The Social Networking Effect on Teenagers The social networks are to people today what the TV was to people 20-30 something years ago. Human dependence on computers and the internet has come to the point that if the social networks ceased to work, relations and social connections would falter more so in teens than in adults. Teenagers have taken to social networking to do their everyday tasks and activities like interacting with friends and family, socializing and entertainment. While this sounds convenient, it really hinders a teen’s development.
Teenagers may get hooked to these websites due to their many features and become social outcasts because they form a social life on these websites. As a result, one-on-one interaction with friends, family and even enemies are slowly phased out. To top all that off, social networking websites are haven for cyber bullies and stalkers and a playground for predators who are looking for their next target using fake profiles. Even after all these effects, critics still maintain that social networking websites are good for today’s youth because it helps them gain computer skills and improve their literacy skills.
The government needs to form a body to at least monitor the use of these social networks because these websites have the potential of leaving teenagers socially and physically inactive and expose them to other lurking dangers. People who support the use of social networking websites argue that these websites are actually beneficial for teenagers. These people assert that by spending so many hours on social networks, teenagers are gaining newer and better computer skills. That, they say, is helping them work their way towards getting a job a with a computer company.
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Even if working at a computer company is not what teens want, learning computer skills is still helpful because computers and internet are here to stay. Lauren Gerber, a journalist for PC1news. com wrote “The thing that parents don’t know is that even simply going on Facebook is teaching your teenager how to use the internet to their advantage” (11). Gerber also wrote that teenagers, by socializing on various online sites, are learning how to get along with other people (11).
Teenagers, by communicating with a wide variety of people, may be getting better at socializing with people of every race, religion and color. Marcia Clemmitt wrote a journal article called “Social Networking. ” In this article she quoted Sonia Larsen, editor of website Global Voices, saying that with online social networking “it’s more likely you will retain some degree of connection or friendship with a broader cross-sector of the population, leading to more harmonious human relations nationally and internationally” (752).
Another reason why people support the use of these websites by teenagers is that, by continuously having to read and being exposed to words, teenagers will develop good literacy skills. As teenagers get more comfortable with social networks they spend lesser and lesser time with the people around them, slowly detaching themselves from reality. Because teenagers are easily attracted to flashy objects, they get easily hooked to these websites for all the features they have to offer. Who wouldn’t want something in which people can view other people’s profiles without them ever finding out about it!
This is exactly the reason why Facebook appeals to so many people; its privacy. Teenagers may take a moment to check what’s going on, and the moment turns into an hour and the hour to several hours. The cold hard truth is that teenagers are attracted to these websites like two magnets and this causes inactivity in teens. If they get addicted to these websites they will opt to stay on the computer hours at a time, phasing out any kind of physical activity what so ever. Teens will slowly detach themselves from the real life and live their life in the virtual world.
In her article, “Wrapped Up In the Web: The Dangers of Teen Internet Addiction,” Sue Scheff, who is an author and parent advocate, wrote “The Internet has made it all too easy for teens to recoil from the pressures of adolescence and remain indoors…The lure of the web can often make it seem as though social networks and online gaming are acceptable substitutes for real life” (16). As a result of spending so very little time with actual people, teenagers lack decent social skills. Social networking websites have become a safe haven for cyber bullies and stalkers due to the privacy these sites offer.
Cyber-bullying, which one of the fastest growing problems on the internet, is the use of the Internet, cell phones and other digital technology to harass, intimidate, threaten, mock and defame. Thomas Billitteri, in his article “Cyberbullying,” reports about a statistic from the Pew Research Center: Roughly a third of teens who use the internet said they’d received threatening messages, had e-mail or text messages forwarded without consent, had an embarrassing picture posted without consent, had rumors about them spread online, or experienced some other kind of online harassment. 387) Teenagers are very susceptible to this type of bullying as it inflicts deep and painful wounds on them, more mental than physical. Teenagers and children may intentionally or unintentionally bully their peers which may cause irreparable damage as teens are susceptible to being victimized throughout the day, week, month or year. In a study published by Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin of the Cyberbullying Reasearch Center, it showed that 20 percent of 10-18 year olds were cyberbullied in their lifetime and 7. percent were cyberbullied in the past 30 days (Hinduja and Patchin). Another growing problem on these websites is stalking. Teenagers may get obsessed with an interest of theirs and the simple online profile viewing may become a case of stalking, at first online then in real life. Cyber stalking has become a serious problem today as the privacy of social networking websites allows stalkers to view anyone’s photos and videos without that person ever finding out.
It has serious psychological effects as it is more stressful and traumatizing due to its potential of being there 24/7, as Charlene Laino, a reporter for WebMD, quotes Elizabeth Carll, a psychologist, in her article "If you're harassed in school or at work, you can come home to a safe environment…If you're cyberstalked, it can be all the time, no matter where you are". Sexual predators use social networking websites to look for unsuspecting children and teenagers to try and lure them into their traps. Predators use fake profiles to get in contact with children and teenagers and then try to tempt them into meeting them.
Teenagers who are unaware may actually befriend these people and when called to meet they will go to them, unsuspecting of the trap they are walking into. Even though social networking websites have an age restriction of 13 or older joining the network, it is very easy for even a nine year old to join without so much as a hiccup. Because of this, social networking websites have become a playground for sexual predators. According to Predator Statistics, in the United States alone, “there are over 644,865 registered sex offenders…and over 100,000 are lost in the system”.
This makes allowing teenagers access to social networking websites, or even the internet, a nightmare for parents. Today, every teen’s first impulse when left at home is to go online onto a social network and check what has been going on and in the midst if they are contacted by someone pretending to be their age they are bound to allow them access to their profiles. Even with all the bad things that could happen to teens using social networking websites people still support its use for them not considering the fact that these websites might render teenagers socially and physically inactive and expose them to other lurking dangers.
No matter how much they try, parents are eventually going to end up with at least one if not all of these problems. For example, parents working full time might have to deal with a child who is so lost in the online social networking that he or she has no social life outside of it. Today, with the ever expanding technologies, people who wish to do harm will think of newer and worse ways to penetrate and destroy families which is why parents need to raise their voice over this sensitive issue. The biggest issue remains that there is still no form of entity or authority that can monitor, if not control, the use of these social websites.
The government should form a body that not only monitors the use of these websites but also keeps out people who use it as a means to harm other people. These entities should also take measures so that children and teenagers under a specified age are not allowed to access these websites what so ever. Work Cited Billitteri, Thomas J. "Cyberbullying. " CQ Researcher 2 May 2008: 385-408. Web. 21 Aug. 2011. Clemmitt, Marcia. "Social Networking. " CQ Researcher 17 Sept. 2010: 749-72. Web. 21 Aug. 2011. Gerber, Lauren. “New Discovery: Teenagers Are Actually Benefiting From Spending Too Much Time Online. ” Are Social Networking Sites Harmful?
Eds. Stefan Kiesbye. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven press, 2011. 10-12. Print. Hinduja, Sameer, and Justin Patchin. Cyberbullying Victimization. Rep. Cyberbullying Research Center, 2010. Web. 30 Aug. 2011. Laino, Charlene. “'Cyberstalking': Worse Than in-Person Harassment? ” WebMD. WebMD Health News, 8 Aug. 2011. Web. 24 Aug. 2011 “Predator Statistics. ” Internetsafety101. org. Enough Is Enough, n. d. Web. 24 Aug. 2011. Scheff, Sue. “Wrapped Up In the Web: The Dangers of Teen Internet Addiction. ” Are Social Networking Sites Harmful? Eds. Stefan Kiesbye. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven Press, 2011. 13-18. Print.
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