Social Media on Youths

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The potential of social media is vast and wide-reaching, hence this paper believes that its impact on youths brings about more benefits than drawbacks.

Social media has heralded a new wave of learning, by increasing flows of information in more accessible forms to users.

SOCIAL: Broadening of networks/mindsets and greater communication skills

Youths seek to derive entertainment and information on their hobbies- such as music, gaming and fashion. From instant messaging on platforms such as MSN Messenger to social networking sites like Friendster, MySpace and Facebook and even virtual worlds like SecondLife and Habbo, communities of like-minded individuals aggregate and forge strong bonds which are equally, if not more long-lasting than real-life relationships. Bloggers are known to come together at major blogging conferences like the Bloggers SG conference held in recent years to broaden their scope of contacts and exchange ideas. With a variety of opinions on various issues, one's world view is no longer myopic and one's mindset is more open to new ideas. Undoubtedly, with the proliferation in the number of such channels of information, youths will be able to develop and enhance their communication and social skills


POLITICAL: Increasing political awareness and participation in civil society

Social media is a vital source of alternative news and expression and rather distinct from mainstream media. It is also a hotbed for fruitful debate on sensitive political issues which  may not make the headlines in the state-controlled press. Youths would be able to engage in these discussions and increase their awareness of political issues.

Besides, the establishment of Reach, the Singapore government's online feedback unit on Facebook, youths are enabled to have a say in issues of concern and learn about government policies, thus developing the necessary attitudes as responsible democratic citizens.

Various worthy causes in virtual worlds and Facebook- advocating human rights, stopping exploitation of foreign workers and ways to mitigate the effects of global warming etc, are forming the new 'e-civil society' where youths are increasingly a part of.


ECONOMIC: Opportunities for entrepreneurship

In the case of niche products like fashion and handicraft, youths who have similar interests often harness social media to start their businesses. This is because of the presence of a critical mass of customers, which would be able to support their fledging startups. Examples include blog shops which sell imported clothes and accessories on LiveJournal.

By engaging social media to spread awareness of their businesses, youths inevitably acquire invaluable skills which include marketing skills, among others.