Explore the phenomenon: Social media as a promoter and challenger of well-being for young people
The effects of social media on well-being are individual. Social media both challenges and produces well-being. How one acts of social media matters when considered from the point of view of well-being. On social media, psychological well-being is promoted by active agency, the production of personal content and interaction, including participation in the activities and goals of a group. Peer support and encouraging positive feedback also promote well-being. On the other hand, well-being can be jeopardised by passively consuming social media.
On social media, the well-being of young people can be jeopardised by things such as bullying, hate speech, experiences of exclusion and pressures related to the creation of perfect posts. Although the artificial character and imperfections of social media are well-known by young people, making comparisons between oneself and others may be difficult to avoid.
Identity refers to a people’s understanding about themselves. It has a significant impact on a person’s well-being. Identity develops throughout one’s life, but trying to figure it out and finding one’s direction in life are some of the most important developmental processes of a young person’s life. Social media forms a meaningful environment for many young people and thus creates one central platform for building an identity. Having a digital identity may be an important part of identity.
In addition to being built in relation to other types of content, identity is formed through one’s own actions and content production. Social media also broadens the scope for finding a meaningful reference group for oneself. Identity formation on social media is often related to the groups we feel we are part of and the people we identify with on social media.
In addition to active agency, having good self-esteem is a factor that supports well-being on social media. Although self-esteem may seem like something personal, it is first and foremost a social phenomenon, just like identity. A culture of inclusion, acceptance and encouragement is essential to building a good self-esteem on social media as well. Interaction is not always easy or straightforward on digital platforms since anonymity or indirectness may stand in the way of empathy. However, everyone is able to make good conscious choices that support one’s own well-being as well as that of others on social media as well.
In the everyday school life, it is important to pay attention to measures that facilitate media literacy and identity development and thus promote the overall well-being of young individuals who are shaping their identities and self-esteem in digital environments. Conscious examination and discussions on the significance of social media support not only media literacy but also people’s understanding about the effects of digital culture on well-being.
Infographic: The hand of mental health and media (MIELI Mental Health Finland & The Finnish Society on Media Education)
Text: Rauna Rahja, Osuuskunta Dadamedia
The media landscape of children and young people keeps changing, with new phenomena following each other back-to-back. Providing pupils with tools for understanding and processing these phenomena is important. This learning package is part of Pathways to New Media Phenomena – Information and Exercise Materials Series. The series includes information and exercises for the teacher and the pupils. You can explore new phenomena in a meaningful way with the help of the How to discuss new media literacy phenomena through pedagogical means method.
CC BY 4.0