Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. An overview of the social media world based on a highlight from Wikipedia has it that some of the popular social media platforms with over 500 million registered users include; Facebook (with its associated Facebook Messenger), Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, WeChat, Pinterest, Snapchat, Telegram, LinkedIn, YouTube, WhatsApp and many more. These social media can help advance individual’s sense of connection with real or virtual communities and can be effective communication or marketing tools for corporations, entrepreneurs and businesses in general. Despite the fact that almost everyone is connected to one or more social media platforms, the teenagers and youth have been seen to take the lead, to the extent that they even social network while in corporate settings, class or church. It is based on this observation that researchers have found out that these social sites impact the lives of our youth in the society enormously in terms of morals, behavior and even education-wise.
Twitter is a ‘microblogging’ system that permits you to send and receive short posts called tweets. Tweets can be up to 140 characters long and may include links to germane websites and resources. Statistics has it that there are over 300 million monthly active users and about 150 million daily users, who have registered Twitter accounts. Mostly mature youths engage with Twitter, as about 63% are between 35 – 65 years old. This, taking a high percentage. Youths nowadays are hell bent on engaging themselves on the social media. When it comes to Twitter, people are clearly divided. Some people detest it, others love it. Both parties are right for different reasons. Let us take a look at the pros and cons of Twitter on youths.
Taking a look at the positive impact it has to offer the youth. The Agenda Setting Theory of mass communication has it that the media tells us what to think about. The most apparent advantageous impact of Twitter on youths is the exposure to latest significant news. A source once said that “you can never get outdated on Twitter”. Which is a very true statement; because you get to see the latest news and information. It has been widely known that majority of youths find it boring and difficult listening to or watching news on TV, radio or even reading newspapers. Some would make it clear that they find it hard reading a whole lot of pages of news. But, their discovery of the nature of messages on Twitter to be short and not as labour intensive as other platforms makes them engage more with it for information. The information thereby gotten often shapes their perceptions and perspectives to various issues just as the agenda setting theory postulates.
Regarding youths who are entrepreneurs or business minded, Twitter has helped them with free publicity. Due to the fact that Twitter is a major platform for networking and a very good marketing tool, those who engage in businesses find it easy to network once they post their products and tag various influencers (using the ‘@’ symbol) as well as hashtags (using the ‘#’ symbol). Youths, having these in mind have found it easy to promote their businesses on Twitter. Youths have also discovered that Twitter is great for free speech and self-expression. They have therefore made use of this advantage which it gives. There is freedom of tweeting whatever their minds tell them to do without any form of regulations standing as a gap for them.
On Twitter, youths are exposed to job opportunities. Since it is a micro blogging platform, various organizations mostly post their first-hand information on Twitter. Youths thereby get to receive first hand news.
The first figure below depicts an example of business promotion that can be done on Twitter for an entrepreneur. The second figure is an example of information on job opportunities available.
From the figures above, RT (Retweet) helps post get to a wide range of users. Because, as the post is been retweeted by many people, in one way or the other, a wide range of people will get to see the posts.
This micro blogging platform is also an avenue for learning. This is so because, most top people as well as influencers like Femi Otedola, Frank Edoho, Dipo Awojide and many more, give business tips there. An example is a post on a Monday morning which reads: ” In your organization, learn to say, I BELIEVE we can do this; not I THINK we can do this.” With this post, a lot of business organizations will learn to breed optimistic employees and not uncertain and doubting employees. On Twitter, you see words of wisdom, unlike Instagram where you get to see more of pictures. Twitter is a sure place of learning and having a wide knowledge of things
Despite the advantages Twitter has to offer, there are still a lot of negative impacts it has had on youths. Youths engagement with Twitter has done a lot of harm as it has affected their moral lives, educational standing, mental and health systems. A source once said that “Twitter is slanderous. It is a platform full of savages…All they enjoy doing is dragging one’s reputation in the mud…”. Twitter is widely known for reputation damage. We all know it feels good to vent sometimes. But it turns out some people also enjoy reprimanding strangers on Twitter. This kind of thing happens constantly, turning the open forum into an undesirable place to be much of the time. It has damaged a lot of people’s reputation and this has led to nothing but depression. A lot of cases have been recorded about young adults who have committed suicide due to depression caused by the attitudes of other people (majorly youths) to their tweets on Twitter.
This has been an alarming issue amongst youths. This has harmed a lot of people’s careers. Once one posts something that shouldn’t be posted, it becomes a topic on the platform in question and this can in any way harm the person’s career; especially in cases where employers check social networks of those to be their employees, those negative tweets can mean disqualification and thereafter deny such person of opportunities.
From the tweet, it has been discovered that the person in question “Peruzzi”, innocently tweeted that he was a rapist not knowing the implications it would have. Unfortunately for him, in June 2020, when the issue of rape was quite rampant, his old tweet of 8 years ago was brought back to haunt him. There have been a lot of cases like this which have affected many youths’ careers and social lives.
The illustration above thereby shows the response of the victim to the slanderous statements.
Not only does Twitter dish out beneficial information to users; it has also been a source of fake news. It can be misleading. This is a platform where you see youths spreading fake but catchy news all in the name of finding ways to take the top trend on the internet. There is a popular saying that “bad news is good news”. Twitter influencers have taken charge of this as an advantage to spread fake news having the mind that humans are more attracted to bad news than they are to good news.
Another frightening issue is the rampant use of fake accounts. It is still some unemployed youths that go on Twitter defrauding other users with fake accounts. And other unemployed youths are usually victims of these tricks and deceit. Research has it that in 2019 that there were about 70 million fake Twitter accounts. This has caused a lot of young adults their money, property, jobs, and lives.
Twitter has made a negative impact on the social environment as it has become a thing of addiction to young adults. The case of addiction is mind-blowing. It has become an activity youths turn to routinely, whenever they are not occupied with something else. Spending long hours online decreases productivity amongst youths. Tweet statistics has it that 500 million tweets are sent out each day, that equates to 5.787 tweets per second. And, youths are fixed to these tweets as they drop in every second. It has as well affected their sleep patterns as youth stay up wide awake at midnights; they even pride themselves in it, calling themselves “ultra mega pro max”.
In terms of education, excessive time spent on social media, basically Twitter leads to lower grades as compared to those who do not engage in it. Because more hours with the media and away from books will degrade one’s academics.
Morally, engagement with Twitter has weakened a lot of youths moral lives. Due to the harsh lives of Twitter, youths in turn bring that harsh reality of life to their physical world thereby sabotaging their moral lives. A lot of youths find it hard to believe that the way of life on Twitter has affected their moral, educational, and social lives. Many youths are pressured by their peers into taking wrong decisions; which has affected them negatively also.
It is quite alarming that excessive engagement with the media has affected youths’ communication, through the introduction of new forms of language. Common abbreviations are; “LOL” and “TBT” (meaning Laugh Out Loud and Throwback Thursday). It sounds good as these abbreviations reduce time spent on typing and it makes typing easier, less laborious and more interesting. But the negative impact it has on youths has caused havoc. There have been cases where youths in writing application letters, made use of the various abbreviations trending in the media; and this has caused a lot of them their career.
Having examined the social media, it has been deduced that it has both positive and negative effects on youths, and humans in general. It is therefore noteworthy that the pros and cons are not limited to Twitter alone, but for the purpose of this article, Twitter was used as the case study. Twitter has caused havoc as well as done good in the lives of youths. It all depends on how they expose themselves to contents online and how they can apply discipline to their use of the social media.