While social media helps people stay in touch with loved ones, find emotional support, and get up-to-the-minute information, it can also create problems. In social contexts where virtually everyone lifestreams, social media brings its own set of anxieties and difficulties, which emerge without clear methods of handling them. While the use of Twitter or Instagram should be a matter of personal choice, people often feel pressure to participate in networked public life; they fear being left out, or even that their career may be compromised without visibility. We live in a world where, for the first time, everyday people can commandeer the huge audiences once available only to politicians and celebrities. Celebrating social technologies uncritically, or condemning them piecemeal, does us a disservice. Instead, we must recognize both the great opportunities and new challenges brought forth by these new tools.
That fear of being left out is particularly acute for kids. The sooner we parents and educators start figuring out the “clear methods” for dealing with the new pressures that social online media brings the better.