“Honestly, I sometimes truly wish that ‘tools’ such as the iPhone (or any smartphone), laptops, iPads, tablets, etc. hadn’t been invented. Sure, they’re great, incredibly useful, and fun time-killers. But the way teenagers abuse them, and turn them into mini social control rooms is frankly awful.”
At first glance, you might think this quote came from a parent or grandparent lamenting on the disadvantages of social networking and how social media has doomed today’s children. But it was written by a Seattle-area tenth grader as part of an assignment to answer the question, “How has online social networking influenced your relationships with friends and family?”
This student goes on to write, “The teenage way of life has completely changed from what it was only twenty years ago. Now, there is a dramatic decrease in face-to-face communication, which reduces our generation’s ability to interact with others on a speaking level.”
Not coincidentally, this same message was echoed by the young people interviewed in Tomorrow’s Change Makers: Reclaiming the Power of Citizenship for a New Generation. Youth engaged in their communities claim that face-to-face interactions is what motivates them to make a difference in the world.
This is a two-part article gleaned from reviewing the essays of a class of tenth graders, with their permission, of course. It is meant to generate additional discussion on the benefits and disadvantages of social networking and its effect on healthy youth development.
Below are the most discussed disadvantages of social networking according to these tenth graders, including quotes from their essays. In a similar format, you can also read reflections on the benefits of social networking in my column at Psychology Today.
10 Disadvantages of Social Networking
1. Lacks Emotional Connection
“A couple weeks ago, one of my friends and I got into a fight and she told me all of her feelings as to why she ignored me for two weeks. Assuming it would have been really hard to say it to my face, she sent me a text message. The negative side was I didn’t know if she truly felt sorry because I didn’t hear it from her. The quality of a conversation using social media is awful because you cannot sense the emotion or enthusiasm from the other person. It makes you wonder if they actually mean what they say.”
2. Gives People a License to be Hurtful
“I do think it has gotten to an extreme point where you can say things you can’t say or get away with in person.”
“I’m disappointed whenever I hear about social media being used as a way to hurt people. I wonder if this happens when the writers forget that there are real people behind the screen.”
3. Decreases Face-to-Face Communication Skills
“Computer reliance could hurt a person’s ability to have a face to face conversation by making it awkward and unusual to hear something and respond with a thoughtful message through the spoken word because of one’s dependence on a keyboard to convey a message.”
4. Conveys Inauthentic Expression of Feelings
“Social media conversations today are filled with “haha”, “LOL”, and other exclamations that are meant to represent laughter. This shorthand has become second nature and is often used when the sender is not even smiling, much less laughing, in real life. On the occasion that our “roflcopter” is actually put to use at a funny moment, we are replacing actual laughter with, in this case, a simple ten-letter acronym. According to Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford, the actual physical act of laughter, and not the abstract idea of something being funny, is what makes laughing feel so good. If we are so willing to replace the act that, honestly, we all love, with an artificial, typed representation that doesn’t even bring the same joy, what else would we be, potentially subconsciously, willing to exchange?”
5. Diminishes Understanding and Thoughtfulness
“Since the inception of social networking, the quality of conversations has dropped. I believe that people are spending so much time online that they don’t always understand the feeling, emotion and/or character of the person they are talking to. When you talk to someone through a message or even a voice, you can’t always fully understand them.”
“Social networking has ruined the thoughtfulness in basically saying hello in person. For instance, you could say hello to your friend in Germany with Facebook, chat in seconds; but what if there was no way to communicate via social networking? Well you would have to write them a letter and that is something very thoughtful.”
6. Causes Face-to-Face Interactions to Feel Disconnected
“When I see my friends on their phones and I am around them, I feel disconnected even though we are only two feet apart….. Unfortunately, sometimes friends use their phones so much that it is difficult to have an actual conversation with them. Sometimes friends can get so socially attached to something such as a blog or gaming console that they lose touch with friends, creating small gaps and holes in close friendships/relationships.”
7. Facilitates Laziness
“The new socially active era causes laziness because instead of running to your friends you can message them. Or instead of walking upstairs to notify the family of dinner, I can blog it. Social networking makes life so convenient that it creates laziness. In my opinion staying fit is important, but it is difficult to go beyond the newly developed status quo.”
“It’s really easy to spend hours doing nothing….It’s a fantastic way to waste time.”
8. Creates a Skewed Self-Image
“We tell ourselves lies about ourselves and develop something we are not. We post pictures of us looking perfect and share the good news. We never post pictures of ourselves when our dog dies, when someone we love leaves, and when we lose a job. We never share the bad news that always clouds our lives. We all develop this perfect image of ourselves and some of us actually try to rely on this imaginative thought we have of ourselves instead of staying true to who we are.”
9. Reduces Family Closeness
“Texting, Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail alienate us from our families more than we actually think it does…. When my family is spending family time together and watching a movie, in reality my brother and I are on our phones rather than actually watching the movie with our parents.”
10. Causes Distractions
“When I have my phone out, it makes me feel like nothing else is going on around me. I use social media as a way to feel popular, important, and also just to fit in. My friends and I always compare ourselves to each other, wondering who has more Facebook friends or Twitter followers. But what really ends up happening is I begin to talk less and end up relying on text for a conversation. Ever since I got a smartphone I have been distracted from everything. I watch television less, do homework less, and even spend less time with my friends and family.”
Addressing the Disadvantages of Social Networking
The disadvantages of social networking and social media will continue to be studied for decades to come. In the meantime, we already know it is a significant source of concern among privacy advocates as well as parents who worry about their children’s safety. But clearly, the disadvantages of social networking go much deeper than privacy and safety. These high school students described some of the serious drawbacks to relationships — the foundation of human development.
The disadvantages of social networking strike at the very heart of healthy youth development. In his recent book, Lightweb Darkweb: Three Reasons to Reform Social Media Before It Re-Forms Us, musician and child advocate Raffi Cavoukian provides an abundance of evidence to suggest needed reform. Using an ecological, systems framework to delve into this topic, he challenges parents, educators, and citizens, to see the connection between youth development and what he describes as a “vast sociological experiment” that may forever change human relationships.
In the coming months, I plan to interview Raffi for more details about his ideas, which I know have evolved from conversations with great thinkers and researchers around the world.
What do you think? How will we ensure the healthy growth and development of children and teens, given the known harmful effects and disadvantages of social networking?
[Read the second part of this article at Psychology Today: Millennials Reflect on Social Networking — and its benefits!]
—-A special thanks to the students who contributed their voices to this article.
Photo Credit: Ashok Tholpady
Published: June 16, 2014Tags: character strengths, cyberbullying, empathy, happiness, learning, media, moral development, parenting, positive youth development, technology
Advantages and Disadvantages of social networking sites – definitely one of the best topics to discuss with you guys. Social networking sites are kind of drugs and once you are entering into it, it’s very hard to come out. But, end of the day, what would be the outcome? Will you get some advantages from social networking sites or it will ruin your life? Here is the time, you have to think about that seriously. Almost all the people around the world having, at least, one social networking site like Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus or LinkedIn or Pinterest or Reddit or Tumblr and so on. What’s the use of those social networking sites? Through this article, I’m going to figure out some advantages and disadvantages of social networking sites. So after reading this, you will get to know why you are using social networking sites and what are the pros and cons of using social networking sites.
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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Social Networking Sites
Advantages Of Social Networking Sites
1 – Connecting the World – Just imagine, how you would be without social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Linkedin, etc. No matter if you are searching for that your school buddy, college mate, roommate, there is no easier way to connect with them than through the social networking sites. Without social networking sites, you won’t be in better relationship with your old friends and colleagues. because this is busy world and people running here and there. So they don’t have time to think about their old friends. But social networking sites do that job easily and connect this whole world in a specific place.
2 – Get to Know What Happen Around the World – This is another great advantage for everyone. Through social networking sites, people share what they know or what they see. So everyone can get to know about what happening around the world. Some people don’t want to watch the news. But they may get to know all the news via social networking sites. This Globe is large and you don’t even know what happened right next to your country. But these social networking sites help you to read and watch that hidden news around the world.
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3 – Advertising – Nowadays, business people love to work with every social networking sites especially FaceBook. Because social networking sites are the best platform for business people as they can advertise their own product here. In this current world, almost all the people using social networking sites and they often visit those sites. So it’s very easy to make your own product reach to the people via these social networking sites.
4 – Relaxation – This is another great advantage to having any social networking sites. As you all know this is the busy world. People run here and there for earning money. So they got tired at some point. So they must need a relaxation for at least some time. These social networking sites do that job perfectly. When we go through social networking sites, our mind gets some relaxation. Some video clips and images shared by your friend may make you laugh and your brain gets some relaxation.
5 – Information Sharing – There are some poets, rappers, actors, and many other talented people living around the world without knowing by everyone. For those people, social networking sites are the best platform in order to express their extraordinary talents. They have to make use of these social networking sites which bring them to get a chance from your category professionals.
6 – Organise and Participate Events – Another best advantages of social networking site is you can organize and participate events. Let’s say you are going to get married soon. In this case, you have to send the invitation card to your friends and well-wishers. But, nowadays, people create an event and share that on the social networking sites instead of sending invitation card individually.
7 – Best Source for Bloggers – Are you a blogger? Then you will know what I’m trying to say. Bloggers always love to work with almost all the social networking sites. Actually, they need backlinks, so they get genuine backlinks from social networking sites by sharing their post in it. Apart from that, bloggers normally like to have a Facebook page with their same site name. So when their Facebook page gets more followers, they will automatically get more page views of their website.
8 – Best Job Search Platform – This is another great advantage for people who looking for work opportunities. All the social networking sites are good for job search and Linkedin is the best among them. As you all know, Linkedin has more work opportunities. This social networking site arises only for people who searching work opportunities and it running very successfully.
Disadvantages Of Social Networking Sites
1 – No More Face to Face Connections – A huge advantage of the social networking sites have the reverse side effect too. It’s ridiculous. Once upon a time, we met our friends and relations face to face as much as possible. Because that’s the only way to meet them. But now things changed completely. After the rise of social networking communities, people prefer to meet their friends and relations via social networking sites. This would definitely affect the true love between two people.
2 – Lose Your Valuable Time – This is straightforward and you all know about this. When you enter into any social networking site, you will be addicted to those communities. So you definitely lose your valuable time. In early days, kids go out and play which help to build their physical activities. But, nowadays most of the kids addicted to social networking sites and they always sit in front of the laptop. So here, they lose their valuable time.
3 – You Can’t Keep Your Privacy 100% – Any of the social media networking sites has not given you 100% guarantee for your privacy. Even though they try to protect you, still there are some holes which bring your privacy out.
4 – Affect Learning Habit Of Students – Because of these social networking sites, students affect the most than others. Because they lose their interest in studying. Not only studying but also they lose their healthy activities. Social networking sites are exactly same as drugs. Once you enter into it, it’s really hard to come out from there. Some students use social networking sites all the day even in the exam times. Just imagine, how much these students affected by social networking communities.
5 – Raised of Cyber bullying and Criminal Activities – Use of social networks can expose individuals to harassment or inappropriate contact from others. Unless parents are diligent to filter the Internet content to which their families are exposed, children could be exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content. The Pew Centre, in their Cyberbullying 2010 report, states that 93 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 use the Internet. Of that, 93 percent, 63 percent of them use the Internet daily. Such high usage increases the risk of their being victims of cyber bullying or other cyber crimes.
6 – Affect Human Health – Sitting on the chair for a whole day would definitely affect the human body. Social networking sites do this job perfectly. Instead of playing outside or go to jogging/Gym or do some physical activities, you are sitting in front of the laptop. Just think, how your health would affect. This is the reason why people face more healthy issues in this current world.
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These are some of the advantages and disadvantages of social networking sites. You may know some other advantages and disadvantages of social networking sites. If so, just write down your points in the comment box below. I don’t mind to add them to this article if it’s good.
Filed Under: Pros/ConsTagged With: inspire, students