Social Networks such as Facebook are used by teenagers all over the world, but the effects from having a profile page online may be detrimental. Profile pages online are filled with photos, personal information, interests, and dislikes, comments from friends and other information. All of this information can cause premature opinions of all the teens associated with these pages and personal relationships could be affected. Having an online profile page is almost like a popularity contest; teenagers vie for friends, but do not realize that these profiles can cause depression, embarrassment, gossip and lies. The use of social networks can affect real life teens and their personal relationships in very adverse ways.
When a teenager creates a profile page on Facebook, their first objective is to see how many friends they can acquire. As the friend totals increase so does the popularity of the profile page owner; this is the beginning of the “unofficial” popularity contest. Photos are uploaded, statuses are typed, comments made, “likes” are displayed and friend requests are sent out; the more activity happening on the page, the more popular this teenager looks. Numbers become very important, Shalaka Gole states, “Facebook easily points out the difference between those that have a lot of “friends” and those that don’t” (1). Some teenagers take it too seriously and become almost distraught because they don’t have many friends on their list or they can become too egotistical because they have so many.
The next objective a teenager has is to post a picture known as the profile picture. The profile picture is the one that everyone sees when viewing the profile so it has to be perfect. When a teenager first posts their picture(s), they wait for comments and “likes”. Sometimes they sit and wait and sometimes they don’t get any. If they don’t, they begin to feel as though they are not liked and they think less of themselves. The teenager may think that they posted the greatest picture but others may not think so and actually write disrespectful comments. Again, there is the egotistical side where someone may get so many comments and “likes” that they think they can do anything or be in a relationship with anyone they choose.
The next aspect of Facebook is to write a status. A status can be whatever you want to say. It is the thought or thoughts that you want to share at the current moment. However, statuses can be very dangerous. As with anything, you must watch what you say. Sometimes people may not like what you have to say and may write something you don’t like in a comment and someone you want to “like” the status doesn’t. Things like these are what upset teenagers. One of the biggest mistakes with making a status is that no one knows what tone of voice you used to say what you did. Some people may think of sarcasm and laugh at something serious or be angered at something meant to be funny. But most of all, statuses start gossip.
Gossip can start with one post and move on. Someone could say something very simple and it can go from a mole hill to a mountain in very quick time. Someone could change their relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single” and as soon as that happens, all the friends of the friends of that someone know. Most of the time things get blown out of proportion. If someone posts their opinion about someone or something, the next day at school everyone is saying “Did you see what she said?” One little sentence goes a long way and that little bit of gossip can hurt someone to the point that they will spend hours trying to figure out if what they are going to say or post will cause any problems. Some teens have even deleted their accounts because of such situations.
Facebook has been known for making people “fake”. When people and teens especially make their profile, they have to include details about who they are. It goes from what music they listen to, to their favorite quotes. Because someone feels left out they could say things that aren’t true just to get attention from others. People can lie about anything on Facebook from their age and sex to their job and education. There is no verification of who you are. Teens use this to their advantage to try to feel included in conversations that they know absolutely nothing about. Sometimes, the lies that are told on Facebook actually are believed by the person telling them because it becomes that serious!
One of the biggest problems Facebook has is that anything can be said. My son about a month ago posted “Maybe the world would be better off without me” and so many people commented on it. He really was depressed but just posted for the attention reason. He wanted to know that people cared more than he thought. It caused a lot of problems with my friends and I and people became worried that my son would commit suicide or do something in that matter. His friends were scared. My friends were scared. I was scared. Certain things like that can cause problems mentioned before such as gossip and distraught.
In conclusion, the online world of Facebook can be very dangerous. It was created for good cause but gradually became a highly intense problem. Even after all the problems and stress that the site causes, it still has over 500 million daily visitors! Something about it all is attractive and almost addicting. Parents should certainly have more rules to control what goes on their teens Facebook page for the sole fact that there shouldn’t be any unnecessary drama and gossip being said in a teenager’s life.