Surprising Ways Your Teen Benefits From Social Media

group of teens on social media

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Almost every day there are reports of cyberbullying in the news. Combine this with the fact that victims of cyberbullying often suffer significant consequences, and it is not surprising that most parents equate social media with something that is bad for kids.

And while it is important for parents to instill healthy habits surrounding social media use, including limiting and monitoring time online, it is also important to recognize that social media is not a bad thing. It only becomes a bad thing when people misuse it for bullying, public shaming, and rumor spreading. In fact, research published in 2017 shows there are numerous benefits to social media use.

Social Media Can Strengthen Friendships

There is no doubt that friendships are a key component of teen life. When kids have healthy friendships, they not only feel accepted for who they are, but they also feel more empowered and connected to the world around them. Friends also can speak truth into their lives and encourage them to explore their dreams.

What's more, research has shown that having at least one solid friendship can go a long way in preventing bullying. In fact, bullies often target teens that are alone or isolated. But teens that have a core group of friends often have a built-in layer of protection from bullying.

More than half of teens believe that social media helps their friendships. 

According to a survey by Common Sense Media, 52% of teens felt that social media improved their friendships and only 4% felt it hurt them. Additionally, the study found that nearly 30% of social media users believe that social networking makes them feel more confident and outgoing.

Social Media Is a Vehicle for Doing Good 

Whether teens are developing fundraisers or supporting an important cause, social media can help them make an impact in their communities. Some social movements have started when teens leveraged social media to build awareness for an issue.

Whether they make YouTube videos or develop Twitter campaigns, teens have more impact on the world around them because of social media. Moreover, their voices are being heard more frequently. 

Social media also exposes kids to important issues all over the world, not just those in their communities. As a result, they realize that social media is a way for them to help and support people even from far away. They can instantaneously make an impact on things like hunger in Africa, preserving the rain forest, or providing educational tools for kids without resources.

Encourage kids to use social media for more than just selfies. Show them how to use it as a tool to affect the world. Doing so also helps your teen develop kindness and gratitude.

Social Media Reduces Feelings of Isolation

While social media can make adults feel lonelier, researchers are finding the opposite may be true for teens. A study published in 2015 found that even though teens have fewer friends than teens did a decade ago, they still report feeling less lonely than their counterparts. They also report feeling less isolated. Researchers suggest that the difference is social media and technology.

As teens find their niche, they are becoming more individualistic and more extroverted and have higher self-esteem. This increased individuality makes teens more secure in existing friendships and reduces feelings of loneliness overall. This is especially true if those friendships are healthy.

This research also suggests that teens are developing stronger social skills due to social media use. As technology becomes a bigger part of everyday life, solid online communication skills are important. Through social media, teens learn how to navigate social networking sites and other methods of online communication. This makes them better communicators in an increasingly digital world.

Social Media Is a Source of Authentic Support 

Years ago, if teens were interested in a quirky subject or were grappling with who they were as a person, they often felt marginalized and alone. Today, teens can connect with others that share similar interests, desires, and concerns. This connection helps them feel validated and secure in who they are.

Another way teens are finding support is through online communities. For instance, kids struggling with issues like drug addiction and eating disorders now can find help and support online without ever having to leave their homes. This is especially helpful for teens in small communities or rural areas where resources may be limited.

Suicidal teens can even get immediate access to quality online support. One example of online support occurred when a Reddit Minecraft community talked a teen out of suicide. Aside from posting positive comments and messages, more than 50 of the users used voice conferencing to persuade the teen not to go through with it. This is a perfect example of how social media and technology can benefit teens today.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Social Media Can Build a Platform

Your teen can use social media to begin developing an online presence that can attract the attention of colleges and future employers. For instance, some teens make YouTube videos or write blog posts on topics they are passionate about.

A young teen who has a passion for reading and writing might publish book reviews or film videos with their thoughts, ideas, and comments. As their work gains traction online, they may even develop a following which could include authors, literary agents, and publishers.

Then, when this teen applies for college, they can reference their social media accounts on college applications. This work demonstrates their creativity and maturity, but also shows that she is a self-starter.

Building a platform on social media can open a lot of doors for teens and help them build a positive online reputation. It also can expose them to college scholarships, college networks, and even a future career. And it can change their perspective on social media. It's no longer just a place to post silly pictures or observe digital drama. It becomes a tool they can use to share their passions and eventually find a career path.​

Social Media Allows for Personal Expression

Digital technology is the perfect tool for channeling creativity and personal expression. Whether kids enjoy singing, writing, or acting, they can share these talents with the world around them. Kids who enjoy fashion, make-up trends, or craft projects can express themselves online. Providing this avenue of self-expression is important for teens.

Research published in 2019 shows that there is a direct connection between self-expression and self-confidence. When kids are given avenues for being authentic and true to themselves, they become content with who they are and happier overall.

By contrast, when they do not have many opportunities to express themselves or they do not know people with the same passions or interests, they begin to wonder if there is something wrong with them. They also question why they are not like everyone else.

Social Media Is a Tool for Gathering Information

Social media has become a source of information and news for many teens. Once they begin social networking, they can follow just about anyone with a social media account. From authors and athletes to celebrities, chefs, nonprofit organizations, and magazines, they are connected to all sorts of information.

Teens also can gather information about issues that impact them or their friends. For instance, if they are concerned a friend might have an eating disorder or a drug addiction, they can gather information about it. Or, if they want to learn more about a presidential election, climate change or even find new ways to eat healthily, they can do so on their social media accounts.

A Word From Verywell

Overall, social media does not have to be scary. Even though it can be exploited by bullies, instilling good digital etiquette and maintaining an open dialogue about online safety can go a long way in keeping kids safe online. As a parent, make sure you are nurturing the positive aspects of social media as well as discussing the dangers. By doing so, you will help your kids develop social media savvy, a skill that will ultimately help them in the years to come.

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Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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