Social networking is a recent internet based platform invented to build social relations among people, bring every kind of social group together in one place and let them interact. Although internet is by no doubt an important asset for learning and research in our times, teens are spending too much time in social networking sites. Parents and teachers have come to realize this. Social networking sites have changed our culture. Since its inception in 2004, Facebook by no secret has given us a way to get connected and stay connected, unfortunately serious amount of time is wasted clicking from a page to the other page and toggling between pictures. Social networking has become a really big phenomenon because of its popularity. However, everything about social networking lies in its benefits and non-benefits for the people.
For years, parents worried about the advancement of social networking, its long term impact on their kids as well as our culture. Furthermore, the positive and negative effects on teenagers as well as young adults by the sites have started to show though long term impact is still unknown. This cohort has grown even matured with social networking sites alongside them best example being Facebook. What we can see surely is that these sites are interfering with the adolescents life including the parent-child relationship, their education and development. It is good to use Internet to do research, news, and entertain ourselves. Almost every home has internet and web is valuably used for research and learning. Unfortunately, this could be a dangerous zone for teenagers, since chat rooms, instant messaging and online played video games in sites like Myspace considerably interfere with younger teens educational and social development.
Web is a great place for learning but it has potential risks and dangers. In August 2011, Dr. Larry Rosen presented his research on the effects of Facebook at the APA 119th Convention which he entitled "Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids." Dr. Rosen has researched the psychology of technology and is a professor of psychology at California State University.
Social networking sites have over the years been blamed for "hijacking childhood." While this accusation has some truths, the impact of social sites has not been all negative. A few youngsters who may otherwise be withdrawn, have confided in the ability to empathize with others behind the safety of their smartphones and computers. Dr. Rosen's research stated "Youth who are able to express more virtual empathy are able to express more real-world empathy. They feel more supported socially by online and offline networks."
The same research found that students from middle school through to college who visited social networking sites at least once during a fifteen-minute study period would achieve lower grades. The students Rosen studied were off task every three minutes of a fifteen minute session of studying something important. He also discovered that more windows were opened on the student's computer as time elapsed. At nine to ten minutes the number of windows went to maximum and on-task went to minimum at the same rate. Students performed better when they stayed on task, likewise they performed worse when they switched between windows and the other tasks. The students became worse as the consumed more media.
Teenage years are the best time to experience new thins and meet new people. Online networks and connections cannot equal the benefits that one will get from social gatherings and getting outside to have a good time with friend. Social networking limits a persons options when in communication. Most lessons and growth for a teen comes through friendships, fights, trends and popularity. These sites have provided an easy option to run away from the pressures their age group and instead hide indoors.
Dr. Rosen discovered that there is development of narcissistic tendencies in teens who often log on. However, it was not clear whether narcissistic teens are drawn to these sites or the sites made teens narcissistic. Teens and young adults who overused social media were found to be prone to psychological disorders, such as anti-social behaviors, mania, and aggressive tendencies. Social networking sites often make it seem like social networking and online gaming are accepted to substitute for real life. Teens who might be complete outcasts in school can find acceptance in message boards and chat rooms. It is easier for teenagers to opt for a seemingly relaxed environment in social networks and deny the idea of risking rejection interacting with their peers. Social networking dependency also inherently promotes. Many teens so gripped in games or chats that they cannot be got off the computer promoting a lifestyle that is not conducive to exercise and physical activity. Social networks provide entertainment that defeats exercising and physical activity. A child should be introduced to exercising and physical activity earlier to avoid amusements such as video games and internet. Social networking can cause teenagers to withdraw from outside activities spending too much time online that really deter teens educational and social development.
The social networkings world always has something new to offer. It becomes easier to depend on social networks as they become tailored to an individual. This mostly affects teens since they tend to be easily enticed by the popularity of social networks and easily carried away by flashy graphics. "Internet addiction" as a medical condition was introduced in the late 1990s, the majority of medical professionals have dismissed it and believe that excessive time spent in sites is, in fact, an indicator for a larger, more dangerous mental disorder like depression. Others argue solitary behavior can lead to growth in levels of diseases like depression, anxiety, self-consciousness and obesity. Teens are at times not well equipped to handle certain situations that need a degree of reason and rationality. Despite their good intentions, they might be at risk of stumbling across inappropriate or even dangerous content. Children in chat rooms may fall in the wrong hands and chat with people looking for more than just a conversation. It is not possible to predict who might be in the chat room at any given time. Some of these people it will be scaly to note are sexual predators. There is a popular TV show, To Catch a Predator, that employs someone to pose as a teen and entice sex offenders profiling the interactions between them until the actual meeting. Horrifying situations are portrayed. Human curiosity which is at its peak during ones teenage years aids teens in the process of growth and development. This provides great discoveries and maturation and is necessary for survival. However, this curiosity can also be a potentially lead questionable situations. Teenage anxiety in knowledge about topics such as sex and drugs is huge. Social networks are not capable of knowing who is using it at any given time though they may try to be savvy. News reports and daytime talk shows continue to warn parents about teen internet use, online bullying and sexual harassment issues that teens may encounter using social networking sites, and most parents of teens would admit they wonder about the kinds of messages teenagers are writing back and forth to each other on Facebook and MySpace. Addiction to social networking is a disturbing problem. In spite medical professionals having done little on the topic, more are recognizing the potential mental effects of this destructive behavior.
No doubt Internet holds tremendous potential for the youth. However, the misuse of the Internet to prey on them calls for combined efforts by legislators, families, communities and law enforcers. Some significant progress has been done to reduce online victimization of our youth, even more needs to be done. They are more prone than any other group and they require extra attention and guidance. With social networking sites, people are putting out information about their name, location, age, gender, and many other types of information that they may not want to let others know.
Most people would say be careful, but no one can be certain at any given time. With the challenge of verifying what people claim to be in social networking sites online predators are able to hide their true identities. Material posted to these sites in form of photos and text can be seen publicly even after deletion presenting a problem with over-sharing personal information leading to vulnerability to sexual or financial predators even some losing their jobs from employers finding embarrassing photos or comments. MySpace give a list of registered sex offenders in its site and 90000 of them were identified. Facebook. Sites can reveal sex offenders but they can do very little to guarantee safety since the offenders create new accounts. Social networking sites discourage face to face conversations luring people to spend more time online. Time that could be spent in productive activities is wasted. These sites are created to make money not to better peoples lives. People fail to see this. Their motive is to find the online friends, accumulate date about them and then use it to sell advertisements.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Arguments, Pro & Con. Are social networking sites good for our society? n.d. <<http://www.socialnetworking.procon.org.>>.
Britanica, Encyclopaedia. Social network. 02 September 2011. 2011. <<http://www.britannica.com.dewey.waubonsee.edu/EBchecked/topic/1335211/social-network>.
MSNBC. "To Catch a Predator." TV SHOW. www.msncbc.msn.com/id/10912603, n.d.
Resources, Youth. Research confirms social media's impact on adolescent development. 15 August 2011. 2011. <<http://www.courierpress.com/news/2011/aug/15/research-confirms-social-medias-impact-on/>>.
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