Archive for the ‘socialnetworking’ Tag

Is Social Networking Bad for Our Kids?

In a Oct. 13 article written in the Telegraph, the question is posed: Is social media bad for our children?

There are a lot of questions that have been brought up with the emergence and popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, and MySpace, but this is the first time I have seen this question raised.  It is a good one.  And it is not just for kids.  Do social networking sites make me more social or less?

For our younger generation, let’s ask it this way:  By allowing children to hole up in their rooms and “play” with their “virtual” friends, do parents do their children a disservice for future interaction?  Say you are a pimply, clumsy teenager.   Is it better for you to avoid the anxiety and abuse that comes with being an average or less than popular student by NOT engaging with peers face-to-face?  I think for most of us, we are defined in large part to how we spent our middle and high school years, for better or for worse.

The Telegraph article revolves around a discussion group among parents and technology and sociology experts  One of the parents was Stanley Kirk Burrell, more popularly known as MC Hammer, who has six children.  In my opinion, he hits the nail on the head:  “Social media is the rock ‘n’ roll of the early 21st century.”  That is pretty insightful.  (Almost as much as his 1988 hit U Can’t Touch This).  For those old enough, let’s rewind to 1984 and ask our parents if they thought Madonna‘s Like a Virgin or Twisted Sister‘s We’re Not Gonna Take It were bad for us.  Those hits, among other classic 80’s songs, probably got enough parents questioning the tastes of their children and the direction they were headed.

As Chris Anderson discusses in the  The Long Tail, the music industry is not producing the hits anymore.  He gives several reasons for this, but another one of those reasons could be more directly related to Burrell’s charge: kids just aren’t that interested in music as they were before.  What they are interested in is instant messaging, texting, playing video games, and producing machinima.

This brings up my final question regarding the topic:  Is America’s child obesity problem directly related to the amount of time they spend online?  When we got our Atari in 1980, it was hard to keep me away from smashing record scores in Space Invaders, Pong, and Pitfall.  I was addicted.  But I knew when my Dad came home from work that I had to ditch the indoor games and get outside or I’d get in trouble.  (I think the REAL reason he didn’t want me to spend all the time on the Atari was less for  my health than to keep me from embarrassing him when we played one another – didn’t work.)  Since Atari and home video games, the obesity rates for children have tripled.  At least with Atari, if you had to play against someone, you had to do it next to one another.  “In your face, Jimbo!”  “Pass the chips.”

Regardless of whether or not you think social networking is good or bad for kids, it is something to think about.  My daughter of three months is not quite at the Storm Peaks level in World of Warcraft, but I’ll already be thinking about this as she grows up.  How much is too much?