Rabindranath Tagore opens one of his poems with these words, “Where the mind is without fear and head is held high.” But as we look around today, we find a young generation with their heads bowed down all the time. From the time of their birth they grew up with mobile phones and social media. They knew nothing better.
Now let us think about the impact of social media on youth.
First of all the impact is that of bad example. As we look at families today we find each one busy with social media; not just youngsters. See, youngsters look up to parents as their role models especially in the early stages of life. And what do they see. They find parents on social media all the time. WhatsApp and Facebook are the stuff they find joy in. And children are often neglected. No wonder they feel rejected.
Secondly, there is the impact of wrong priorities. Youth should learn that what they invest in now will yield benefits later in life. Now is the time to study and dream about a great career ahead. If that valuable time is stolen from them through social media chats, then they lose sense of priority.
Thirdly, there is the impact of wrong relationships. God has kept boundaries in life. This is for our freedom and highest good. The virtual world of social media with its ease of quick and instant communication encourages youngsters to cross boundaries. They chat on topics in private which they might not dare to talk about in front of others. This often leads youngsters to fall into relationships that promise great things. But usually they fall into traps, into blackmailing and disgrace.
Yet another impact is on health. The amount of time spent on social media creates health issues with the spine, neck, fingers, and eyes. Usually these problems show up only later in life. But then it is too late. Some youngsters spend hours chatting and also eat junk food while doing so. This leads to other health issues like obesity and diabetes which is a silent killer.
Finally there is the impact on personal safety and security. Often youngsters post selfies on social media. They reveal their travel plans and personal details like birthdays, names of parents and their work etc. These vital information can lead to blackmailing and other dangerous situation.
Let me conclude. The impact of social media on youth can be understood in the context of impact of bad example, the impact of wrong priorities, the impact of wrong relationships, the impact on health and the impact on personal safety.
Youngsters should remember that life is not without accountability. They should remember that the digital footprints they leave behind on social media are not just impacting them here a few hours but they are going to impact them for a life time.