Where there are people, there are smartphones. Where there are smartphones, social media apps abound. On my device, alone, I count at least 6 apps dedicated to social networking, some for fitness or crafting or sharing photos or simply staying connected with people I care about. Social media is everywhere -- literally -- and it’s even wiggled its way into the world of work.
Within an office setting, it’s not unusual to see people chatting with remote co-workers, sharing documents, or sending gifs via work-approved networks like Slack. Many businesses hire people specifically to use Snapchat to offer time-sensitive promotional codes, Instagram to announce big sales events, and Twitter and Facebook to attract people to their own websites. Additionally, these platforms may even be used to announce job openings so as to attract a broader range of applicants.
Social media seems to be slowly edging out society’s other forms of communication, such as talking on the phone, sending letters, emailing, and even text messaging. Many adults view this in a negative light, citing scientific evidence that indicates the use of social media leads to stress, feelings of loneliness and seclusion, and ultimately depression. Teens, on the other hand, seem less concerned with those potential side effects.
In a recent survey of 345 Ithaca teens, YES found that only 20% thought social media was adversely impacting them and/or the world around them. These teens believe the addictive nature of social media causes them to waste a lot of time. They recognize negativity, cyber bullying and body shaming, and their infinite capacity to harm unsuspecting users when a harmful post goes viral.
For the 31% of teens who strongly believe that social media is good for them, the benefits come down to an increase in their ability to communicate with followers and friends both near and far. Many teens turn to Instagram and Snapchat as a way to keep in touch with friends and family or to find humor in an otherwise unhappy world. One teen asked, “What would the world be without memes?” Another teen spoke about how her family tends to be narrow minded, and social media has opened up her world view and given her a perspective she would have never had without it.
But for all of the good feelings social media can provide, 46% of Ithaca’s teens recognize that social media is a two edged sword. Its effects come down to the user. Ideas can be spread, and the user determines their level of positivity. Social and political change can be proposed, and the user decides whether or not it is wise to be involved. With every share, each user has a chance to pitch their own ideas into the universe, and with every reaction, each user has a chance to create a more positive or negative social environment.
Here are some ways YES is planning to use social media to make the World Wide Web a slightly better place this year:
Youth Employment Service has been serving the Ithaca community for over 35 years. Our mission is to prepare teens for job success and connect them to work opportunities in the larger community. Since our program has helped so many teens throughout so many years, we thought this would be a great time to reconnect with past YES teens who have become successful, working members of their community. Keep an eye out by following us @yesithaca on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for stories about people who got their #StartWithYES.
TV YES is our YouTube channel. So far, you’ll find a few collections of application and interview tips from Snagajob, a photo montage of some of our YES teens working at their summer jobs, and a few short videos introducing our year-round staff. As the year progresses, we hope to create several career exploration videos, in which our teens interview various professionals around the community to find out what they do and what kind of training they needed to get there. Keep an eye out on out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for announcements about new videos, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu5ciEzoKxX1RgHTe6SzeWg.
Over the past four months, the YES team has been getting to know the teens of Ithaca by asking a single question to as many teens as possible. These questions have ranged from, “Have you ever had a job before?” to, “Do you think high school prepares you for the real world?” We use the data we collect to create blog posts (like what you’re reading right now!) that offer work-related tips, and we post the results on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter every two weeks. In case you’ve stumbled upon this article outside of our blog, please check it out by visiting http://yesithaca.org/blog.
Snapchat Under Construction
We did it. We got a Snapchat. So far we haven’t done anything awesome with it, but the goal is to come up with some solid snaps and stories for all who follow to see. One way we hope to use Snapchat this year is by adding up to date, teen-friendly job postings as we find out about them. To watch our Snapchat awesomeness unfold, add us -- yes14850.
Does social media have a positive impact on us and the world around us? Who knows, but at least we, here at YES, are trying our hardest to make the World Wide Web a slightly better place. Don’t forget to add, follow, and subscribe!