Effects of Social Networking on Teens

The purpose of the social media is to keep people connected. And teens love browsing and using the social networking sites because it helps them live up to their ‘cool’ image and stay connected with friends. And in teen years, there’s nothing more boring than not being able to keep up with the latest. Today, the role of social media extends to not just 1-2 networking sites. These are the days of multiple social networks and ensuring that you have a profile on most of them.

Positive Impacts of Social Networking

It allows teenagers to broaden their horizon and explore the opportunities available beyond their physical or geographical circles. So the have friends across the globe and actually take the initiative to send grandma an email or e-card on their birthday. They even remember to make it to family events thanks to the social calendar reminder.

Another benefit is that being on the social network keeps them in loop of the current affairs. Yes, he/ she may not be sitting down with the newspapers daily but they sure know how open that news app. With social networking, they are able to gain more knowledge of general topics in diverse fields.

Helps Them Shift From Introverts To Extroverts

Personality traits make a huge shift as more and more teens learn to open up on social networks, address their ideas and thoughts over there and get to be more expressive. The result is that they are able to shift from being shy introverts towards more self-confident individuals.

However, in the case of social networking, the cons could be more than pros, if timely interference or restrictions are not implemented. Be it Twitter, Facebook, etc. teens are defying the minimum age group criteria to create online accounts and be connected. But the problem is that touching base with hundreds, if not thousands of people, on these networking sites takes a toll on your mental and physical health. They start being overburdened or pressured to live up to these fast-paced technologies.

Imagine this, the pressure of answering your peer texts, tweets or comments instantly. Here’s what happens-

Psychological Impacts - Loss of Focus

Teens keep losing their focus not only from studies and their sports curriculum but also from reality. It means that they are constantly fighting to stay ahead in who posts the first comment or gives the first like. In this process, they are entering a virtual world, which the American Psychological Association leads to impeding their sense of morality. A 2010 Pew Internet Survey shows 1 in 3 teens send 100 text messages a day, or 3000 texts a month.

Obscenity

One also witnesses an acute change of behavior in this reference. An otherwise shy boy in everyday life becomes a Casanova on the social network who’s not remotely scared of flirting with girls to the extent of making lewd comments or posting obnoxious links or images. Why? To live up to the reputation of being a cool teen!

Lack of Responsibility

Teens start losing their sense of responsibility once they are on the social media. What happens here is that they are so focused on a gadget that they are unable to see things around them. Accidents while jaywalking, checking phone for social updates while walking or even not being an active part of social events, though they are physically present - their attention is just on the phone. All in all, it is a recipe for disaster for most parents.

Cyber Bullying

When a pre-teenager or teenager uses the internet or any other form of electronic communication as a tool to harass, threaten, humiliate and torture another child; this situation is defined as cyber bullying. For this action to be cyber bullying, it is essential that a minor should be present on both ends. This means that the bully and victim should both be minor. The cyber bully and his knowledge of the source of electronic communication determine the extent of the torment that can be inflicted. The constant bullying makes the role of the victim and tormentor interchangeable because the victim will eventually become the bully as well.

Types of Cyber Bullying:

There are two different types of cyber bullying which are:

  • When the bully is in direct contact with the victim, this form of cyber bullying is defined as direct attacks.
  • Cyber bullying by proxy is the second form of cyber bullying in which the bully is using an accomplice for tormenting and torturing their victim. It is not certain that the accomplice is aware that he is playing the role of a pawn. But if an adult is part of this scheme then the term cyber bullying will no longer apply for it as it would then become cyber harassment or cyber stalking.

Physical Impacts

Don’t think that the social networking sites just mentally affect teens, the impact is rather two-fold and leads to an array of health problems.

Obesity

Like it or not, social media or networking makes you a couch potato. So engrossed are the teens in this perspective that they shake their hands off chores, moving around, etc. The result is obesity. As per research, obesity has increased drastically in the last 10 years in teenagers, with networking and the Internet taking up a chunk of their time. Not to forget all the networking games and living up to the best scores.

Poor Eyesight

All of the attention on the social network comes for a price. Your vision and concentration on the phone or the Internet is so much that your eyes take a toll. More teenagers are suffering from vision issues because of excessive time spent on social media.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is a syndrome where you get acute pain in your wrists, fingers and hands because of excessive typing on the computer or either your cell phone. Teenagers are more prone to this because they are on their developing stage. Lack of exercises, calcium and inappropriate food habits combines to be a problem for them and leads to this acute issue.

Cyber Crimes

This crime is on the rise and has been growing at a steady pace. Vulnerable teenagers fall prey to scandals and scams online, with friends on their social media or networking sites. And it is one of the worst kinds of damage that social networking could have on a teen, leading to risks of juvenile imprisonment and punishment. It has resulted in issues like date rapes, pornographic videos being shot and posted on the internet - and they spread like fire thanks to these social networks.

What can be done?

Snatching away the phone, blocking their Internet connections or restricting allowance is probably the first though on parents mind. But this is a trick that really strikes back badly! None of this is going to help your teen get away from the harms of social networking. What you need is a friendly intervention that will help them realise the cons that they refuse to see-

Create realistic rules

So you are the parent here and you have to show them who’s the boss. But in a realistic way! So no phones on the dining table, family outings or even restricted hours works.

Make them aware of cyber crimes

Talk to them like adults, help them understand the risks that are at bay if they are not careful. Provide them some real life instances. Sometimes, empathy works a lot better than authority.

Educate yourself first

Connect with them by updating yourself first. If you are aware of the latest technologies, you will be able to connect with them on a one-to-one note. And once that connection is made, chances of them listening to your advice is much higher.

Don’t deprive your teen from the benefits of social networking, just help them create a circle or boundary, where you can keep them safe not only from the criminal side, but also the physical and psychological harms.
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