In this article Catarina Dias & Seun Oshinaike, Co-founders of Silent Secret, a social community for young people to share their thoughts, feelings, secrets, news and lifestyle by posting anonymously, explore the benefits that the internet and social media can offer young people.
The Internet is one of the most significant and remarkable inventions of all time. It has made us forget what life without it was like, once upon a time. It’s almost unthinkable to consider a world without it. Through its convenience and dependability there are a number of daily activities that it helps us do such as buying or selling things online and making friends or finding soulmates.
The internet encourages and empowers. It is a place where young people can become involved in social debates, take charge of their social networks, and work towards future career opportunities.
Potential risks and rewards of the digital world
Of course then there are the potential risks that come with it; Sharing inappropriate content, keyboard warriors, cyberbullying and so on. The digital world has a large influence over the real world, our companies as well as our lives.
It has changed our norms, the way we think, and the way we behave. The biggest example of this is Google. Remember life without Google? Back in the day people had to go to a library to look up anything, but now Google is the go to for fact checking, cute cats searching and gossip reading.
But it’s not all negative. Many organisations devote themselves to battling online safety issues, working towards a better, safer internet for young people, and there are several benefits in using the internet.
Getting entertained online
Starting with entertainment, the internet allows us to watch movies and videos, read books, play games and listen to music, all in one place. Waiting on a friend? Entertain yourself with cheeky Instagram posts and Snapchat stories. Need a break from procrastinating? Take a KitKat break watching YouTube videos. Treating yourself to a personal day? You can dine in on Netflix.
Building a good digital footprint
The internet is also brilliant for establishing an online presence, be it professional or social. Young people can showcase their creativity such as writing, film production and song making, creating an audience and potentially attracting the attention of those who can offer them opportunities to develop their skills. This can be done within the same social media platforms used to form and maintain relationships with friends andfamily.
Paying it forward with social media
In a world where we are desperate for the young generations’ input, social media is the perfect platform to raise awareness about social issues and causes. Young people are encouraged to communicate effectively in presenting themselves as well as contributing their opinions to bigger audiences.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter, like most nowadays, notoriously allow young people’s voices to reach the world on a local, national and international level. The lesson to be learnt here is that social media is offers a great opportunity capture young people’s attention.
Learning and discovering new things
The amount of information on the internet is endless, with more information than ever, just one click away. With so many search engines, accessing free advice, looking up homework answers, and finding emotional support has never been easier. Apps like Silent Secret, much like ChildLine, have simplified the process of giving and receiving help into pure peer-to-peer support, in which users are motivated to spread love and share experiences, rather than criticise.
Platforms like The Student Room, and even YouTube, are swamped with information and resources for students to use, to make their work 1 hunna (teenage language for ‘excellent’), as well as connect with students from all over the country about exam help, Parliamentary elections, pregnancy scares… take your pick.
Moral of the story is, the internet isn’t dangerous. The people using it are.
As long as we all contribute to a better environment, are conscious of the dangers, and know what to do and who to speak to about negative online experiences, the internet will continue to improve our lives.
Catarina is a co-founder of Silent Secret Ltd, promoting a safe sharing environment and encouraging positive interactions online. Catarina is young and passionate about being a voice for her generation, and is in her first year of studying Psychology and Criminology at Coventry University. Experience with working alongside ChildLine, NHS, Victim Support, You&Co, and local ward crime panels in improving and developing services provided for young people.
If you’d like more tips on how to help your child get the best out of the net take a look at these resources:
- Child-friendly apps kids will enjoy
- Social media tips for parents
- Official social media guide
- Social media networks made for kids
Image attribution: Fe Ilya Press under Creative Commons License