Millennials and the effects of social media - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

The effects of social media on Millennials

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This year at MTV's Music Video Awards, the talk was not about which artist won, but Miley Cyrus' "very adult" performance on stage with Robin Thicke.

This buzz has landed Miley at the top of the music charts, a hosting gig on SNL, and one of the hottest Halloween costumes for 2013.

"I have two friends where one is being old Miley Cyrus, like the Hannah Montana days, and one being the new Miley, a little more risqué," says Auburn student, Anna Rogers.

Every year Halloween stores see costume trends that track what is popular on YouTube, trending on Twitter, and talked about on Facebook. 

"We have a lot of people who come in and say hey I saw this on TV can I make that, and we can make it," explains Party City employee, Heather Reiner.

Party City in Opelika has one of the largest selections of costumes in the area.

They say they are constantly restocking products that coincide with the year's most popular events, like the latest politicians embarrassing moment or a long anticipated movie opening.

"Recently a lot of people came in for flappers, for a roaring 20s, Great Gatsby party so we have a lot of stuff that we can accessorize with that," says Reiner.

However, the varied messages popular culture spreads via social media has some believing the millennial generation is growing up too fast and with information and messaging that goes against yesterday's morality.

"Things like YouTube are barely a decade old so this generation is really, truly showing us what social media, online communication is all about," explains Robert French, a Social Media expert and professor at Auburn University.

French wouldn't apply this belief to the entire generation, but thinks there is a link between the economic and educational level and the interest people have in popular culture.

"Miley Cyrus' escapade is a planned orchestrated on her part to change her personality in the eyes of the public," says French, "I wouldn't trust is as being sincere and genuine in any way, shape or form, but other groups will perceive it in different ways and some will perceive it as real and buy into it and others will recognize is it for what it is."

However, we can't deny these trends create a buzz and are for some business owners, real money makers.

Debra Penny, owner of Check it Out Balloons and Flowers in Auburn sells a variety of costumes during the Halloween season.

She too sees pop culture influencing trends year to year.

"Minions are still very popular from Despicable Me. We've seen lots of versions from Despicable Me. We've also has a lot of people ask for the camel from "It's hump day," says Penny.

This year, Penny has seen a demand for the various Miley Cyrus outfits in the area, but did not carry the costumes.

"It's just something that came out late in the season in all honesty and is why I didn't carry it, but it is something I  think is crossing the line."

French has not seen solid research that shows social media and popular culture has a dramatic or long-term impact on the Millennial generation's behavior, but he believes it can have influence.

"That influence can be countered by parents, teachers and others. I am not so sure social media is the danger and evil everybody wants to make it sound like. It has good aspects and it has bad aspects, like any tool, and you can use it to do good and harm"

Even though social media can consume us 24/7 parents should limit their child's exposure, take the time to check privacy settings, and be an all around good example of how you use social media on a daily basis.

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