Is Social Media Really More Good Than Bad for Teens?

twitter-sq-mediumWe spend a lot of time talking about social media – to parents, educators, industry partners and the press – and we consistently say that it does more good than harm, even for teens if used correctly. As a parent, when you hear about what seems like an epidemic of cyberbullying, sexting, phishing, catfishing, revenge porn and privacy concerns, you might think just the opposite.

We really do believe that the online world gives young people opportunities to learn, connect with people, discover and grow that were not available to my generation. Don’t just take my word for it, though.

I saw a Twitter post this morning by Daniel Victor, social media staff editor at the New York Times, who references the Facebook post (his) below. It’s pretty clear that he agrees with us.

Linked screenshot text:

“I’d argue that the ability for everyone to self-publish, as opposed to just those rich enough to buy barrels of ink and massive distribution systems, is the best thing we’ve ever had for communication, especially for those who have been intentionally and unintentionally excluded. And as a reporter, I’d argue Rolodex-based sourcing reinforces the same people appearing in the same stories written for the same people, and many forms of reporting have never been stronger due to our ability to give more people access to our pre-published work. And as a person, some of my most rewarding friendships/relationships have been found and maintained through social media in a way that definitely wouldn’t happen through just letters and the telephone.”

Even if your teen isn’t a wanna be journalist, this can still apply. Expressing ideas voluntarily, especially when not being told to by a teacher, can be extremely positive in helping a teen develop an identity and real world skills. We have all known someone in the workplace who struggled to put together a coherent two-sentence email.

Being able to see, in real time, what the Pope, or President Obama, or your favorite athlete is sharing is very powerful. Being able to comment, and maybe get an answer, is mind boggling.

Sure, teach your teen to avoid the negatives on social media, but allow him to benefit from all the positive things, ideas and people there. It’s good.

By the way, I never heard of Daniel Victor before today. I didn’t follow him on Twitter (I do now) and am not friends with him on Facebook. I saw his thoughts posted on Twitter by someone else and asked him (again, on Twitter) if I could use them. He said yes. 20 years ago, the idea of a regular guy initiating an impromptu conversation with any staff editor at the NY Times and getting an answer would have been pure fantasy.


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