Social Media’s Influence on Youth

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In the twenty-first century, we are living in a very unique time. For instance, you do not need to wait for the daily newspaper to arrive to know the weather, news, latest updates, etc. Today, information is released to the public as soon as it is available, creating an instantaneous source of information on virtually any topic. Social media has shifted many aspects of our lives from entertainment to the way we receive information. Every year, more and more teens join social media outlets such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. It is fair to say, social media has both positive and negative influence on today’s generation.
One upside of social media is a teen’s ability to make a living off of social media; this job description is called being an influencer. An influencer is someone who uses his or her social media account for financial gain. Users who have a large following have the ability to sway the opinions of their fans, and brands pay them to feature their products. The typical job of a teenager is a fast-food employee, babysitter, or lifeguard that usually pays minimum wage or maybe more in some situations; however, social media influencers can make bank. Charli D’amelio, for instance, is a 16-year-old influencer on Tiktok who has a following of 90.8 million and 7 billion likes. According to an article on Distractify.com, D´amelio gets paid about $25,000 per post and has a whopping net worth of 4 million dollars. I don’t know about you, but that is crazy to me–an everyday average teenager suddenly turns into an internet celebrity who makes over five times the amount of the average American. Another example of a successful social media influencer is the YouTuber Emma Chamberlain who is 19 years old. She has a net worth of 8 million dollars. Even Though making a living off of social media is not very common, the idea that this kind of career is even possible is amazing. As shown, social media has opened opportunities for teens today to go beyond the typical wages earned at a minimum wage job.
Even though the idea of becoming rich and famous through social media seems unproblematic, these young stars still face challenges. Influencers are subjected to the opinions of their many followers who can often be rude. As such, social media gives young people the chance to be nasty with impunity. This can cause young influencers to become victims of cyberbullying and hate. Unfortunately, the upside of being a teen influencer also has this downside.
Furthermore, social media has created a platform for teens to express their political beliefs and become more involved in politics. Now more than ever, teens are using social media to share their opinions on pressing political matters through “re-tweets” on Twitter or political threads on their Instagram stories. These issues include the Black Lives Matter protest, Trump/Biden support, etc.. Young people are also encouraged to register to vote through the media in the upcoming presidential election. Media has had a positive effect in this respect because it is important for young people to understand politics and for young people to contribute to the democracy of our nation through their votes.
Just as there are downsides of being a teen influencer, there are also some negative consequences to the widespread availability of political information on social media, or rather, the way teens are apt to interpret or dispense information. For example, just as the name implies, Instagram and Tweets are snippets of information that are quick and brief. Without giving the action a lot of thought, teens tend to redistribute this information through their social media accounts without conducting the proper research to understand the political information they claim they support. Then, if one of their followers disagrees with a position or political viewpoint, the teen can find the conversation devolving into murky and often negative territory due to a lack of information.
Social media is prevalent in many teens’ lives and there is a fine line between its positive and negative effects. Teens have the power to do much good with their social media accounts; they have the unparalleled ability to influence others and to educate themselves. The trick is to use social media wisely–to be tolerant of others and remain kind despite differences in opinion, to research information before it is reshared or retweeted, to remember that the role to influence others requires responsibility. As a matter of course, whether social media is beneficial or detrimental is determined by how one chooses to use it.