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Social Media - a Double-Edged Sword

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Social Media - a Double-Edged Sword

3 min read


This article describes the pros and cons of social media use among children and what parents can do about it.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At September 7, 2019
Reviewed AtApril 25, 2024

What do Parents Need to Know?

Children and young people born after the 1990s are growing up with social media as an integral part of their lives. People born just a generation ago did not face this onslaught from social media. Doctors regularly meet parents in clinical practice who are frustrated by social media's undue influence on their children. Many parents are bewildered by this development and feel their parenting role and authority are somehow undermined. Parents frequently say that their children spend more time on social media than interacting with the family.

What Does a Double-Edged Sword Mean?

When a situation or product has both negative and positive outcomes, it is considered a double-edged sword. Before trying out a service, event, or product, individuals must scale both known impacts. The Internet has been considered a double-edged sword as it has blurred the distance between people, information, and knowledge.

Is Social Media Good or Bad?

We must accept that social media sites have become inseparable in our lives in the last decade or two. Like handling any delicate situation, we must consider the advantages and disadvantages of social media use. Placing a blanket ban on social media is neither feasible nor advisable. The key is to help young people use it judiciously, harness the positive benefits, and prevent potentially adverse outcomes.

Pros of Social Media:

  • It helps people stay connected.

  • Networking with like-minded people, collaborating, and sharing information.

  • Develop knowledge and provide exposure to various unimaginable topics for 10 to 20 years.

  • Young people get access to the latest developments and updates in their chosen fields. Previously, the newest knowledge was predominantly acquired through library books and journals. In recent years, relevant social media feeds have helped to disseminate the latest findings in different fields.

  • It creates awareness about various social problems and helps young people empower themselves and participate in multiple campaigns. It can be a powerful tool for bringing about positive changes.

  • Young adults can learn more about educational and career opportunities relevant to their aspirations. These media platforms are valuable communication tools that have expanded their reach worldwide.

  • Social media can provide entertainment and relaxation when used judiciously.

  • It has given young people employment opportunities as influencers, helped them express their creative side, and given them an open, easy platform to showcase their talents.

Cons of Social Media:

Indiscriminate use of social media leads to increased exposure to screen time and poor sleep, which can hurt children’s normal development. Further, time spent on social media can limit the time available for educational activities. A recent study has been published in which the researchers found that social media may harm mental health in teenagers, especially girls, due to increased exposure to cyberbullying, decreased sleep, and physical activities.

  • Frequent social media use is said to be associated with greater psychological distress among users, particularly girls.

  • Exchange of inappropriate and explicit messages and images by vulnerable teenagers. Things like sexting are becoming a menace in some schools, particularly in Western countries.

  • Risk of cyberstalking and online grooming, especially by older adults posing as young people.

  • Generally, children and young people are more adept at using these platforms than their parents, which has skewed the traditional power balance away from parents. Parents in many families are less tech-savvy and depend on children to navigate social media sites, so they may find it challenging to enforce parental rules and boundaries to limit social media use.

What Can Parents Do?

  • Promote safe use of social media. Most social media platforms have minimum age restrictions, which helps prevent underage children from accessing them before they are developmentally ready to handle social media accounts. Nearly all of these services require users to be at least 13 years old, and some can sign up with their parents' permission.

  • Despite age limits, nowadays, hearing stories about social media being used by many younger children has become common. So, adequate monitoring and supervision of children's online activity is warranted.

  • Parents have to invest time to keep themselves updated on social media so that they are in a position to guide their children.

  • Limit the number of screens or gadgets available at home.

  • Place computers or laptops in common areas to minimize access.

  • Use filters to guard against inappropriate content.

  • Parents can stay connected as ‘friends’ to monitor their activities, but should not be intrusive.

  • Help young people develop a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Agree on a plan to limit the screen time (for example, 30 minutes during school days, you can be more flexible and accommodating during weekends and holidays).

  • Promote outdoor activities like walking, running, swimming, playing team sports, etc.

  • Support young people in maintaining a good sleep routine.

  • If parents are able to help their children use social media judiciously and prevent addictive behavior, it will provide a huge boost to their ability to lead productive lives.


Social media is good, but awareness of social media's pros and cons is very important. The youth in this generation sometimes take the wrong turn and get into trouble. Calling social media a double-edged sword is correct, as it has become an integral part of society. Research has shown that around 27 % of young people or children face mental health problems because of the excessive use of social media.

However, it is undeniable that social media has done so much good for society by providing easy access to information, entertainment, communication, and even employment. It is all about awareness and time spent on social media.

The new generation's and their parents' main concern is using social media effectively. Individuals should control and spend an adequate amount of time on social media; if this is not possible, they should seek help.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Does a Double-Edged Sword Mean?

A situation or product that has both negative and positive outcomes falls under the shade of double-edged swords. Often, individuals must scale both known impacts before trying out a service, event, or product. Most commonly, in the medical field, procedures and drugs are prescribed with known side effects as the positives tip the scale beyond the weight of the negativity.


Why Is the Internet Considered a Double-Edged Sword?

The Internet has been the greatest technological boon to mankind in the recent era. It has blurred the distance between people, information, and knowledge. Free and wide knowledge about anything and everything has been available on the go. On the other hand, the spread of misinformation, lies, and criticism has become rampant and remains unchecked. The Internet has also become a source of addiction and an escape from reality with significant shortcomings in the real world. Cyberbullying, fraud, and pornography also form the bulk of the negative side of the scale.


Why Is Social Media Disadvantageous?

The disadvantages of social media are:
- Reality is often far away from what is portrayed via social media.
- Addictive nature.
- Easy prey to cyberbullying, anxiety, and depression.
- Exposure to age-inappropriate content.
- Fear of missing out can affect mental health.
- The pressure of building a social media image is a concern with real-world aftermaths


How Is Social Media Beneficial?

Social media was created for its advantages. Despite being shadowed by the negativities, when properly utilized, social media can be beneficial in the following ways:
- Staying connected to family and friends all over the world.
- Easy and free access to knowledge and information.
- Easy access to banking facilities.
- Online skill development and discovery of new content.
- Social engagement for noble causes.
- Marketing for new products and services.
- Work-from-home opportunities for remote employment.


What Are the Benefits of Double-Edged Swords?

Double-edged swords literally cut both ways. It is up to the user to be careful in using and appropriately recruiting both edges in action. The double-edge benefit of social media is that even the cons can be identified easily, and appropriate remedies and regulations can be implemented. For e.g., instant negative criticism of a new product or service may be interpreted as cyberbullying, or the creator can filter through the baseless negativity to listen to the genuine concerns of the users to make changes in their offerings for the betterment.


Can Technology Be Considered a Double-Edged Sword?

Just like social media, technology is also a double-edged sword. For e.g., the same radioactive material required for medical diagnosis can be a weapon of mass destruction, and decentralized digital currency for free and easy trade of services can also be used for extortion and illegal services. It is up to the regulators and end-users how they choose to wield the sword.


What Is the Reason for the Recent Social Media Toxicity?

Social media toxicity is borne out of its design to increase engagement. Additionally, negativity tends to spread faster. The current rise in toxicity in the social media base can be attributed to faster and cheaper internet services and an exponential increase in the user base of all backgrounds.


What Are the Views on Never Posting on Social Media?

There can be two views on people never posting on social media. Either people are more secure in themselves in terms of their social well-being and do not require any external validation of their lifestyle. Otherwise, the user may be scared of the possible negativity that may be spewed over their posts. This may refrain genuine and talented creators from avoiding social media posting altogether.
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Dr. Suresh Kumar G D
Dr. Suresh Kumar G D



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