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Gen Z may be social media wizards, but there needs to be a balance

Campus Voice is an initiative by ThePrint where young Indians get an opportunity to express their opinions on a prevalent issue.

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A multitude of factors has been driving forces behind the endeavors of Gen Z’s social media presence. With a mix of both positive and negative implications, social media has virtually become indispensable in the lives of the generation born between 1996 and 2010. Without further ado, I would briefly analyse these fundamental manifestations, to decode and decipher the overall outcome.

The conventional opinion holds that social media is a platform for public discourse. However, bearing the interest of the youth in mind, this argument loses its very foundation. To no surprise, Gen Z craves opportunities to quench their thirst for knowledge and
productivity at all costs. Subsequently, they take to various social networking sites such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook for the fulfillment of the same. This plays an integral role in shaping their developmental prospects and creates a sense of identification in the personal realm.

The 21st century is one that is driven by tremendous changes in lifestyle paradigms. Consequently, it is an imperative necessity for young blood to adapt to these changes in order to thrive. At this crucial juncture, do we get to experience the active role of social media. Besides, providing them with the security of being at par with the rapidly changing world, it also places individuals on a firmer footing, helping them understand such a sequence of actions.

The advent of social media has remarkably streamlined the perceptions of the youth across the world, to a greater extent. Being provided with a common platform, they have been able to get a grasp of aspects of tastes, preferences and social outlook of others. This has contributed to greater diversity, in conformity with the principle of globalisation. Through meaningful content put out on social networking sites,  they foster the very spirit of the world as tight-knit community.

According to a study conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Ohio, it was seen that about 61 per cent of the members of the American Gen Z community experienced a sense of cultural compatibility and social inclusion, as a result of sustained exposure to social networking sites. Owing to their communicative advantages, Gen Z youth have significantly leveraged these social platforms to articulate their position on such aspects, thereby developing a growing consensus on the same.

Also read: Crochet, clothes, cakes – Gen Z Indians are now small business owners on Instagram

While, substantial focus has been laid on the positive by-products of social media, it is important to consider the unfavourable side as well, especially for a generation that is highly prone to the same.

While barriers in communication have been obliterated by social media, aspersions have
been cast significantly on physical proximity, especially for this proactive generation of people. Statistics marshalled by the University of People show that nearly 60 per cent of the young population preferred to restrict their daily conversations to these online platforms. Moreover members in the age bracket of 12-24 in countries like India, too fail to
understand the sanctity of actual human relationships and judge them
from a much more mechanical perspective.

At a time when issues of mental health and depression have become rampant, social networking sites such as Snapchat , Instagram, and Facebook leave no stone unturned in trying to accentuate the same, especially among those falling under the age bracket of 16-24. Studies have showed that excessive self promotion on Instagram and Snapchat,
and the fear of criticism has contributed to a larger no of mental health
cases in different parts of Europe.

Also read: The future is Generation Z, so markets are decoding the forgotten & ‘unsung’ Gen X

In India too, the scenario is no different. In 2019, it was estimated, that over 300 children commit suicide every year, due to abuse on social platforms. As per a cross sectional study conducted by Lisa Barman on undergraduate students of Kolkata, it was founded that over 90 per cent of the sample, active on such platforms experienced greater levels of
stress, and changes in attitude and behaviour, proposing an inextricable link between the two, resulting from security issues and cyber crimes. Aside from widespread reports of issues in handwriting, inability to communicate as a result of lack of lack of linguistic proficiency, and loss of concentration, due to continued engagement on the screen. Educators also complain about presence of delusions in thought processes and autistic behaviour.

It has also been observed that there has been a lack of innovation and creativity in several technical sectors. Moreover, practical ability skills and out–of–box thinking skills have taken a back seat. Scientific professions of engineering and design have seen dip in the no of youth with the requisite skills, as a result of misuse of social media.

Quite interestingly, literary potential across the world has diminished in the present scenario, owing to increased technological sway, as observed by distinguished Indian authors such as Salman Rushdie and Khushwant Singh, and spoken against the excessive screen time of the youth, leading to complete disarray.

I would want to conclude by saying that social media if used productively can with the help of the youth, change the world for the better. However, the onus is on Gen Z to understand and harness the same, for their well-being.

The author is a student at The Heritage School, Kolkata. Views are personal

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