Social Networking: Is it making you more sociable?
If you’re a high school student reading this article, chances are you have utilized some form of social networking site. According to digitalbuzzblog.com, the number of Facebook users has now reached over 500 million, which means approximately one in every thirteen people in the world have an account. This same website also claims that “71.2% of the U.S. web audience is on Facebook” (Hepburn, np). Facebook still dominates as the social networking site of choice for most teens, but Twitter is quickly gaining popularity as it has recently reached over 100 million users. Statistics for both sites show that about fifty percent of “Facebookers” and “Tweeters” are logging in daily. “Seventy percent of teens surveyed by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University admit to social networking almost every day”( 2). In the past year, mobile apps for these online socializing giants have surged in popularity. Social networking is becoming the communicator of choice, and virtually everyone is subscribing.
But what does this mean for us teens? How does all of this socializing via the internet affect how we interact with others? And how does it affect us as individuals? A lot of people are offering up answers. In August of 2011, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University released a study that showed correlations between teens who social network and substance abuse. The study found that teens who are frequently logged into sites like Facebook and Twitter are “five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to use alcohol, and twice as likely to use marijuana”(2). Furthermore, social media could possibly be damaging real life social skills. People are now learning at a young age how to express themselves online, perhaps better than how to express themselves in person. Studies have found that overuse of such sites can actually increase a teen’s chance of having problems with anxiety and depression. Social networking can also make adolescents actually feel less connected. And there’s also the sense of anonymity that teens feel while in front of a computer screen. Often teens update statuses or tweet without truly realizing at that moment that everything they put out there is in cyberspace for good.
However, this same sense of anonymity provided by social media shows to have some positive affects. Dr. Larry D. Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University was recently quoted in an article featured in The Huffington Post. Dr. Rosen said that this feeling of being somewhat anonymous can help shy teens in becoming more outgoing. Rosen’s research also points out another interesting positive of social networking: social interaction on the internet seems to promote empathy between people (Turgeon, np ). The most obvious advantage to sites like Facebook and Twitter has been their ability to make the world a much smaller place, enabling users to easily keep in touch with a large number of people, including friends and family they might not usually see.
No matter which way you look at it, social networking is here to stay. It is quickly changing the way we communicate, for better and worse.
Hepburn, Eden. “Facebook Stats and Facts for 2011.” Digitalbuzzblog.com 11 Jan. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.
Turgeon, Jordan K. “How Facebook and Social Media Affect the Minds of Generation Next.” TheHuffingtonPost.com Inc. 9 August 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.
QEV Analytics Ltd. National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents. National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. August 2011. Pgs. 2-10.