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Social Networking Addiction Amongst Teenagers by Priyanka ,  Jul 28, 2013

There are many potential problems with social networking sites and the teenagers that use them. Social networking online involves using Web sites to share information with others and connect with them by creating a profile that may include a personal Web page and a blog. Social networking sites allow users to add friends, send messages and comment on others' profile pages.

It is also one of the most popular Internet activities among teenagers. Recent research from the Pew Internet Project suggests that 93% of Americans from ages 12 to 17 use the Internet, and 55% of those teens use social networks. While most of this online interaction is just for fun, there are dangers that parents and teens

Popular Social Networking SitesAccording to the Pew Internet Project, MySpace is the most dominant social network among teens, used by 85% of teenagers who use social networks. MySpace allows users almost unlimited flexibility to create and customize their profile pages, and to share their own content or that of others, including music, videos and writing. Many MySpace users register with aliases.

The next most popular social networking site among teenagers is Facebook, which is used by 7% of teens who use social networks. Facebook, once a closed system limited to school and college communities, has recently become more open. Facebook puts a greater emphasis on actually knowing the people that you connect with. Other social networks used by teenagers include Xanga, Yahoo and Bebo.

How Teens Use Social Networking SitesMost teens create at least a basic profile, with their name, age, status, photo and interests, but many go much further. Many teens make regular visits to update their profiles and to visit others' profiles.

Communicating with others is a key aspect of using social networks. Teens may post public messages or may use bulletins or private messages to communicate with those on their friends list. Most teens use sites such as MySpace and Facebook to stay in touch with their current friends. However, PEW reports that about 50% of teenagers also use the sites to make new friends. Teenagers use the sites to make social plans with their friends, and sometimes to flirt.

Positives and NegativesApart from the social benefits, social networking sites can be used to document school research, promote artistic talents and experiment with other forms of content creation. They provide a way to interact with others who share the same interests and to get constructive feedback on ongoing projects.

Along with these benefits come some risks. Most social networking sites are open to all, especially MySpace, which means that your teen could be exposed to harassment, bullying or sexual advances.

Cyber-bullying and harassment are most often perpetrated by other teens and tend to happen most to older girls and to teens of either gender who have a strong online presence. It may take several forms:

  • publicizing private instant messages, text messages or e-mails
  • posting threatening messages
  • posting photos that will cause embarrassment
  • spreading rumors

It's rare for harassment to spill over into real-world conflicts, but it can still be a cause of emotional distress for teens.

A greater danger is that teens may become targets of pedophiles. The anonymity of some social networking sites makes it easy for unscrupulous people to target young teens and engage them in harmful conversations. It's easy for predators to pose as teens and lure children into harmful real-world contact as well. Most social networking sites have privacy controls in place, but teens seldom use them. Active monitoring of profiles and behaviors catches some predators, but not all of them.

Another risk is identity theft, which can occur when teens share too much information about their name, date of birth and location.

Social Networking SafetyIt's up to parents to make sure their kids are safe when they use social networking. Many of the same rules that apply to online chat apply to these sites:

  • Use an alias.
  • Don't give out personal information to people you don't know. A last name and a town are enough for a predator to locate your child.
  • Don't assume that people are who they claim to be.
  • Immediately end any communication that makes you uncomfortable and report it to a parent.

For younger teens, you should investigate any sites they'd like to use. Find out what privacy protections are in place and insist that your teen uses them. For children under 16, that often means a private profile that can only be seen by approved friends.

Older teens may want a public profile to promote a band or other creative work. In this case, have your child create a second, public profile for the project while still restricting the personal profile to family and close friends. It's best to set up these profiles with a free e-mail from Yahoo or Google using an alias that can't be traced back to find personal information.

Encourage your kids to tell you if they're victims of cyber bullying or harassment. Many teens will try to deal with this on their own, which can have disastrous consequences. If your child knows who's behind the harassment, involve the other child's parents or school officials. If it's anonymous, remind your child that it's  not personal; some people just think it's fun to say mean things about others.

Online social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have become a big part of many people's lives. These online networks can be useful tools for staying in touch with friends and family. They give us the opportunity to share photos, videos, news, stories and daily minutia with our friends and loved ones. They help us to reconnect with old friends we haven't seen in years.

Signs of Social Network AddictionSocial networking sites are particularly popular with teens, who have a seemingly unending need to share every detail with their friends. But when is it too much? How can you tell if your child has crossed the line from using social networking sites in an appropriate way to abusing them? Here are some warning signs of social networking addiction.

  1. Your child spends less face-to-face time with friends and family as a result of spending too much time on the computer.
  2. Your child routinely loses track of time, spending hours on social networking sites.
  3. Your child routinely stays up much later than his usual bedtime, perusing social networking sites.
  4. Your child feels anxious if she isn't near a computer to check her pages and updates.
  5. Hobbies and activities your child used to enjoy are ignored because he's spending so much time online.
  6. Important tasks and homework go undone, while your child spends hours online.
  7. Your child thinks about social networking sites, even when she's not near a computer.

If your child is exhibiting even a couple of these warning signs, you may want to reevaluate the time he spends online. This type of addiction can have serious detrimental affects, such as failed relationships and poor school performance. It's normal for kids to be obsessively enamored with something new, but when that love drags on for weeks, it's time to take action.

Cutting Back on Online Social NetworkingSimply taking the computer away won't solve the problem; it only postpones it. Your child needs to find a healthy balance between social networking and everyday life. There are steps you can take to help your child find that balance. 

  1. Spending more quality time with the family. It is quite common for an addict to be spending hours online while siblings are right in the next room. Have your child turn off the computer, and go spend some time with the family. Instead of logging on after school, make plans to meet up with friends in person.
  2. Use the reward system. Make a deal with your child to complete schoolwork first, then allow a little time to check Facebook or Myspace.
  3. Set a timer. Allow your child 20 minutes or so, then turn the computer off.
  4. Make an effort to be totally unplugged. Leave the computer at home on family vacations. If you're planning a family trip to the beach or a park, insist that cell phones be left in the car, so there are no distractions.

If your child is still finding ways to spend hours online, you need to take a more aggressive approach. Parental filtering software can ban certain Web sites, or you can ground your child from using the computer. If the problem is this extreme, you should treat it like any other addiction. Find out why your child is so hooked on social networking, then look for other ways that your child can meet those same needs.

Within the last decade social media usage has gone from being used by mainly college students to including young children, parents, grandparents, and everyone in between.  A specific population that seems to be particularly affected by this increase is adolescents.  Walking through the hallways of a high school you will now see teens on their cellphones updating their status’, posting pictures on Instagram, and checking the latest gossip on Twitter.  This form of communication is completely revolutionizing peer relationships during a developmentally important time.  A question many parents have is, “When is it too much?”

Although internet addiction was not formally recognized in the DSM IV-R, many mental health professionals believe that it has similar addictive properties as gambling, shopping, and sex.  These behavioral addictions become compulsive and obsessive, and provide a sense of euphoria by repeatedly doing them.  When an avid gambler pulls down the lever of a machine or places a big bet, dopamine is released from the brain and provides an immediate rush of positive sensation.  This rush, often referred to as a “high”, is what many people get addicted to.  Mental health professionals that are pushing for formal acceptance of internet addiction in DSM V believe that the same cycle is in action when someone becomes dependent on the internet or social media.

Excessive internet usage amongst teens can negatively impact them in multiple domains of their life.  In a study completed on how using information and communication technologies such as Facebook, text messaging, and instant messenger affects academic performance, researchers found that those who use Facebook or text while completing academic work have lower GPAs and that usage hinders their learning.  Another study found that students who used Facebook more frequently were less engaged with school.

Even if internet or social media obsession is not a formally diagnosed addiction, the usage of these technologies increases a teen’s chance of participating in other risky behavior and developing an addiction.  Recently, a study was completed where adolescents (aged 13 to 15) were shown experimenter-created Facebook profiles of older peers either drinking or not.  Those who were shown profiles of peers using alcohol were significantly impacted and viewed alcohol use as normative and held cognitions that predict alcohol use.  Since teens were significantly impacted by just this small amount of exposure in this study, it is important to monitor Facebook usage and talk with teens about alcohol use/abuse.

So what can parents do?  Make their children delete Facebook?  Not only would this probably be impossible, it is not advisable.  There are a lot of benefits for Facebook usage, including being more connected, forming and maintaining social relationships, and having a format to express their ideas.  Instead of asking them to go cold turkey, here are some tips on how to encourage a healthy relationship with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever the next “big” thing is:

  1. Become their friend.  Create your own Facebook profile and request to be their friend.  Not only is this a great way for you to connect with old friends, it is a way to check out what is going on in your teen’s life.  If they won’t accept your friend request or are hiding certain things from you, there is probably a bigger issue than them just being embarrassed that their parent is on Facebook.
  2. Have time set aside where they can’t be connected.  Who wants to listen to a cellphone constantly vibrating during dinner?  Establish certain times with your child that they will “disconnect” from the outside world.  Not only will this provide quality time for you to spend with them, it will decrease the chances of them becoming dependent on these connections.
  3. Talk to them.  If you are concerned about something you see on their “wall” or Twitter feed, talk to them about it.  One of the worst things a parent can do is let their kids feel like they don’t care.  Talking to them about what is going on in their life will make the conversations where you are concerned go a lot smoother.
The craze for social networking site is spreading like an epidemic among us and even at an alarming rates among the teenagers. These social networking sites have rapidly entered our homes through internet. The age group most adversely affected by this menace is young children and teenagers. The time which they are supposed devote to their studies is being wasted in chatting over these sites.  This adversely affects their studies, career and mentality.These sites are eating up most of the precious time of children who at the age when they should be shaping their future, keep glued to their computer screen chatting with their online friends many of whom are strangers and most of the times with fake identiies.  In this race of building relations in a virtual world they are going far from the real world relations. They dont have time to sit and talk to their family members because they are busy chatting to the friends whom they dont even know.They are living and enjoying a virtual social circle. Such is the effect of these social sites that they have forgotten the value and importance of real social relations. To save their children from this addiction, parents should spend time with their children. They should develop friendly relations with them. Keeping children busy in other productive activities of their interest is the best way to fight this problem. They should keep a check on the number of hours spent on internet by their children. Goverment should also make strict cyber laws to curb this menace because the future of any country is in the hands of its children. We can not afford to currupt our young minds with useless activities.

Are social networks detrimental to children and teenagers' well-being? In the past few years, social networks have become more and more popular. More people join social networks every single day,  and social networking doesn’t seem to be something that is a passing trend. The Nielsen Company has even reported that “people in the U.S. continue to spend more time on social networking and blog sites as well, with total minutes increasing 210% year-over-year and the average time per person increasing 143% year-over-year in December 2009” (Nielsen 1). People are spending more time on social networks than ever before. While social networks have negative effects on everyone, teenagers and children are especially stunted by them. Social networks are detrimental to children because communications skills are affected, users can become addicted to these sites, and cyber bullying is prevalent.

Communication Skills
Parents shouldn’t allow their children to use social networks because communication development is crucial for children and teenagers, and social networks impair communication skills. According to, “a bit more than a third (37%) of social network-using teens said they sent messages to friends every day through the social sites, a drop from the 42% of such teens who said they did so in February of 2008” (Pew). Face to face communication among children and teenagers is being squashed out by social networks. A phone call isn’t used to get in touch with someone anymore, Facebook and Twitter are the main tools of communication. The consequences of this are social awkwardness and even social anxiety when confronted with new people to meet in person. A study was done by among teenagers on social networks, and the amount of communication among teenagers on social networks, and the amount of communication by social network has remained steady.

Teen activities on SNS 

“Sending instant messages or text messages to friends through a social network site has remained stable, with 58% of social networking teens saying they sent texts or IMs” (Pew). This means that more than half of teens are using social networks to get and stay in touch with their friends. Face to face communication is lessened, because social networks provide quicker and easier ways to talk with someone. This is not good because face to face communication skills are needed later in life. A job interview won’t be over Facebook chat, an applicant  must go in for an interview and actually communicate with the employers. Social networks don’t allow children  and teenagers to develop the communication skills that they will need for situations later in life.

Social Network Addiction
Children and teenagers can spend so much time on the internet and social networks that they can become addicted to those sites. When a student wants to procrastinate homework or studying, they turn to the internet for a source of entertainment. Priorities like schoolwork and homework are pushed to lower priorities because of the internet. Children and teenagers spend so much time on social networks and the internet that they start to become addicted. CBS News did a test on college students, and cut them off from the internet for a few days.

“When asked how they felt during the brief disconnection, students’ descriptions of frantic cravings, anxiety and jitters mirrored those typical of people going through withdrawal from drugs or alcohol” (CBS 1). Social networks are big time wasters because the user is constantly being shown new information in the form of pictures and statuses. There is even a feeling of competition among social network users. In CBS News’ study students mentioned that “on Web sites like Facebook and MySpace, users can instantly see what their friends online are doing and can keep them updated on their every move” (CBS 1). Depression and anxiety can even start if a user is constantly comparing their life to their Facebook friends. The constant flow of information is just another source of stress to every social network user.

Cyber Bullying
Cyber bullying is especially popular on social networks, and allowing children to go on these sites exposes them to this. defines cyber bullying as, “willful and repeated harm (i.e., harassing, humiliating, or threatening text or images) inflicted through the Internet, interactive technologies, or mobile phones” (Internet Safety).

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, “Forty-three percent of teens have been victims of cyber bullying in the last year” (NCPC 1). Cyber bullying is an extremely serious subject. The bully can constantly get in touch with a victim. Cyber bullying is so serious because “victimization on the Internet through cyber bullying is increasing in frequency and scope. Electronic bullies can remain “virtually” anonymous” (Internet Safety). Many teens go to extremes to escape cyber bullying, even resorting to suicide as a way out. Parents of teenagers and children need to be wary of cyber bullying. Katie Greer of warns of a couple warning signs parents can look out for, “Mood shifts after being online can be a good indicator that your child is being cyberbullied.  Keeping an open dialogue, teaching positive online behavior and checking in on your child’s social networking behavior are important” (Greer 1).

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter cause various problems in our society. Face to face communication has lessened in recent years, because you can just tweet or write on your friend’s walls. Social networks are also addictive, people spend so much time on them that they aren’t accomplishing what they should actually be doing. Every single day more and more people join social networks and begin to experience the negative effects of these sites. Social networks are detrimental to teenagers and children because communications skills are affected, users can become addicted to these sites, and cyber bullying is prevalent.

Social Networking/Media Effects: Positive

1.   Better information and knowledge access – people who have a childhood and adolescent life minus the internet are faced with the difficulty of getting access to vital information and knowledge they need for education. This means that when you need to do research on something, you have to spend tons of effort and go miles in order to find books, periodicals, and other paper sources just to get started. Additionally, you may also need to conduct interviews and surveys so as to get more information about a certain issue you’re tackling.

But with the birth of the internet, every single bit of information or knowledge a child or teen needs to learn is compiled in a very large library called the World Wide Web. With social networking, research is a thousand times easier and getting the information you want may be done in minutes.

2.   Interactive involvement - Long ago, most children and teens were limited to joining community, neighborhood, and school groups. They were not that exposed to events and happenings outside their community. But with social networking and the internet in general, correspondence to virtually anyone from anywhere is possible.

Interactive involvement even reaches as far putting children and teens under the spotlight for discussing and participating in online and social networking forums for issues that concern them.

3.   Improved world awareness – It is quite usual to think that children and teens are not that keen to knowing issues that shape the world. Politics, social problems, population, health, and the economy are things that the younger populace lacks interest in. But because of social networking, they have no choice but to face the world‘s problems and share their opinions. The good thing about this is that their voices are given weight in issues where adults are traditionally the prominent protagonists.

Social Networking/Media Effects: Negative

1.   Encourages exploitation and abuse – We all know that social networking is a product of technology and technology brings new kinds of crime. While many people use it for wholesome, ethical, and healthy reasons, there are also many who utilize it to abuse and exploit others, particularly children and teens. The convenience brought by the web has led criminals to understand that carrying out their trade is much easier and less risky online. The use of fake identities is one advantage these people have in order to be more confident in exploiting and abusing children.

2.   Behavioral tendencies and consequences – The impact of social media and social networking sites on the behavior of children and teens is very disturbing. We’re not saying that social media is bad in and of itself. The misuse of such technology is what makes it bad. For instance, there is the tendency to conform to what’s popular without considering whether it's right or wrong - as often seen in cases of cyberbullying. It's much easier for young people to verbally abuse each other online than it is face to face.

3.   Health conditions – Social media is responsible for revolutionizing traditional communication. However, research has shown that social networking sites can be very addictive. People who use social networking sites for their daily communication are hooked to a point that they neglect health responsibilities, especially their diet. The addictive nature of social media leads to eating disorders, obesity, heart problems, sleep disorders, and other pertinent health issues. Additionally, constant exposure to the internet because of social networking addiction prevents a child or teen from engaging in physical activities and socialization. They become so dependent on it that they start to think making contact with other people outside the social network is not necessary. As such, they become socially and physically stagnant.

In actuality, there are more consequences that we have to face as parents when it comes to social media and networking issues. We have to understand that even though that there’s no stopping our children from using them, it's possible to maintain control. Trying to force a child to stop using social networking sites will probably not work too well, but a parent that is lovingly and constantly involved in their child’s life will have a much better time keeping watch over their online activity. Through this active monitoring, one can at least limit the negative effects.