The Internet poses challenges for young people, but it also provides an important source of support
Aristotle referred to humans as “social animals.” For hundreds of years, people have realized that young people must grow into healthy adults in the community. The ongoing pandemic has raised concerns about the impact of isolation on children and adolescents. Social and psychological growth.
However, although today’s young people may not be able to meet as often as they expect, they are not necessarily isolated. They have long used online communities to explore their identities and conduct social life.
They participated in the anonymous hip-hop discussion forum, the ADHD support group on Facebook, the biology class group chat on Instagram, and the comment section under popular YouTube videos. These online communities are numerous, and together they cover a wide range of topics.They also often Essential to users’ lives.However, parents, educators, and psychologists often argue that these spaces can Upset young people Even exposed to them Dangerous ideology.
With the importance of online communities for young people now more important than ever, the question of what it means to grow in online communities has been subject to stricter scrutiny.As a psychology researcher Who researches online communities, My colleagues and I have discovered that, in addition to the risk of widespread publicity, online communities can also provide young people with social and psychological support that is not available at home, at school, or in the community.
Formative but risky
Those of us who grew up in online communities know how formative these spaces are. Since I was 24, I have been online almost every day at the age of 24. I can think of several key moments in the social and psychological development of online communities.
Some of these moments are painful. For example, my cousin cheated me with his hard-working armor in the online role-playing game Runescape when I was 10 years old. Others were happy, such as my first performance on an online radio station at 12 o’clock. When DJing, many people are weird but very interesting, such as entering 18+ video chat sites chatroom Interact with my 13 year old friend and strangers all over the world.
Ultimately, the rich and evolving culture of observing and participating in online communities shaped my interest in conducting psychological research.
Although the current COVID-19-related restrictions that children are facing are new and hopefully temporary, caveat It makes sense to integrate them into online communities. Online communities have changed the basic rules of human interaction, enabling unprecedented social experiences and having an unpredictable impact on plasticity.
Public criticism, such as the 2020 documentary “Social Dilemma“, believes that social networking sites such as Instagram have distorted young users’ perceptions of reality, Cause them psychological distress. It is particularly noteworthy that young people compare themselves to the cherry success and algorithm-enhanced selfies of their peers.
The online social norms are loose due to the following reasons anonymous Or physical distance can create conditions for more people Notorious behavior In online communities: bullying, fatalistic worldview and mob mentality.In addition, online communities can promote the spread of misinformation and Extremist ideology,E.g Turn right, This is a group of far-right groups and activists scattered together, which appeared in some young users of anonymous online forums in the 2010s.
These worries have their merits, but they may underestimate the adaptability of young people and their ability to adapt to the new social environment.Online communities can also provide opportunities for young people Build social skills, Share real interaction And discover and decompose new ideas with peers around the world.
Currently, the evidence not support The idea that social media use is generally harmful to the welfare of young people.In fact, comparing yourself to the positive social media posts of others can even Increase happiness Self-improvement through motivation. However, more research is still needed to explore the benefits or harms of specific types of social media use for different young people.
To learn more about how young people find support online, my colleagues and I recently surveyed 334 members of 10 online mental health support forums.We presented our results at the Psychological Science Association 2020 Annual General Meeting. Half of the people we surveyed are under the age of 24, and 82% think their mental health is very poor or very poor.
We learned about these support forums Provide users with valuable suggestions, emotional support, sense of belonging and confirmation Not available from their face-to-face community. We have also observed that each forum’s attitudes and methods for facing mental health struggles are unique and are formed from the bottom up based on users’ first-hand experience and insights.Some users also said that these peer support communities can Hold back Users who spread pessimism or misinformation.
Many young people experiencing personal struggles turn to online communities Seek support. Some people engage in SMS group chats with close friends to vent and seek advice.Others prefer to seek help from strangers around the world in private and anonymously Support forum Like Reddit r/anxiety, There are usually more than 1,000 members online at any given time. Online, young people can avoid the social stigma that they often experience when seeking help in person, and are not restricted by geographic barriers, and can find peers with a common background or perspective.
Online communities play an important role in the lives of many young people, so they need to think carefully. The opportunities and risks they present are completely different from those in the real world, and the social challenges faced by young people online require unique knowledge to effectively manage them.Parents and mentors play a vital role in teaching young people how to be responsible and respectful Digital citizen.
However, just like communities in the real world, young people also need freedom Pursue curiosity Independent online. With the development of online communities, future generations of young people will continue to lead people to redefine the role these spaces play in their lives.