This is the sixth in a series of articles about how technology affects child growth and skill development.

Q: What are additional positive outcomes for media use with older children and teens in developing communication skills?

A: With teenagers, they can write blogs and utilize chat rooms in order to develop writing, reading and critical thinking skills. Through social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, adolescents can improve their social skills. They can increase their social and political awareness by watching the news, programs on current events and documentaries. Teens can also read about many topics online.

Teens can develop their values by observing role models in the media — television, movies and video games. Older children and teenagers can create media, such as making movies, taking photographs and creating online content. Such endeavors help older children and teens develop critical thinking, technical, social and artistic skills.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has published an article regarding social media use and its impact on children, adolescents and families. Beyond those reiterated previously, there are in-depth benefits for adolescents. The media offers chances for community involvement such as raising funds for charity and volunteering for political and philanthropic causes.

The media also offers opportunities for both individual and collective creativity for adolescents through creating and sharing artistic and musical efforts. Adolescents can benefit from ideas created on blogs, podcasts, gaming sites and videos. Adolescents can expand their online connections by communicating with those from diverse backgrounds. These relationships offer adolescents opportunities to learn tolerance and respect for other individuals.

Another in depth benefit of social media for teens is enhancing their identities and social skills. On a less intense level, teens can collaborate on homework and projects. Some programs allow students to get together outside class to work on homework assignments.

A quite different benefit of social media for adolescents is the availability of information about health. Of interest to teens is information regarding sexually transmitted diseases, symptoms of depression, and stress reduction techniques. For teenagers who have chronic conditions and disorders, there are websites for others with similar problems through which teens can establish support networks.

On a website entitled Youth Voices, there are further benefits of social media. The technology enables students to keep in touch with friends from the past regardless of time or distance. Media also allows youth to develop relationships with others they are not able to meet personally. They can share information about their respective lives.

The majority of adolescents (70 percent) get most of their news on Facebook and/or Twitter. They are much better informed about national and world events than they would be without social media. Social media also provides opportunities to establish communication connections that would otherwise not be possible.

An article published by Yahoo small business documented ways that teachers are using social media to improve the writing skills of their students. Since social media blogs and websites are public, they can be sources of encouragement for students. Teachers can encourage creativity and thinking processes in students to find new ideas using social media blogs and websites. Teachers have found that students can transfer the communication skills they learn on social media to their writing skills in school.

Teachers and students can strike a balance of social media and school. Teachers can encourage individuality in students through their writing on social media. The attainment of good skills in writing can serve as motivation to improve both social media communication and classroom communication. Teachers can monitor student usage of social media, and they feel that social media helps improve student writing.

Since the development of email in 1975, social media has produced a lot of useful techniques. With the advent of cell phones, social networking became mobile. People use mobile phones to post comments, update their status, send messages, and upload photos. To date, mobile social networking is used more than social networking by those who use pc computers.

Many social media users have reported that social networks increase their quality of life and reduce health risks. Schools are beginning to view social networking as an educational advantage. Since cell phones have made social networking more convenient to use, the number of users has increased and mobile social networking has increased.

According to statistics from a Census Bureau 1997 report, 22.2 percent of the 76 million computer users age 3 and older use the Internet and 20 percent of children who have home computers access the Internet. Social media use continues to grow.

Next week’s article will discuss aspects of technology that are both positive and negative.

Judy Caprez is professor emeritus at Fort Hays State University.