According to AllFacebook—the unofficial guide to Facebook—teenage behavior on Facebook has become increasingly, and disturbingly, more antisocial. New studies by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project report concerning effects of Facebook usage by young teenagers such as friendships ending, face to face confrontations at school, problems with parents, physical fights and bullying. Possibly the most disturbing of all is how nine out of ten teenagers have observed cruelty on social networks, or treated others that way themselves. Regardless of the age limit for a Facebook account, it has also been noticed that children thirteen and younger have been creating accounts with reported ages much, much older than their actual ages. This is to get past the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the age limit that Facebook has set in accordance with the Act…with or without their parents’ permission.
Personally, I couldn’t disagree more that Facebook has made teenagers more antisocial. Instead, Facebook (and most social networks) fosters social interactions by acting as a medium for communication. It is easier to talk with long distance family and friends, easier to coordinate events, even easier to make friends. Personally, Facebook allowed me to connect with cousins I haven’t seen in a while, even those I’ve never met! I get to see what college is like for them, talk to them if I want to, and although it’s from a distance, I’m so thankful that Facebook allows me to have this connection at all! Facebook is part of how we interact socially now, and there is no going back to the days of our grandparents when social lives were strictly face to face. While I do not condone the negative behavior and cruelty that occurs on Facebook, it is not a result of the actual social network, but of the behavior and lessons taught to the children by their parents and environment. For younger kids on Facebook, parents should act more responsibly in teaching them proper online etiquette. In addition, an age limit for any social network is probably futile. In an age ruled by technology and with a generation that has grown up on iPads, iPhones, Facebook and Twitter, limitations on how we communicate and interact through social networks is pointless.
Facebook is making the world more social, not any less so.
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