How Social Media Is Changing Teen Culture

There is no doubt that social media has had a major impact on shaping teen culture. It is the lifeblood of how the majority of teens today socialize.

While the number of snap streaks or likes and follows may feel foreign to us, it is the new normal for how social status is determined for many teens. Understanding the dynamics at play will help parents to connect with their teens and provide support when needed.  

Here are some of the major issues that arise in the new social media frontier:

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Face-to-Face Communication is on the Decline.  

The social winds have majorly shifted since 2012, and some argue that social media as an outlet for teens to socialize has replaced going to the mall. According to Common Sense Media’s 2018 study, Social Media, Social Lives, teens now prefer texting to spending time together in-person.

One hypothesis behind this shift is that when friends are hanging out, they’re not offering their undivided attention, which can result in feelings of alienation. The majority of teens say they don’t put their phones away when with friends, and 44% cite their frustration over this. One can understand how this dynamic can erode the enjoyment of being together, and this can even start in the tween years. 

Research continues to document that face-to-face interaction results in higher quality connections, and is the best way to read and express emotion. When teens spend an inordinate amount of time on digital devices, the brain isn’t able to identify and connect actions and words with emotions as easily. This has triggered concern that overuse of social media may stilt our teens’ ability to feel empathy. 

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Friend Etiquette

The pressure of social reciprocity keeps teens checking social media frequently to make sure they don’t miss their friends’ latest posts. Teens can feel pressured to like or comment on every friend’s post–failing to show social support can be construed as rude, especially when liking some friends’ posts, but not others. 72% of teens feel obligated to respond immediately.

Teens’ feelings can be hurt when they see posts of their friends having fun, but they were not included. Many don’t realize the impact that ‘their fun’ can have on others.

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The New Dating Dynamic

Sexting has become a regular part of teen culture, now that one in four teens has received a sext message and one in seven has sent one. Teen girls can face intense pressure to share ‘nudes’ in exchange for promises of affection and discretion. Most teens do not understand that taking and transmitting sexual pictures of themselves and other minors can constitute child pornography, a serious crime with serious repercussions.  

Social media has introduced a whole new dimension to dating relationships. Problems can arise if your love interest routinely neglects or doesn’t show support for your posts by liking or commenting on them. There is also a full spectrum of further inferences one can now make to gauge the level of interest: what is the quality of the response, what is the actual response time and how frequently is communication initiated?

Another layer of complication involves ghosting–when someone you’ve been communicating with or casually dating suddenly disappears, blocking all communication without any explanation. There’s also the issue of stalking, when someone’s interested in you, but following your posts too closely. And  just as confusing is, ‘orbiting’ when someone is still engaging with your posts but has otherwise cut off communication.

Dating was never easy, but how much more complicated it has become!

Congratulations on completing Trip 1! Now that you’ve gotten up to speed on Social Media, Trip 2 will guide you through our Tools to Strike a Balance. Trip 3 provides a in-depth look at the major social media platforms, along with our recommendations for privacy settings and how to monitor social media activity if that is your objective. We’re here to answer questions at any point–you can always just Text Us!, or reach us through iConcierge Services.

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