From the “Mannequin Challenge” to “the kiki challenge”, social media has been influencing the things teens and tweens do, what clothes they wear, watch and the types of videos they post. This influence is all harmless fun until the someone gets seriously injured like in “the Kylie lip challenge”, “the cinnamon challenge”, or even killed by incoming traffic as in “the kiki challenge”, or by poisoning as in the tide pod challenge.
You’d think that after all the misfortune these challenges cause, people will stop, wrong! Instead, people compile ‘fail videos’ of unfortunate events and release them to the public as ‘comedy’ on Instagram and youtube.
The worst part about these trends is you cannot tell which will go viral. And quite literally anything can go viral. Now we will have people of questionable sanity teaching our kids how to live. Just super!
Social Media Influencers are basically celebrities whose platform is social media. They have hundreds of thousands, or even millions of [often] loyal followers who do anything said influencer says.
Don’t get us wrong, we don’t think influencers are bad people, in fact, they make a healthy living from their social media. But as their name implies, their goal is to influence their followers regardless of how they choose to do so.
Statistics show that 70% of teens trust social media influencers more than traditional celebrities. 6 out of every 10 teens (60%) follow advice from influencers over conventional TV and sports celebrities.
How do Influencers affect our Teens?
1. Teaching Teens Consistency in all The Wrong Things
Not sure if it’s the influencers or FOMO which is also caused by the influencers, but now we have youngsters obsessed with snap streaks that have no particular reward but conditioning them to consistency in the unimportant things in life. Super! ?
2. Exploiting Teens For Personal Gain
People who can start trends or get teens to do things are paid lots of money for it, and studies show that influencer marketing is the fastest growing method for companies to reach customers online.
Research estimates that by 2020, the influencer marketing industry will become worth 10 billion dollars! Goodbye original thoughts from our kids, everything they do will be influenced by marketing campaigns strategically targeted at them.
3. Making Teens Buy Things They Don’t Need
Research shows tweets relating to a brand increase purchase intent (of people who didn’t intend to buy) by almost 3 times! This coupled with the fact that 40% of teens buy things just because of a Twitter post recommending it and 49% do so as a direct instruction from influencers, just means that our kids are gonna be wasting their money, and ours, on something entirely useless. Yay.
4. Their Self Esteem and Body Image
Research has confirmed that Instagram and Snapchat are the most detrimental media to teens’ health. Instagram encourages teens, especially females, to compare themselves against people on the app in terms of looks, influence, and life experiences.
It has become increasingly hard for teens to live up to the paradigm set by their social media influencers.
Somehow, being exposed to thousands of airbrushed, photoshopped, and filtered celebrities and influencers actually changes teens’ perception of their own body image. Who would have guessed? ?
5. Sleep Patterns and FOMO
This probably isn’t the first you are hearing of FOMO – The Fear of Missing Out, which is now considered harmful to mental health, but you may not have realised that this previously natural and not harmful anxiety has become fuelled by social media, thereby creating Phone Addictions (nomophobia).
Experts describe this addiction as worse than cigarettes and alcohol. This addiction is so bad that it cuts into our teens’ sleep time just so they don’t miss anything.
There are many reasons you should encourage your teen’s social media use but if that use isn’t regulated and if we are not teaching them how to balance social media and real life, they will experience a wide range of detrimental effects of social media, which are just as much as its many as the benefits.