arrive at the definition of the concept is by understanding the meanings of the two words ‘social’ and ‘media’ separately. Media refers to a means through which information is passed across from a sender to a receiver. As such, Agosto and Abbas (2011) state that social media is a social instrument that is used for communication to enable users to create and share contents. Social media can also be defined as the computer-based tools that facilitate the creation and exchange of different contents in the networks and virtual communities. The applications that are used are based on the technological and ideological foundations to enable users to create and share different contents.

The effectiveness of social media relies on successful utilization of technologies that enable the creation of interactive platforms to facilitate content creation, discussions, and modifications. The adoption of social media in everyday communication has caused a great change in the way people interact. There are several differences between social media and traditional media. The differences are evident in the quality of the shared content, the level of reach, immediacy and usability among other factors. Social media contents are shared from several sources to several receivers. It is referred to as a dialogic transmission system that differs from the transmission of contents from a single source to many receivers (monologic transmission system) that is observed in traditional media (Ahn, 2011). Many associate social media with several less expensive and easily accessible electronic tools. By using the tools, anyone is capable of publishing and accessing information, collaborating to undertake an issue of common interest, besides building relationships.

4.0 Types of Social Media

There are several types of social media that are already in use, and many others are expected to be created. Among the most current and popular ones are social networking websites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Bebo (Ahn, 2011).

Facebook has gained popularity over years, recording above one billion active monthly users by the month of October 2012 (Chambers, 2013). The users of the social media platforms that are categorized as social networks are capable of building web pages that feature their interests and personal portfolios. These pages give the users an opportunity to create connections with friends and other users of such platforms as they share various contents. 

Another category of the social media platforms is referred to as web blogs. They are among the oldest forms of social media, and they are often perceived as online journals. Some of the commonly known blogging websites include WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger (Arditti, 2015). A part from the journal-style posts, there are micro-blogs that are known to be featuring short posts. Micro-blogs restrict the number of texts that users can post. The same is that case with the number of images and videos that they can post. In most cases, the users take advantage of micro-blogging sites when they intend to make some quick updates or when they intend to share contents by the use of their mobile devices. The most common micro-blogging site is Twitter. There are also some micro-blogging features in Google+ and Facebook.

There are other types of social media that are categorized as content communities. The social media platforms allow their users to have their comments organized and shared. The users can share videos and images through content communities, such as YouTube and Flickr among others. People can also add and edit content on Wiki websites. They are supported by a community-base database, and the most famous Wiki is known as Wikipedia. There are also podcasts that refer to audio and video files that become available to users after subscribing to them. The users of podcasts take advantage of portable media players that are capable of accommodating services, like Apple iTunes. Besides, there is the Student Circle Network that facilitates the connections and communication between teachers, students, and institutions. Through the Student Circle Network, users can share various course resources (Agosto & Abbas, 2011).

5.0 Opinion on Social Media

The opinion on the social networks usage is quite disputable. On the one hand, they help to support social relation while, on the other hand, they raise the privacy issues (Wuest, 2010). The practices of spamming, providing links to malicious sites, placing baits celebrities’ or friends’ impersonation, phishing or various Koobface or similar redirections are the common risks associated with the social network usage (Wuest, 2010). Moreover, it can be helpful not only for communication, but also for studies. Such sites as YouTube and Facebook are used by 90% of the virtual faculties. Some social media tools can be also used during the classes or afterwards to post the content. In such a way, it can be valuable to cooperate and save time.

Teenagers are the most numerous users of social networks. For this reason, a number of studies are focused on the influence of social media mainly on this group. A research by Ahn (2011) provides many pieces of evidence that such spheres as psychological state, safety, social relations and academic achievements are under the influence of social media. All these are affected by the time spent on internet matters. Moreover, the emotional vulnerability and easy perception of any information can lead to negative consequences (Ahn, 2011).

According to Valkenurg & Peter (2011), online communication can influence self-representation, as well as identity and sexuality development. The cognitive abilities can also be influenced by virtual communication. According to Romero et al (2010), social media users can become the passive information consumers.

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Moreover, they can repost the ideas of the other people without developing their own thoughts or reflections. They can even absorb the ideas without any analysis. King-Ries (2010) argues that there is a connection between the violence crisis in the US and the growth of the Internet usage. Mainly, impressionability of young people together with the lack of internet-related limitations can cause real problems with the comprehension of good and bad. In addition, “internet addiction” can also become a serious problem, especially for 15-25 year-old people (Sharafeh, Amani & Tabarraie, 2014).

6.0 The Problem Associated with Social Media

“IYO TXTng = Gd 4 or NME of GMR?” if you do not understand what the previous statement says, then you most likely have not texted a teenager before. The meaning of this statement is “In your opinion, is texting good for or enemy of grammar?” (Text messaging and its effects on teens' grammar, 2009). In the U.S. there are 95% of teens aged between 12-17 years old that have access to the Internet. 76% of them have access to social media networking sites, and 77% of them have their own cellphones (Anderson & Rainie, 2012).

The problem that we are facing now with the teenage population is that their use of social media has been affecting their formal writing skills. The problem is due to the quickness that social media has created with their communication methods. Thus, teenagers have created a new language to help them respond quicker. This language depends on the shortcut of words and describes the sentences with the least amount of words as they can. There are also other aspects that affect the writing skills of people in general. Specifically, Twitter limits the amount of characters that can be used for each post (Chopra, 2013). Thus, teenagers tend to do these shortcuts to minimize the number of characters that they use for each post on twitter and text messaging as well (Raise Smart Kid, 2012). 

6.1 What the Case Means

There is a case study that discussed two teenagers who go to the same high school and are in the same English class. Those two individuals are named as Carol and Chase. They are not close friends, each one of them has their own friends, but they are taking the same English class. Carol’s parents have a limited phone plan and cannot afford the unlimited text messaging. On the other hand, Chase’s family has got unlimited text messaging on their plan, and Chase is always texting. In fact, on average Chase texts 3500 messages a month (Text messaging and its effects on teens' grammar, 2009).

Mrs. Diego, the English class teacher for Carol and Chase, asked the class to write a formal paper. When they finished writing the paper, Mrs. Diego asked for peer reviewing. Carol was paired with Chase. Thhey exchanged their papers, and Carol noticed a lot of grammar mistakes on Chase’s paper. Carol kept quiet, but Mrs. Diego read Chase’s paper. What she found was something that she noticed in the past few years. Chase used to write “cuz” to mean “because” and the sentences were short and had no depth thoughts. However, Carol’s paper was not perfectly written either. It was because English was not her favorite subject. However, she made good main ideas and supported them with facts, details, and descriptions. English is not the favorite subject for both Carol and Chase. However, there was a difference in their grades on that paper. Carol scored a higher grade than Chase. The reason behind this is that Chase was more addicted to social media and texting than Carol. The overuse of texting made Chase always want to write words in the shortest form if possible (Text messaging and its effects on teens' grammar, 2009).

7.0 How Social Media Affects Communication Skills of Teenagers

There are several advantages that are associated with the use of social media. When rating the level of the internet use based on the age bracket of users, it is realized that teenagers are the majority of social media users. According to Ahn (2011), the percentage of the internet teenage users who are realized to be frequenting social media sites stands at 80%. The level of aggressiveness of teenagers makes them the first adopters of new technological inventions. The high involvement with the various types of social media has made the real life to experience a lot of change. There is a need for all users of social media platforms to demonstrate a unique form of the adaptation to the social media. It is necessary for teenagers to be guided in the way they consume social media contents to avoid the negative implications of freely accessing the information that is available online. The effects of social media on teenagers are diverse. Apart from the social, psychological and economic effects, Arditti (2015) states that social media also affects teenagers educationally, with a great distortion to their grammar and verbal texts speak. There is an increasing concern over the fact that social media has provided teenagers with a completely new way of communication. Most teenagers are currently using short forms and acronyms that are characteristic of social media communication in formal conversations, either written or spoken. It is an unpleasant trend that threatens to erode teenagers’ language development abilities and lead to the formation of a completely different way of communication.

7.1.0 Social Media and Teenagers’ Written Communication

7.1.1 Use of shortcuts and acronyms

Social media destroys teenagers’ communication skills. For instance, texting can be good for some emergency situations, but it does not let the social skills be developed properly (Graham, 2013). Real human interaction cannot be replaced with texting. Moreover, texting or instant messaging does not follow the generally accepted grammar rules. Instead, it has a very different structure and corresponds to some newly-created literacy norms rather than to the generally accepted ones (Sweeny, 2010). Hence, focusing mainly on messaging distorts the adolescence comprehension of literacy. Moreover, the shortcuts, acronyms and numerous new words create a kind of new slang for the media users.

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There is a lot of concern over the observation that the teenage population’s formal writing skills are largely affected by social media. Various social media platforms have created a quick communication method that does not require premeditation before sharing information (Moran, Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2011). The quickness is also influential in that it enables teenagers and other users of various social media platforms to communicate a lot of information within the little space that is available for doing this. The need to share as much information as possible within the limited space provided by the social media has prompted teenagers to create a new language. This enables them to share and respond to the information shared by their friends. The newly created language is based on the ability to use shortcuts of words and the level of competence in describing long sentences by using as less words as possible. The use of shortcuts in communication as required by most of the available social media platforms, for instance, Twitter, has made it difficult for teenagers to draw a boundary regarding the contexts that are suitable for such kind of communication. When communicating on Twitter, the users have the limited amount of words that they can use for every post. Therefore, teenagers develop a skill that involves the use of shortcuts to enable them to minimize the number of characters that they use when making their posts. Valkenurg and Peter (2011) state that the same trend is observed in text messaging where people often use shortcuts for them to communicate as much information as possible within the limited space.

Teenagers are learning a new language over social media. It is possible since social media is presenting a platform for teenagers to learn a new language that they use for condensing their thoughts. Because of the need for social media users to condense their thoughts within limited space, they develop excessive text speak that result into the development of a completely new language. Tex speak is a special type of shorthand that involves the use of a new language that is full of abbreviations. Some terms have emerged among teenagers and are often used in communication, hence causing a lot of confusion to those to whom they are incomprehensible. The terms, for instance, ‘LOL’, which is used in place of ‘laugh out loud,’ have undergone some evolution to the extent that they are currently used to communicate more meanings than the original meaning of the abbreviations (Mazzarella, 2007). The abbreviation ‘LOL’ has been transformed to the extent that it is currently used for the purposes of adding some light-hearted impact on messages in a similar manner as a punctuation mark. The abbreviation is an example of the extent to which the use of shorthand in the social media has led to the emergency of a completely new language among teenagers.

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