Teens And Social Media

Teens and Social Media
Teens and Social Media

By: Alan Katzman, CEO & Founder www.socialassurity.com

Most parents remain in the dark about teens and social media and the role it is playing and will play in their children’s lives.

Teens revolve their lives around their smartphones. Smartphones are where weekend plans are made, changed, and made again; where secrets are shared and gossip is created; and where all types of social connections are made. Their social lives are displayed in high definition for their friends to view and the world to see. Fear of missing out has given rise to 24/7 connectivity, sleep texting and sleep deprivation. Their world operates from the palm of their hands and it is always open for business.

Many parents are lulled into a false sense of comfort because they see their tens on social media using Facebook and everyone on Facebook seems to be on their best behavior. The problem is most teens are no longer actively engaging on Facebook. Facebook turned decidedly uncool when parents, grandparents, teachers, principals, clergy, college admissions officers and recruiters decided to crash the party.

In the wake of the mass teen exodus from Facebook, many new social media platforms have been developed to attract teens on social media and cater to their needs and curiosities. Instagram’s photo sharing app is now the most popular teen social media platform and has spawned the selfie generation. Snapchat’s faulty promise of erasure is attracting teens in record numbers and fueling the rise of sexting. Yik Yak’s false pretense of anonymity has attracted students in droves and is now a coward’s haven for threats, racism, sexism, and cyberbullying. Tinder and Kik facilitate virtual teen hookups, all from the comfort and safety of their own bedrooms. The list of teen platforms goes on as do the stories of teen misuse and abuse.

The essential lesson for teens and their parents is that every posted word, photo, video, tag, like, tweet, follow and share builds an indelible and discoverable public record of behavior, attitude, belief and temperament. Without proper guidance and direction, teens will continue to act out online and build a less than desirable digital footprint for their future selves.

Colleges, athletic departments, and scholarship committees are now routinely looking at social media to assess the character, credibility, talent, creativity and commitment of applicants. Knowing this and fearing that their public social media activities might derail their future plans, the majority of high school students still try to hide their social media profiles to avoid this third party scrutiny (often with the blessings of their parents and school counselors).

The general misconception is that colleges use social media to find reasons to reject qualified applicants. While this may often be the final outcome, it is not their motivation. Recruiters at today’s hyper-selective colleges thirst for more meaningful information than what is offered by GPAs, SATs, resumes, essays, and personal statements. For colleges, these traditional metrics fail to deliver the needed separation when tens of thousands of highly qualified applicants are vying for a limited number of available seats.

For the applicant, social media’s importance as a personal branding platform cannot be overstated nor overlooked. When social media’s permanence and discoverability are used to convey positive experiences, skills and attributes, it provides a meaningful way for applicants to distinguish their own character, credentials and capabilities from other qualified applicants.

Parents need to be teaching their children how to get comfortable with posting about their accomplishments, extracurricular activities, community service, and special talents on social media. By doing so, they are helping their children create a nurtured transcript of their life and a living resume for the world to see. Social media is not going away and learning how to use it to properly showcase professional, academic and personal accomplishments is an imperative life skill for the 21st century. “

Alan Katzman is the founder and CEO of  www.socialassurity.com, the leading social media advisory service for admissions, career and life.”