Young people and use of social networks

Social networks and young people: a combination that at present seems to have become almost inseparable. For many young people, in fact, it is very difficult to stay away from social platforms, even just for a day and the mere thought of having to deprive them can seem frightening, generating in them not a little anxiety. Despite the awareness of the multiple risks and potential dangers returned by social networks (as revealed by a survey promoted by Azzurro together with Doxa Kids, which highlights the controversial relationship between young phones and social networks), many young Italians use them equally, declaring that they are not being able to do without it. Nonetheless, these same guys admit that the presence of social media is a distraction from studying and from relational life. Social networks are certainly useful for communicating with friends and family, to find common interests: in short, a way to be in company. Thus, however, without effective control of connection times, we enter a virtual reality where each contact is likely to lose in a fantasy world, lacking the necessary human resources with people. This is due to the misperception of having many friends, who however are in reality simply strangers. Using social media in an exaggerated way, therefore, can be addictive. Among other things, false news can be spread on the internet and it often happens that you violate the identities of others by modifying and publishing them: thus, you can be a victim of cyberbullying. Many teenagers, in fact, have declared that they have been exposed, at least once, to embarrassing content online publications, with the consequent humiliation and defamation that can lead to eating disorders, anorexia, self-harm and even suicide. For many young people, social networks are a way to ask for help in case of need, for others they are just a means of expressing their ideas, for others, however, they are a way to appear by creating a false self-image. To help these young people, many governments have created protocols to support digital education and promote awareness of how to use social networks consciously. An interesting study was conducted in 2018 by Becky Worley, correspondent for ABC News, on a group of ten teenagers from Northern California, aged between 13 and 14, who were asked to eliminate their social media for a period of two weeks. The experiment produced interesting results: the mere thought of not being able to publish anything on social networks caused them a considerable feeling of discomfort, the fear of exclusion from the group and the fear of missing out on something published online. But positive results also emerged as the boys themselves declared an improvement in the quality of sleep and an increase in concentration during teaching and sports activities. It is sobering to see how social networks are able to change the behavior of young people. Here the central role of parents and the school is crucial to raise awareness among adolescents precisely to attribute the right importance to everyday life and social relationships, highlighting the importance of living one’s life in a real way, without losing precious opportunities that hardly a social is able to deliver.

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Francesca Colomba