Nowadays, social media are an integral part of children’s and young people’s everyday lives. They use platforms like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat to connect, share content, and engage with other users. But in addition to social interactions and content sharing, many social media also contain gamification elements that can influence the usage behavior of children and young people. It is important to know these, because only when you are able to identify these elements can you make an informed decision about whether to get involved. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what gamification elements are present in social media. I’ll explain what impact they have on the use of children and young people in Part 2.

Gamification is a term that is not uncritically coined and refers to the use of game-like elements in non-game contexts to encourage user engagement, motivation, and participation. Various gamification elements can be found in social media.

Many social media outlets use rewards, such as likes, followers, or comments, to motivate users to share more content or spend more time on the platform. (Usage) time is money, at least for the operators of the corresponding services.

Some social media use point systems where users can earn points by performing certain actions, such as posting, sharing stories, or participating in polls. Gamification is therefore also referred to pejoratively as “pointsification”.

Rankings show users their status compared to other users and can help increase the competitive spirit and incentive to perform more activities on the platform to achieve a higher rank. There are numerous negative examples, especially in the sales area, where employees are often placed in competition with each other in order to increase sales figures.

Who didn’t paint their pencil case and notebooks as a child, or decorate their bike to make it their own, to stand out from the rest? Many social media, apps, and games allow users to customize their avatars or emoticons to personalize their profiles. These “skins” can help increase identification with the platform and motivation to use it. The game Fortnite has perfected this and even though it is a free game, the company records billions in profits through such customizations.

I’ll be happy to tell you about the effects of all this on children and young people in Part 2.