The use of gamification elements in social media can have various effects on children and young people. Reward systems and point systems can cause children and teens to become downright addicted to Likes, followers, or other rewards, and spend more and more time on social media to earn more points or rewards. If you want to read more about it, you can find more information in the Wikipedia article on “Dopamine-feedback-loop”. I already explained which gamification elements are present in social media in part 1 of this blog post.

As addressed earlier, rankings can lead to an intense competitive mindset among users, with kids and teens trying to share more content or perform more activities on the platform to achieve higher ranks. This can lead to personal stress from peer pressure, unhealthy competition, and social comparability.

The customization of avatars or emoticons can lead to children and young people identifying strongly with the platform and also becoming emotionally attached to it. This can lead to intensive use of the platform and reinforce the need to spend more and more time and attention on social media.

The use of gamification elements such as rewards, point systems, and leaderboards can influence children and adolescents’ self-esteem. If they don’t get enough likes, followers, or points, they may feel inferior or make their self-esteem dependent on recognition on social media. This can also affect their self-concept and self-perception.

The rating criteria of the services are hardly predictable, the algorithms that decide whether a video “trends” or not are a well-kept secret and can make young people feel powerless, which can have a negative impact on their sense of control. This refers to the belief that one has influence over events or is at the mercy of external circumstances. In the formation of self-confidence and self-image, such experiences play an important role.

The motivation to spend more time on social media to earn rewards or achieve higher ranks can cause children and teens to neglect other activities, such as homework, sports, real-life social interactions, or hobbies. This can have a negative impact on their physical and mental health, personality development, and social relationships.

In summary, I would like to emphasize that gamification elements in social media have a powerful effect on children and adolescents that we, as parents and educators, should be aware of. Although they can also help increase engagement and motivation on platforms, they can also have negative effects on addictive behavior, self-esteem, self-concept, and neglect of other activities, especially among young people. It is important that parents, guardians, and educators are aware and support children and teens in their use of social media and teach them to develop a healthy approach to gamification elements. These include clear rules for social media use, encouraging offline activities, promoting self-esteem and self-concept in ways other than social media, and raising awareness of the impact of gamification elements on usage behavior. By developing a critical awareness of gamification elements and promoting a balanced approach to social media, we can help ensure that children and young people develop healthy digital habits and have a positive online experience.