Social Media and Social Development

Social Media and Social Development





The paper focuses on social development of young people as it relates to technology. It discusses the influence that the new media, in form of social media, has had on the formation and development of relationships and friendships among young people. It examines the positive and negative effects of the interactions that result from the use of social media. The paper identifies the need to conduct more research concerning the genuine nature of the relationships formed through social media. This follows the tendencies that many people have of only presenting their positive experiences and the fact that their responses are not always a reflection of their true sentiments and beliefs.


Social Media and Social Development

Advances in technology have affected communication in many different ways. It is important to analyze the communication from the new media and discuss how this communication has affected young people’s development. Technology has increased the number of channels that young people can access and use to communicate and given them the opportunity to retain their friendships and relationships. Most young people use social networking sites to retain the friendships they already have. A majority of them do not use the social networking sites meet strangers (Farber et al., 2012). They constantly communicate with their friends using texts and messages, images, and video. Hence, social networking sites are essential for the social development of young people. Social networking sites have made it possible for many young people to engage socially with others. The sites have enabled the users to find other users who share common interests and subjects.

The condition of anonymity provided by many social networking sites has made it possible for many people to join different groups on the new media without having to worry about acceptance. Many people feel secure when they use the social networking sites without worrying that others will know of their identity. The condition of anonymity can increase and enhance the depth, duration, and quality of information provided. Moreover, anonymity encourages interpersonal disclosures, which is important because it reveals the importance of social networking sites and their ability to provide a channel for young people to vent. The youth can express their emotions and express their feelings about their concerns. Many young people who are socially anxious use social media as a way of helping them to make friends. The use of new media benefits those who are lonely, since it eases formation and maintenance of friendships (Bonetti et al., 2013)

The use of social networking sites is not always beneficial. Research has indicated that social media use is highly influential in the development of some conditions such as sleep deprivation, internet addiction, social anxiety, depression, social isolation, and aggression. Moreover, some of the young people using social media have reported instances of online harassment and bullying. There is also the risk of sharing too much information online (Farber et al., 2012). Many young people prefer to communicate using different online tools instead of having face-to-face conversations with their peers, which can affect the information that a person reveals.

Contrary to what many critics claim, the use of digital technology and social media are not a way of avoiding intimacy and close conversations (Farber et al., 2012). Technology has been part of young people’s lives. The youth did not have to adopt it as they aged but rather grew up with it. Therefore, it has become an essential part of their social interactions and experiences. Young people are more likely to see the benefits of technology since it gives them endless ways of communication. They do not have to be limited by distance, geography, or time to communicate. Moreover, they do not have to wait for endless hours before they get feedback. Young people are only aware of instant communication irrespective of the distance and time difference between the people communicating (Farber et al., 2012).

There is some value lost when using online communication instead of interacting face to face. People who choose to use online communication fail to recognize the importance of body language and other non-verbal communication. Frequent text messaging has made it hard for younger people to recognize the value of tonal quality, which has created a communication divide between the younger people, who are always on their digital devices, and the older generation, whose preference is face-to-face interactions.

Some of the negative uses of technology have provided important lessons for the users. People on digital platforms have become more aware of the public nature of social media. Additionally, maintaining privacy has become an integral lesson for anyone using social media. The users have to learn about keeping some of their information private. Moreover, the users have learnt about the importance of maintaining a positive public image as well. Social media users learn how to maintain and manage their online identity (Farber et al., 2012; Rosen et al., 2013).

The use of social media in communication makes it possible for those who are communicating to think about their responses first and to react without the other person knowing. When a person reads a post or text from a friend, he does not have to worry about what the other person will think about the reaction, which is not possible using face-to-face communication. When people choose to communicate face to face, they have to be aware of their emotions. They are vulnerable since their facial expressions and body language is revealed openly, which can cause conflict and damage relationships. Face-to-face interactions are genuine but are not always beneficial since they can endanger personal relationships and damage a person’s reputation. On the other hand, the users of social media do not have to worry about this. Their response does not have to reflect their real feelings. For instance, they can respond that they are okay with a decision even though they are not. Despite the lack of authenticity, social media is beneficial since it enables people to avoid conflict (Farber et al., 2012).

Social media interactions can have negative effects on social esteems, and they can lead to false expectations. Many young people are less likely to report experiences that they may perceive to be negative. Instead, they are more likely to report positive experiences, which they think other people will admire and appreciate. Moreover, younger people are more likely to be concerned about the number of people who are following them or the number of contacts they have. Many tend to focus on how many ‘likes’ their peers are getting. Such comparisons can be detrimental because they can make a person feel inadequate and unpopular. Moreover, the need for constant recognition can influence the actions that people choose to do. Some young people have resulted to desperate measures such as posting nude their nude pictures so that they can increase their contacts and they can get more people to appreciate and recognize them. They spend a lot of time, effort and energy trying to convince others and themselves to appreciate them. They present the image that they are doing well, but this might not be the case.

The use of social media and other digital devices have changed communication and interaction, especially among young people. The results from the research indicate that such interactions have had both negative and positive effects. Among the most important benefits are that young people are able to maintain their relationships irrespective of barriers such as distance and time. They can communicate constantly and they can find others who share similar interests. However, constant use of social media can have negative effects because it could lead to social isolation, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, there is the possibility of developing shallow friendships and relationships, which are not genuine since people might be more concerned about presenting a positive image and other false representations. The question of authenticity and relationships remains an integral point of research when analyzing social media use. Arguably, it would be important to determine the possibilities of forming and maintaining genuine relationships through social media and to determine whether the traditional face-to-face communication has any advantage where this is concerned.



Bonetti, L., Campbell, M. A., & Gilmore, L. (2010). The relationship of loneliness and social anxiety with children’s and adolescents’ online communication. CyberPsychology, behavior and social networking, 13(3), 279-285

Farber, A. B., Shafron, G., Hamadani, J., Wald, E., & Nitzburg, G. (2012). Children, technology, problems, and preferences. Journal of clinical psychology, 68(11), 1225-1229

Rosen, D. L., Whaling, K., Rab, S., Carrier, M. L., Cheever, N. A. (2013). Is Facebook creating “iDisorders”? The link between clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders and technology use, attitudes and anxiety. Computers in human behavior, 29(3), 1243-1254


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