Effects of Facebook on Teenagers: Positive and Negative
Psychological Effects of Facebook on Teenagers and its Overuse
As if parents did not already have enough to worry about, now they need to worry about their children displaying negative psychological effects from overusing Facebook and other social networking sites.
New research revealed August 2011 by Dr. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, makes it official what some parents already suspected -- our kids are getting sort of screwed up when they spend too much time on Facebook.
On a more upbeat note, the study also showed a few unexpected benefits of social networking online.
Negative Psychological Effects
Thus far, Rosen has made a 25-year career out of studying the influences technology has on people. His latest research, which examines teens and Facebook, was conducted using 1,000 teen surveys and observation of 300 teens actively studying. It concluded that multiple negative psychological effects could result from spending too much time on Facebook and other social media sites.
Negative effects include:
- Teens who use Facebook frequently may become narcissistic. If you are not already familiar with that term, dictionary.com describes narcissism as an, "inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity." Most likely these are not the character traits you desire for your child.
- Teens who have a strong Facebook presence may display psychological disorders, such as anti-social behaviors, and mania & aggressive tendencies. An anti-social child often does not consider the effects their actions have on others. This can be quite dangerous, especially during the already-volatile teen years. Perhaps this should be termed the anti social media effect.
- The Facebook effect is real, but teens who "overdose" on technology daily, and this includes video games, have higher absenteeism from school and are more likely to get stomach aches, have sleep issues, and feel more anxious and depressed.
Negative Impact on Education
Although this pretty much goes without saying, being connected to technology on an ongoing basis can seriously impact a teen's and young adult's education. The negative educational impacts of regularly checking Facebook during Rosen's 15-minute observation of kids during study time revealed the following:
- Middle and high school students, as well as college students, who checked their Facebook once during the 15-minute study time had lower test grades. Perhaps this is similar to being a distracted driver.
- Those students who checked their Facebook most often also had the lowest rates of reading retention. This probably is not too surprising, but now it is a proven fact, in case you need to tell your kids.
On a happier note, there were a few benefits to Facebook use, including:
- Development of a "virtual" empathy which actually affected friends' moods positively, and caused teens to be more empathetic in their everyday lives, as well. It seems that encouraging comments online can put a smile on someone's face and improve moods.
- Facebook and other social networking sites give shy children a way to socialize which might otherwise be lacking altogether. Hopefully, this virtual training ground can extend into actual face-to-face interactions.
- Use of Facebook may impact self-esteem in a positive way and allow children to develop their self-identity. Choosing a profile photo, listing likes & dislikes, favorites of this-and-that, quotations, and the like, all "force" your child to become more self-aware.
What Can a Parent Do?
- Do not use monitoring software at all. Rosen explains that your kids will immediately find a work-around and it can undermine the parent-child relationship.
- Talk to your kids about acceptable technology use and build a trusting relationship. Rosen rightly believes that communication is central to good parenting and that the communication ratio should be 1 part parent talking to 5 parts parent listening.
- With your child by your side, create a technology contract. Be sure to include things like allotted tech breaks while studying. The contract may also include removing all technology devices from the bedroom at night.
Dr. Rosen's insights into the psychological and educational effects of Facebook, other technologies, and media on children is invaluable. Perhaps attentive parents have already noticed these impacts and have taken action.
But, for those that have not, it is time to wake up to the consequences that social media & technological devices and their overuse can have on our children and combat it.
Sources & Other Informative Reading
- Kids Who Use Facebook Do Worse in School TIME Healthland
That Facebook is hugely distracting is hardly stop-the-presses kind of news, but parents might be dismayed to learn that the social-media site can hobble learning and make kids less healthy and more depressed.
- Facebook tied to poor mental health in teens: What parents must know - HealthPop - CBS News
Researcher says social network contributes to anxiety, depression, narcissism, antisocial behavior Read more by Ryan Jaslow on CBS News' HealthPop.