The idea that social media platforms are defined simply by their ability to bring people together has been seen as too broad, as this would suggest that fundamentally different technologies like the telegraph and telephone are also social media. The definition is unclear, with some early researchers referring to social media as social networks or social networking services in the mid-2000s. Social Media has also been defined as forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share opinions, information, personal messages, and other multimedia content, thus bridging the gap of lack of communication between the youth or other people.
Social networking may have a positive impact on the youth by promoting a feeling of inclusion, providing greater access to more people, multimedia content and enhancing relationships. The main idea behind social media is to enhance communication with people, regardless of the physical distance between them. Since the influence of social media sites has risen, the typical youth of today has turned out to be less socially isolated and more likely to have an outgoing nature, because social networking has changed the orthodox means of interaction in public. It can provide a sense of belonging, which plays a major part in identity development.
People who are more active on social media tend to be more outgoing and interact with others online as well as in person. Being active on social media may improve communication skills, social connections and it may also help in coping up with social awkwardness.
Presently, social media platforms are being used extensively for the display of talents digitally, expression of creativity and interests. It has been a prominent and constant platform for the youth to showcase their talents and creativity, especially during this time of social distancing and lockdown.
Social comparison theory shows how people establish their personal value by comparing themselves to others. These comparisons and relative feelings of hatred and jealousy, when displayed on social media platforms can lead to the development of symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts among the youth. Depression and suicidal attempts are also evident in children or adolescents who have been cyberbullied. Cases of cyberstalking or bullying of women or children increased by 36% from 542 in 2017 to 739 in 2018, data released recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed. Extensive usage of social media applications has been correlated with a higher risk of anxiety and depression in adolescents.
While social media seems to be promising for socializing, adolescents using social media may experience loneliness and question others’ genuineness. It also significantly influences body image concerns, usually in female adolescents. Young women, who are easily influenced by the image of others, may hold themselves to unrealistic standards for their bodies because of the prevalence of digital image alteration.
Despite the ‘no nudity rule’ on most social media applications, these applications are overrun with pornography and other sexually charged images and videos that are easily accessible to the numerous users. Recent events from our own country show how the youth can exploit a person’s privacy and outraging a woman’s modesty by the mere means of social media. Due to the easy access to such forbidden content, the indulgence of youth in similar cyber crimes has been eminently increasing.