Social media are websites and applications (apps) that enable users to create and share content, such as photos and videos. Social media allow users to network with friends, family, acquaintances, celebrities, and others in virtual communities and networks, hence the term social network.
Facebook. YouTube. Twitter. Snapchat. Instagram. What'sApp. WeChat. Tik Tok...the list goes on and on.
The power and importance of social media
Social media can be used to build brands, and is effective and important tool in promoting products and services. It can be used to start fundraisers, raise awareness on an important issue, and to make a meaningful impact in your community and beyond. Using social media can make you feel connected, improve social skills, open up a world of new cultures, societal ideals and issues, and help youth become more active citizens in society.
Why is social networking so popular?
The appeal of social media is that its users can connect with others easily and instantly. Social media allows for real-time experiences and interaction. It is a great way to interact and share experiences. Kids are sharing information and connecting on multiple social media platforms, sometimes all at once. For some kids, social media is their sole means of interacting with others for various reasons, some of which could include geography (rural) and ability (differently-abled youth).
While it is important for adults to instill healthy habits surrounding social media use, including limiting and monitoring time online, it is also important for adults to realize the social media is not a bad thing. It only become a bad thing when social media is used to bully others, for public shaming, spread rumours, and spreading false information.
The social media network of choice depends on the individual, and can also depend on one's gender, ethnicity, and culture. For example, WeChat is China's most popular messaging app, and used by Chinese immigrants to Prince Edward Island.
Take an interest and ask questions
If you have questions about the social media youth are using, ask questions, take an interest, and have open and honest conversations with them. Learn the pros, cons, and why a particular social media platform is appealing. Empower youth to safely experiment with social media then ask them what they liked or didn't like about a certain app or platform, what they would change, the benefits, and how they can use social media while ensuring they are implementing good online practices.
Who knows, you may even try and like it.
Recommended resources on Social Media 101