The latest study about social networking and kids in the digital age was recently presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association last weekend. Titled “Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids,” the study findings were shared by Larry Rosen, a social media researcher from California State University. Rosen addressed both positive and negative aspects of Facebook, and stated that “While nobody can deny that Facebook has altered the landscape of social interaction, particularly among young people, we are just now starting to see psychological research demonstrating both the positives and negatives.”
The negatives that Rosen refers to are that constant social networking activity can lead to narcissistic tendencies, antisocial behaviors, anxiety and depression. Frequent time spent online can also cause distractions that lead to poor academic performance. Positive effects Rosen pointed out were that shy or introverted kids can learn how to socialize more easily online and social networks can provide teaching tools that engage students in a more compelling way. Teens are also learning better at showing “virtual empathy,” or expressing concern online for peers who may be dealing with personal issues or insecurities.
So while there are clear advantages and disadvantages to the frequent use of social networks, what parents should really pay attention to are any new trends and how to best talk to their kids about both the good and bad aspects of social networking. As Rosen said in his presentation, “Communication is the crux of parenting. You need to talk to your kids, or rather, listen to them. The ratio of parent listen to parent talk should be at least five-to-one. Talk one minute and listen for five.”
Do you think the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to how Facebook affects kids?