Saturday, July 05, 2008

Concern that teens on social networking sites lag in social development, are exposed to unusual risks

The British newspaper “Telegraph” has a telling story by Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor. It is titled “Facebook and Myspace generation ‘cannot form relationships’”. The link is here.

The concern is that teenagers who use social networking sites run the risk of being unable to form “realistic” social relationships that depend on body language and subtle emotion. They are more likely to take on a utilitarian view of people. In some cases, this can lead to abusive situations that lead to the Megan Meyer incident, already discussed on this blog (although that incident was promulgated by an adult).

There is a concern that teenagers who spend more time on line and less time with other family members will not develop the social and emotion-dealing skills that are necessary for adult family life. But this could be a chicken and egg problem. It could be that introverted people are attracted to life online, and that economic development has favored these individuals more than in the past. There are still plenty of teens who excel at “real world” activities: sports, music, drama, chess, school work, community service, and so on.

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