Intro and literature review
Posted: Apr 23, 2019
Social media are computer-mediated channels that allow people to create and exchange information, videos and ideas through networking. With the advent of modern technology, social media are becoming the most commonly used means of communication especially among the youths. Several social media applications (Facebook, Twitter blogs, and YouTube) have provided an avenue where social media users interact and exchange ideas and information. The business world has not been left out in the use of social media as an avenue of communication. Majority of organizations nowadays uses the social media to boost their public relations. Majority of social media applications contain adverts from different organizations as these enterprises struggle to build their image and reputation through the media by placing their advertisements. The advertisements are highly accessible to the youths who are the majority social media users. Majority of these youths are students from different colleges and universities from all over the world.
It not all the adverts contain youth-friendly materials. Some of the materials contained in most of the adverts may have negative impacts on the youths who access them. Other adverts persuade the youths and the general audience to buy products some of which could be harmful to the health the users. Similarly, through adverts, youth are exposed to different cultures. Some of these cultures have affected the lifestyles and behaviors of the majority of the youths. For example, alcohol adverts that are becoming a common feature in the social media platforms have lured majority of the youths into alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking. These adverts are slowly turning our society into a drinking population since more than 30 percent of the youths indulge in alcoholism making alcohol the most abused drug in the United States. Similarly, a number of food adverts are running each day on the social networks. Most of these adverts convince the youths to buy particular foods that are non-nutritious but are said to be beneficial to their health. But this is not always the case. Youths have ended up adapting to unhealthy diets for this reason being prone to lifestyle diseases such as obesity and heart diseases. Scholars also believe that the online games that advertised in most of the social media platforms have affected the lives of most of the youths in the United States. These youths spend most of their free time playing these video games hence they have little or no time to engage in active activities making them more prone to these lifestyle complications.
However, not all adverts found on social media platforms have negative impacts on youths. Most of the scholars agree that the social media adverts have more advantages to students as compared the disadvantages. Most of the adverts are educative in nature. Students can use the information from these adverts to access educational materials such as books, article, and other reading materials. The students can download these materials from the links availed through the social media. In addition, students can likewise obtain information from the social media adverts that assist them in acquiring their daily needs. They can learn of the clothes and other material things that are in fashion through the social media adverts. Also, some antidrug adverts that target the youths in social media alerts them on the dangers of engaging in abusing drugs. As a result, we cannot rule out the fact that, even though, the social media adverts have negative impacts on students, their benefits by far exceed these limitations.
Different scholars have carried out studies to establish the extent of the impacts of social media adverts on the social. This study focuses on both the negative and positive effects the social media adverts has on students in the United States. With the ever growing state of technology, more youth are using the social media as a channel to disseminate information. An estimation of about 83 percent of teens above the age of 12 years is using the internet. These youths are under exposure to the impacts associated with the social media advertisements. The study aims at establishing these effects and the extent in which they have impacted on the school going youths in the United States.
The research paper tends to answer some of the questions related to social media adverts and their effects on students. Some of these questions include:
- What are the impacts of students’ interactions with advertisements in the social media in the USA?
- Do the social media adverts have more benefits as compared to the limitations of American students?
- To what extent has these impacts affected the lives of students in the United States?
Advertising on social media is being taken by most companies as the best channel through which they can reach their target markets. Most of these organizations targets the youths who are the majority social media users. These companies place their adverts on the social media channels with the hope of attracting and convincing individuals using these platforms to buy their products. According to Melton (2014) in his article `why 2014 is the year of social media advertising’, Facebook news feed and Twitter timelines are filled with adverts. It is unlike the norm by which in the recent past these contained with pictures of babies and pest political posts or vacation albums. In December 2013, Facebook launched e video ads that automatically play in the news feed. Similarly, Twitter has developed a target ads product referred to as tailored audiences that shows the users adverts that relates to the sites the users frequently visit. Other social links such as Instagram and Foursquare have also developed their techniques of incorporating ads into their sites. Advertising through the media is the cheapest means, of reaching millions of people as billions of people around the world, use social media (Melton, 2014).
However, the ads in the social media affect students in the United States both positively and negatively. Some ads found on the social media platforms may not be commercial in nature but tends to educate the public. Some of these ads are meant to counter market other products such as drugs. A study carried out by Murphy-Hoefer et al. (2010) to assess the effects of anti-tobacco messages in changing the college students’ attitude, knowledge and beliefs about tobacco use indicate that some these ads had a positive effect on students. Murphy-Hoefer (2010) argues that due to the high population of college students using the social media as a medium of communication, the social media is the best channel to post the counter-marketing campaigns.
According to Murphy-Hoefer et al. (2010) the health consequences adverts are effective in changing the attitudes, knowledge and beliefs about smoking among college students. Similarly, the study indicated that teens and young adults who had access to tobacco manipulation adverts had more negative beliefs and attitudes on how the tobacco industry conducts its business. Similarly, another study by Mathew et al. (2005) on the impacts of the truth campaign to discourage students from smoking indicated that there was a substantial decline in the number of students smoking in the United States. As a result, if organizations carrying out the anti-tobacco campaigns use the social media to place their adverts, then these ads have a positive impact on students. These ads help impact knowledge on the teens and young adults on the health consequences of smoking. The adverts have helped to reduce the number of young people engaged in tobacco smoking (Murphy-Hoefer, 2010). According to Banerjee & Greene (2007) antismoking messages passed through the social media changes the behavioral intentions of students to smoke as well as their attitude towards smoking. Social media campaigns are an effective public health strategy to prevent youth from smoking. These campaigns emphasize on a number of themes that discourage smoking by highlighting the short-term and the long term health effects of smoking. These messages are in the form of adverts and are likely to reach huge number youths that may be having an intention of smoking. In addition, social media are not only used to pass messages of cigarette anti-smoking campaigns, but also messages concerning other drugs. Education on social media and social marketing campaigns are crucial to creating awareness about drug abuse in the United States (Bonavia, 2005). Majority of school going student's abuses dr5ug such as bhang, cocaine and other stimulative substances. Several campaigns have been initiated by different organization target these groups of drugs abusers. One of the media used to reach the target group is the social media. Now and then messages persuading youths to cease from consuming these drugs are common in the social media platforms. The consequences, of indulging in these behaviors, are well laid out, and these campaigns have yielded fruits since they have changed the attitudes of many youths towards drug abuse.
In addition, the adverts on social media provide useful information to the students. Through the adverts in the social media, students can get information relating to their health, education and other aspects of life. According to an article on the UNSW website (2015), health marketers use social media to deliver health messages. The information provided by the health marketers gives the youths a chance to identify the variety of content that matches their needs and interests. The author of the article argues that health care providers have mobilized the social media technologies for individual health application. The youths can make use of the social media to for better health by following health initiatives, searching for information and activating support. The information availed by health marketer through social media adverts helps students and the youth to keep watch of their health status since they can engage with health experts over health issues. According to the author of the article, use of the social media to acquire health information is made possible because it has become a common avenue for health promotions. The youths should use the interactions with the social media to improve their personal health.
Similarly, students have educational benefits from the social media ads. Most universities and colleges use the social media to advertize their schools and the courses they offer. For this reason, students can have a chance to assess a number of colleges and the courses they offer through the social media before they make their final decision on which of the institution to join. According to Shaw (2014) universities are investing their time and money to advertize their open days and engaging with prospective students on social media in order to improve their prospectuses. Social media were the second successful marketing tool to many universities Shaw (2014) interviewed, as they use they use social network platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to engage students. Colleges and universities have adapted to a trend where they are using the social media to recruit students. The universities are developing apps that contain news and directions to their campuses; as making it easy for students to learn more about these universities and locate them. According to Shaw (2014), social media is an excellent marketing tool used to recruit students. Although universities should use it in the right way as students may not rate universities’ presence in social media as credible source of information.
The powerful advertisements on social media sites influence many adolescents and young adults thus affecting their buying habits. Cavazos-Rehg et al. (2014) carried out a study that aimed at determining the associations between the tobacco advertisements on social media and the youths' attitude and intent to smoke. They found out that youths who have watched tobacco promotion on social networks are likely to have a positive attitude towards tobacco than those who have not watched the adverts. Cavazos-Rehg et al. has the opinion that the majority of tobacco adverts are misleading, and they are meant to attract the intention of youths who usually finds themselves being victims of these traps. Not only the adverts on cigarettes that impacts negatively on youths (students) but also other adverts on other products such as alcohol. These adverts drag youths into indulging in the use of these substances thus affecting their academic life, and some have become addicts.
According to Winpenny et al. (2013) the Internet is an avenue where exposure of youths and young adults to alcohol marketing is potentially high. The effects of online market of alcohol on students depend on the quantity and the content of the exposure. Winpenny et al. (2013) argues that the highest exposure of students and the young people in general to online alcohol marketing is through the social networking sites. Although some social websites such as Facebook claim that they have age restriction mechanism on alcohol content, still youths can access these contents since the mechanisms are not there at all, or they are weak. Exposure to alcohol marketing of the social media is the primary contributor to alcohol underage consumption. Youths exposed to alcohol drinking have the likelihood to have injuries and engage in risky behaviors such as unsafe sex since alcohol is among the leading risk factor for disease burden. Winpenny et al. (2013) suggests that social media marketing may have more pronounced effects on youths as compared to traditional methods of advertising. In their study, Winpenny et al. (2013) identified several strategies used by alcohol marketers to enhance interactions between the social network users and the alcohol brand. The alcohol marketers have gone to the extent of availing additional materials such as sports information in order get the attention of the social media users.
Williams (2013) in his research tried to assess how five alcohol marketing companies used the social media to advertize found out that these ads had impacts on adolescents. Though the advertisers claimed that the adverts had age restrictions, inform of warning messages, there were no prevention on the access to these pages. As a result, school going students could easily access the pages. The adverts are in such a way that the social media users can e3ngage actively with the brands by either commenting or through mentions. Williams (2013) thinks that the interactive nature of these adverts makes them more effective as compared to the standard adverts.
In addition to alcoholism, cigarette smoking, and other drug abuse, social media adverts have contributed to the increase in the cases of obese children in the United States. In their study Nyberg, et al. (2011) ascertains that online marketing has a dominant influence on the health behaviors of American youths. Social media outlets expose children and youths to food and beverage adverts since most fast-food marketers have developed adverts that they post in the social networks for social media users to view. Majority of these social media outlets have a negative influence on food and beverage choices made by the youths. Majority of the youths in the United States have ended up developing a habit of buying these foods advertised in the social media, most of which are of low quality or are low-nutrient foods. The adaption of unhealthy eating behaviors has lead to the increase in obese youths in the United States. The readily available adverts on social media have led to these youths eating more of the advertised foods without considering their nutritional content. The high number of obese youth especially in the Latino America is as a result of unhealthy feeding behaviors caused by the extensive fast food adverts on social media. Research shows a connection between the advertisement of non-nutritious fast-food and the rate of obesity among youths.
According to American Psychological Association (2015), Most of the children below the age of 18 years cannot comprehend the persuasive intent of adverts. However, they can remember the content of adverts that they see. These adverts affect their product preference, and they end up buying the food they had seen being advertised. Similarly, the children’s' purchasing request influences the purchasing decisions of their parents. Thus, the influence the adverts have on the youths has totally affected the feeding habits in most families in the United States leading to a rapid increase in the number of children suffering from obesity. The weight-related stigma has not been left out. Weight-related concerns and body dissatisfaction are common among the children obese youths. Some of these youths are performing poorly in school; others have low esteem while others may be victims of depression or have suicidal thoughts.
Social media usage is increasing each day with the development of digital technology. Most of the students in the United States are among the vast number of social media around the globe. Due to the increasing numbers of social media users, companies, organizations, and institutions have taken this as an advantage to advertize their products. The adverts have impacted both positively and negatively on the American students. Majority of the adverts provides useful information to the students while others such as alcohol and cigarette promotions have undesired behaviors on these students. Even though, there are restrictions on the alcohol and cigarette advertisements, social media, marketers have found their way around and these ads are all over the social media. Thus, they instill positive attitudes towards these drugs to students. The federal government should enact more strict regulations to control these adverts on social media in order to save our children.
Melton (2014) Why 2014 is the Year of Social Media Advertising.
Murphy-Hoefer, R., Hyland, A., & Rivard, C. (2010). The Influence of Tobacco Counter Marketing Ads on College Students’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs. Journal Of American College Health, 58(4), 373-381
Banerjee, S. C., & Greene, K. (2007). Antismoking Initiatives: Effects of Analysis Versus Production Media Literacy Interventions on Smoking-Related Attitude, Norm, and Behavioral Intention. Health Communication, 22(1), 37-48. doi:10.1080/10410230701310281
Farrelly, M. C., Davis, K. C., Haviland, M. L., Healton, C. G., & Messeri, P. (2005). Evidence of a Dose-Response Relationship Between "truth" Antismoking Ads and Youth Smoking Prevalence, American Journal Of Public Health, 95(3), 425-431. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.049692
UNSW (2013) Using New Media Cultures to Provide Sexual Health Information for Young People.
Winpenny, Theresa M Exposure of Children and Adolescents to Alcohol Marketing on Social Media Websites.
Cavazos-Rehg, P. A., Krauss, M. J., Spitznagel, E. L., Grucza, R. A., & Bierut, L. J. (2014). Hazards of New Media: Youth’s Exposure to Tobacco Ads/Promotions. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 16(4), 437-444.
Williams C (2013) Underage youth exposed to alcohol advertising through social media.
American Psychological Association (2015) The impact of food advertising on children obesity.
Shaw C (2014)Universities are finding more creative ways to recruit students – through social media and digital campaigns, a survey finds.
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