With the millions of apps, websites and other platforms for people to communicate through media that are all over the Internet these days, this is truly the age of social media. Teenagers like myself are among the top users of most social media platforms on the Internet. Whether it's updating a Facebook status, fitting a joke into 140 characters or uploading a picture of our lunch to Instagram, we are on the Internet a lot. Social media is a huge part of our culture.
Recently, I've seen a rise in the number of people on my Facebook feed writing or posting long articles about why social media is destructive to teenagers. Many people seem to have a negative outlook on social media and its influence on today's youth. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of negative aspects of kids having so much freedom on the Internet in this day and age. Advertisers have endless opportunities to manipulate and influence us. Privacy is not really an option for most social media users. Plus, the Internet is now an environment that allows people to easily and anonymously hurt others. Cyber bullying has become a huge problem in the last few years. These are all negative aspects of being a part of online communities. That being said, I don't think social media is totally bad. I actually think being part of the social media world is beneficial to teenagers. It provides a space for youth to share opinions, stories and thoughts. It allows us to connect with people all over the world. It can be used for bad things, but it can also be used for good.
On the Internet and off, bullying has always been a huge problem among youth, and probably will be for a long time to come. I'm not trying to justify bullying in any way, but I am simply saying that taking the Internet away would not solve the bullying problem. There are other ways to make a difference.
The people who are against social media seem to focus so much on the fact that this environment gives users an easy way to spread hate, and less on the fact that it also gives users an easy way to spread love. At any time, you can compose a message on a forum like Facebook or Twitter and send it out for anyone in the world to see. Sure, many people on the Internet abuse this opportunity, but what if we encouraged them to use it for good instead?
The other day, in the midst of this big "makeup-free selfie" trend, I used my Facebook as a platform to let my friends know my opinion of it all. I made a status update about how I believe we should be focusing on peoples' inner-beauty instead of the way they look with or without makeup. That status update got a lot of response, and it felt good to be able to reach out to people and share something important to me, in a few clicks of a button.
The thing is, the Internet gives youth so much freedom. We now have a relevant voice because of social media. Granted, there are a lot of youth who don't really know how to use that voice for the right reasons yet. In fact, I'm still figuring it out myself. Instead of discouraging youth in our use of the Internet, I think people should start encouraging us to use it for the right reasons instead of the wrong ones.
The youth of today have a voice like we never have before. Social media can be an awesome environment to encourage each other, communicate with people and share our stories. Social media gives us a chance to reconnect and keep up with old friends and friends that live far away. It gives us the opportunity to share our stories and get our opinions out there. Having the freedom to say what we want on the Internet makes us feel heard. That can be such a powerful feeling, and I think it's a really important one for teenagers to have.
Recently, a few tweets of mine have been gaining popularity, and some have even gotten attention from famous people on Twitter. Social media platforms like Twitter have given me and so many other teenagers a lot of power. So now, with all of these ways to have our voices heard, I think that teenagers should be empowered to use that freedom for good. People need to start listening to what the youth has to say and understand that so much good can come from this opportunity if we are encouraged and accepted online and offline.