Social networking websites have been in use for more than a few years now and have been used to bring people, information, and ideas faster than ever. However teens in particular have taken to using these sites for a plethora of reasons (most of the time replacing real world reactions). “Social-networking sites are among the last unregimented environments for young people, places where they’re free to explore issues of personal and group identity. Members of such sites “write themselves into being” through their profiles…. rying out personalities and slowly coming to understand who they are and how they fit” (source 6).
These sites unfortunately also have a bad side along with the good they can do for teens. Teens are able to interact with others while at the same time define themselves and even more; sadly sometimes more is a bad thing. Overall these sites have proven to benefit and harm teens socially, emotionally, and academically. In total social networking websites have many effects on a teen’s social life. The effects can even shape his or her personal and group identities.
Many teens have found it is easier to find new “friends” and leave old ones behind because of these sites. In often times teens have a set of real world friends and a set of online “friends” that they talk to separately. This distinguishing among people has more or less tipped in favor of the online friends. This is because social networking websites are much more open and brutal against what type of people others hang out with: especially if the friends an individual knows in real life happen not to be in the online friends’ clique.
Myspace is so public and open teens have purposely excluded good friends because other people do not view them as “cool” or because they are “out of it. ” It is essentially like when someone forgets about an old friend when they got to a new school, but it’s even worse. They give up on real people they know for the fake friends they make on Myspace and other sites. Another factor that ties in with this is the type of celebrities teens look up to or idolize. Myspace has been a place for people to communicate somewhat with celebrities or famous people in general.
While this in itself is not a bad thing some industries have used social networking sites to popularize themselves much more among young adults. Teens are at a higher risk of idolizing celebrities or even porn stars by accessing and using these sites. In one instance a 14 year old girl commented “You are so gorgeous! ” to a porn actress on a webpage that was filled with highly sexual language and content. Social networking sites have made it easier for people who are underage to access too many things meant only for the “adult” world and it can be damaging to some teens. Premature exposure to pornography has the strong potential to result in a damaged child…pornography shortcircuits and “distorts the normal personality development” (14).
This can be viewed as idolizing at its worst. Even in idolizing’s lightest form many teens become the oopah-loompahs of advertising for just about anyone. Some teens have become big influencers who are used, happy, and manipulated into feeling important. They are in contact with hundreds of other teens and are easily able to pass on the trends, good or bad, to others.
However, social networking has had benefits for teens, especially in the music department. Music often has some type of impact on many teens’ lives in general and some social networking sites have made it much easier to get a hold of. Myspace is most likely the best site to find the music to define oneself on his or her webpage. Teens are able to select music that best suits them from an enormous list of songs and have them play automatically when they are or someone else is viewing their webpage. Myspace has also offered musicians and talented teens a much larger audience than ever before.
Some bands have met with great success because of word of mouth advertising over the site itself. This has good effect on the up and coming musicians. They are beginning to learn about business and can spread the music they love to make; while at the same time they are learning how to market themselves because that is what is needed to be successful in often times. As teens learn to identify themselves they often want a way to talk to their friends, but also want to be private about the matter at the same time. This has led to the creation of an E-teen language.
E-teen language can be simply broken down into a number of categories. In an attempt to keep parents unaware of what teens are talking about, or what they are doing teens have put in place 2 main types of language for use online. The first language is based on acronyms that are basically just faster ways of saying everyday common phrases. However some acronyms have been used to signal sexual activity or drug use. On many occasions some acronyms have transferred into real life where teens say them openly and do not view them as swearing when they mean the same thing.
The other most popular language to use is a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols found on the keyboard to form emoticons. This language is used the same way as the other one, and not many differences can be found. The reason for using these online languages is to just keep the adults unaware in most occasions, and even to keep other teens out of the conversations as well. Along with social effects social networking sites have been proven to have a profound effect on the emotional state of the users as well. The sites have been used for both good and bad reasons.
On many occasions only the bad effects are reported but there is actually much more to tell. The emotional effects that social networking websites have on teens vary widely and are different for most people. Most of the time the site itself does not affect teens emotionally, but rather it is the content other people put up on it. Since the site is basically an online playground, saying mean things can have just as much as an impact on a teen as if it were said face to face. There have luckily been attempts to stop this from happening and even sites built especially against this type of behavior.
However dumb it sounds or how bad it looks people need to view the internet for what it is: We must see the Internet as a new social environment in which universal adolescent issues such as identity, sexuality, and a sense of self-worth are played out in a virtual world in ways that are both new and old. Adolescents are basically co-constructing their own environments (16). The internet has become a place that teens view as same as the real world with the same effects. Ignoring the problem is only detrimental to the many teens that are affected emotionally each day by the actions other people do on social networking websites.
The support groups that are formed on websites like Myspace can be helpful but at the same time some have become twisted. Support groups on Myspace are meant for everyone who has the same problem. Some of these include everyday support groups you would expect to see. Some are for alcoholics, some are for pregnant teens, and some are for people who are addicted to drugs. These sites are a good way to keep up the morale of people going through their recovery or just keeping them hopeful as they go through their problems.
However there are types of groups that glorify illegal, disgusting, and evil things. There is a group on Myspace that supports the use of any drug that people can get their hands on. Some people who may be looking to escape from that type of lifestyle could be distracted and fall into it again because of this type of site. On top of this some sites also support the proliferation or porn and suicidal thoughts. Because some teens get wrapped up in these sites they tend to become reclusive and often act differently toward family and friends.
These “support” groups warp the views teens have of society and reality. No matter how much good a site like Myspace can do, there will always be some horrible things spawned from it. Several of the other horrible things that are spawned from social networking are unfortunately sexual predators. Sexual predators have found that social networking sites are a much easier way to target kids. Since the these sites have no true way of distinguishing the background history of their members, convicted men and women see the teens on these sites as easy prey without much chance of getting caught.
Teen are often swayed by these adults into believing and acting differently. Unfortunately they believe they have a real connection with the person, and often do not see what is happening until it is too late. Myspace has been in the news for this; however parents and authorities have been taking proactive steps to stop this. A few years back a ring of 50 sexual predators was arrested after being monitored while they were active on Myspace. The website itself has been used as bait to catch people who were otherwise thought inactive.
Because social networking sites have only text to text communication teens cannot always sense the danger they would have normally in a real world situation. The affects theses adults have on a teen’s psyche is monstrous, however at the same time classmates can inflict just as much pain in different ways. Cyber-bullying is the online form of bullying. Many adults do not see the harm it can cause, because their child could always turn the computer off. This would be nice if the bullying just stayed in one place. Many teens are no longer able to escape from bullying by going home to forget about it.
They are so connected to the computer that they have become easier targets than in the past. Bullies are just as capable of getting a hold of cell phone numbers or email addresses as the next person. Evener sadder, many people who wouldn’t be particularly mean to someone else face to face have bullied online because the internet deletes social inhibitions. Teens feel they will not be held accountable for their actions online. It gives them a false sense of security and power. Emails are much less personal, and teens do not have to be there to hear their victim’s reaction.
On top of that teens can act like nothing happened if they are confronted or blame it on “someone” else using their account. Something else that is connected to cyber-bullying is online ranting. Social networking sites have become a refuge for teens that may not have been bullied but just generally are quiet and shy. There are dedicated sites for lashing out at peers who teens have deemed “mean. ” One example was of a kid who had deluded himself into seeing his classmates as pure evil. Social networking sites have been proven to affect teens both socially and emotionally.
It would only be natural to think that because of this, teens can be affected academically as well. The academic effects of social networking websites on teens are both good and bad. The effects that are seen in a school setting are most often just a transfer of how teens are affected by the websites emotionally. Even though for many adults it would not appear so, Myspace and other websites like it have transferred some good skills to their users. The skills may not be purely academic but they are needed in many career situations nowadays.
In order to truly be a unique member of Myspace many teens customize their web-pages. The way in which this is done is by manipulating the HTML code that basically structures what the page is made up of. Learning the code is something that is done by most Myspacers and is a valuable tool for the creation and upkeep of basic websites. Another skill that people learn through social networking sites is the ability to maintain a personal profile while staying in contact with people and keeping those people’s information up to date. This management skill, if transferred to a school setting, can be very beneficial.
These computer skills are needed a lot of the time in this day and age. However, some social networks have also taught teens some basic marketing skills as well. These skills especially help teens when they do fundraisers. Knowing how to get something to sell is usually important when something costs more than the buyer thinks it should. The Mooney Calendar Sale is a perfect example of that. The people who are the top sellers not only have their family buy off of them, but they also go to people they know would buy them: Mooney graduates, alumni, and even teachers.
Many people know how to sell stuff because they already in one way or another sell themselves online to the entire site’s population. Social networks have not only taught computer and marketing skills to teens, but they have also been places for teens to meet to do homework or study when they cannot physically be together. Although it is a rarity to hear about it, about 40% of Myspace users have used the site in order to complete homework, or to study for exams together.
The reasons teens gave for using the site was so that they would not tie up the phone line at home, or use all their minutes and texts on their cell phones. With the ability for more than one person to view a webpage and comment on it at a time Myspace can even be considered a mini Greek forum. On top of that some schools have begun using the website as a way to keep students up to date with their assignments. Teachers have started some web pages of their own with full week schedules of what they plan to teach. The effect Myspace has academically on teens is often produced through how they use it themselves.
It has been shown that when it is used properly good results can be expected to appear. However it can be just as detrimental to the student academically if students use it the wrong way. Myspace and other sites have for some teens been extremely addicting. For some teens going online can be just as addicting as drugs. It has evolved into a habitual need for some teens to check to see what is going on in the world when they can simply talk to the people they know. In fact those teens had actually felt horrible that they were unable to go on the sites.
Teens often also use Myspace or other sites far beyond what their parents want them to use it. There is always the excuse “5 more minutes! ” just to get something unnecessary done. A few teenagers have even stayed up all night on the computer without doing homework – this has of course affected how they can perform mentally and physically. Teenagers have used it to replace their social lives as well. “First thing when I get home, I check my Myspace…I honestly think that if Myspace weren’t around, I wouldn’t have a social life” (16).
It is a sad thing when a teenager only thinks about his or her site when they are at school. In the end social networking sites are too time-consuming for teenagers to be able to excel in school. The creation and maintaining of an online profile takes too much time out of a teenager’s life. Social networking sites are able to have both good and bad effects on how teenagers perform in school. Throughout this new online age there have been questions about the true worth of social networking websites, particularly about Myspace. om. While there has been want for its destruction, and glorification of its use, Myspace itself is a neutral entity. People, adults and teenagers alike, have used it constructively and destructively. The site has had an effect on teens, but no more of an affect than the internet itself. It is a place where all the bad things that happen can be condensed and made easy to see for the public eye. In conclusion it is the people who use the site and the site itself that affects teenagers socially, emotionally, and academically.