In the 21st century world, it oftentimes seems that our lives have been overrun with technology. Smart phones, iPads, and even Smart watches are just a few of the technological gadgets that serve one purpose-to keep us connected. As a society, we are bombarded with a constant stream of news, videos and images. It is very difficult to escape into the solitude that our parents and earlier generations were privileged to experience. With the advent of all of this technology, social networking has emerged as one of the premiere forces enabling teenagers and young adults to be in constant contact. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have also been at the root of controversies surrounding their usage and seem to have ill effects on teens and young adults when used improperly.
One of the effects of social networking on teens and young adults centers around bullying. People who are prone to bullying tend to find the computer screen a safe barrier giving them a tacit acquiescence to write anything about anyone. It tends to remove the victim from the bully. This aspect of social networking has been heavily featured in the news lately with the case in Florida of a thirteen year old girl being cyber bullied to death. The bullies used Facebook to spread vile rumors about the girl who became so distraught that she committed suicide by throwing herself off of a silo in an abandoned cement factory. These types of stories about bullying over Facebook and Twitter are found in the news on an almost daily basis. Visit a teen’s Facebook page and one will find it riddled with one remark after another about a classmate or peer.
Another negative effect that social networking presents is the ruination of reputations and careers by postings and tweets. Teens and young adults do not pay enough attention to what they post on Facebook and Twitter, and, furthermore, they seem to not be cognizant of the fact that once something is posted, it is out there in cyberspace forever. Teens and young adults are near sighted when it comes to understanding the future impact of a posting or a tweet made today. Once a young adult at a college fraternity posts on Facebook a picture of himself chugging beer and partaking of illegal drugs, it remains there for future employers to stumble across. In turn, this very picture could be the tipping point in the decision hiring process. A high school teenager who tweets about wanting to blow up the school, may find himself in serious trouble involving breaking federal laws. One of two scenarios is played out in these situations; either people are fatuous enough to post inappropriate items, or, perhaps, they just do not care who sees them. Either attitude may be detrimental to future success.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing effects of social networking is the breakdown of true, face-to-face friendships. People get so caught up in the number of friends they have on Facebook, or the number of followers they have on Twitter, that they neglect or discard their real-life relationships in favor of their virtual ones. This contributes to the ineffectiveness of human communications. Teens and young adults have become so inured to actually talking to each other, that they, for the most part, do not have a concept or frame of reference for developing and maintaining relationships outside of the virtual world. They have never experienced the joy of using anything other than a keyboard to converse. Their world is a virtual one made up of short posts that require no attention span or deep thinking process.
Social networking sites have become very popular for their ease of use and for keeping people in touch with each other. They have more drawbacks than advantages, however. Teens and young adults have come to rely on these sites so heavily that they have lost all sense of how to communicate. As long as people allow themselves to be controlled by these networking sites they will continue to suffer from their ill effects.