Myths about Young People and Social Media Debunked
The relationship between young people and social media is often misjudged by adults, giving it names like frivolous and addictive. Author danah boyd debunks some of these conceived notions in her book.
Public spaces where you can hang out with friends, find new friends, and talk with them about concerning matters have always attracted teenagers. They don’t want to do it in front of their parents or other authoritative figures. And social media happens to be the ideal platform for all these gatherings essential for human development. Social media helps them develop a sense of independence from parents and other adults. Image Courtesy: Getty
This kind of behavior doesn’t go very well with parents. Adults are usually puzzled and sometimes appalled by the amount of time teens spend online and by what they seem to do there. A new book by danah boyd (she spells her name without capitals), is entitled It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens debunks some of the simplistic myths about teens and technology. These myths are quite popular in the media or are heard in conversations among adults. Image Courtesy: Getty
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of perception. While adults may think that a computer or smartphone makes a teenager socially isolated, the reality could be that the teen is using that device to overcome social isolation imposed by adults. Social media often becomes mode of communication for teens with their friends which they can’t do otherwise because of poor reach. Image Courtesy: Getty
Teens do enjoy social media so much that they lose track of time but it is not clear if the harm outweighs the gains. Adults usually blame technology for giving teens addictive qualities; but they forget to reflect that this addiction could be a result of their own behavior and social conditions that deprive adolescents of the freedom to meet in physical places, away from interfering adults. Image Courtesy: Getty
Adults don’t like it when teenagers put information up on the internet that is supposed to be “private.” But, according to the young ones, they used social media in order to achieve privacy. Parents worry about information getting seen by inquisitive eyes of strangers while teenagers want to keep it away from their parents’ curious eyes. To support this statement, boyd writes in her book, “In 2012, when I asked teens who were early adopters of Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram why they prefer these services to Facebook, I heard a near-uniform response: ‘Because my parents don’t know about it.” Image Courtesy: Getty
Boyd and her colleagues did a nationwide survey where they found that 93 percent of parents were concerned that their child might meet a stranger online who would hurt them. These parents expressed fear against “sexual predators,” “child molesters,” “pedophiles,” and “sex offenders” who might contact their child through their online participation. The fact is, child molestation is far more likely to be committed by people who are well known to the child, such as relatives, trusted family friends, priests, and teachers, than by strangers. Image Courtesy: Getty
There have been some tragic cases of cyberbullying or online bullying as we call it but their frequency isn’t as high as parents of teens think of it to be. According to boyd and the teens she interviewed, there is lots of teasing on line, lots of crude language, and lots of what teens call drama and pranking, but not a great deal of noxious bullying. In fact, she found that teens consistently reported greater distress from bullying at school, in person, than from bullying online. Image Courtesy: Getty
Every time parents snoop on their teenagers, every time they ban another activity reasoning it to “for your own good,” every time they limit their access to public spaces, they send the message “we don’t trust you.” Teens are not completely mature; they make mistakes; sometimes the mistakes outrun the maturity. But they must be allowed to make mistakes, because that is how they grow up. Image Courtesy: Getty
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