Do you think teenagers spend too much time using social media? Are you worried?
How often do you see your teenager with eyes focused downwards, thumbs flicking quickly over her or his phone?
When was the last time your son or daughter had to be dragged away from Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?
Just the Facts
Social Networking has changed the way people worldwide communicate and spend their time. Here are just a few facts to know:
- Facebook alone has more than 1.4 billion users. That’s 11% of all the people on earth.
- 22% of teenagers log onto Facebook over 10 times per day.
- 95% of teenagers 12-17 are now online.
- 73% of online adults use social networking sites.
- More than 45 million pictures are uploaded to Instagram every day.
Americans of all ages and economic levels now use social media. Indeed Facebook, which began as a social network for college students, is now a community “liked” by everyone–including middle-aged and even senior adults.
Perhaps fearing being overrun by old people, teenagers have migrated beyond Facebook to additional social networks like Twitter and Instagram.
Parents Love and Hate Social Media
Social media has gone mainstream. Even so, many adults continue to be concerned and uncomfortable about their teenagers’ online access.
In It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, author danah boyd (http://www.danah.org/), takes a look at teenagers’ use of social networking and the fears their parents may have. The blogger and Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research reminds us how vitally important communication and being social has always been for teenagers. In the 21st century, technology has expanded the possibilities and added dimensionality to teenage socialness. Teens can (and do) text a friend sitting next to them…or in another time zone. They can post a skateboarding video and share it with their friends…and the world.
The Social Lives of Networked Teens
Through dozens of interviews with teenagers, boyd explores how technology enables the development of virtual teenage group gatherings during an era when parents and society have become ever-more security conscious and fearful. She talks about the need for teens to participate in unsupervised group activities even as many teenagers spend most of their days in regulated practices, classes, and programs.
Several of the issues that can be red flags for parents are brought into focus. These include: social media addiction; or whether technology promotes bullying by peers, or predatory practices by adults.
The author also notes that the early promise of social media to potentially reduce social divisions has not been fulfilled. And boyd identifies that while teenagers may be immersed in social media, most are actually far from tech savvy. Many teens, in fact, seek privacy but don’t think to employ privacy settings. Or they fail to understand online communication etiquette, and don’t have the skills to carefully navigate a networked world.
Social Media: Talk with Your Teen
Society and teenagers have been irrevocably changed by social media. Boyd urges adults to avoid simply clamping down on teenagers’ use of the technology, or presenting only visions of a scary world. Instead, she says, parents and their children would be better served by engaging in communication about how to steer knowledgeably through the social media waters. Equally important, parents should give teenagers some alone time – even if “alone” actually means being with their networked teenaged friends.
Here are links to a couple of interviews with danah boyd:
And here’s the book on Amazon:
Want to keep up with your teenager on Social Media? We provide personaizedl and group tutoring sessions.
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