Brouillette 1 Andy Brouillette Professor Malcolm Campbell English 1103 1 November 2012 Social Networking: Good or Bad?

In today’s world we are always connected in some way to the Internet. Social networking sites are like our umbilical cord to the world around us. We use these sites to connect with friends and share our daily lives, but has this caused us to loose our sense of reality? I want to know how social networking sites are affecting the social interactions of the next generation, the adolescents in society. Are social interactions positively or negatively effected by how we use the social media sites? In order to base how the sites affect adolescents, we first need to define what we are going to consider a normal social interaction. Social interaction is the ability for one person to communicate with another when both are physically present in the same location. Now that we have considered our base definition of social interaction, we can begin to compare how we have changed with the appearance of social networking, and if we are benefiting from its use. In order to draw an appropriate conclusion about how adolescents are affected by the use of social networking sites, we must look at both the positive and negative impacts that can come with the use of social networking sites. Before we get into the negative impacts that Facebook can have on adolescents, we should look at the demographics. In order to get a complete conclusion we need to answer a few questions about the Facebook demographic. How many users are on Facebook? What is the diversity among adolescent Facebook users like? Facebook is the
Comment [HC3]: Change to “potentially has”? Comment [HC1]: Change to “affected” Comment [HC2]: I like how you clearly stated your topic/question

Brouillette 2 largest social networking site with about five hundred million users, so I will focus most of the selection on Facebook (Weeks). In an article written by Danah Boyd of the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information, a demographic of Facebook use among adolescents is presented based on findings from research done in 2004 and 2006. The article, Why Youth Love Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life, shows that eighty seven percent of adolescents had access to the internet. Out of that percentage fifty five percent have created a social networking profile. If you remove the younger adolescents that are legally not permitted to have social networking accounts, the percentage of adolescents that have created a social networking profile jumps to sixty five percent (Boyd). In today’s world, those percentages would have increased due to increase usage of the internet among adolescents. Now that we know how many adolescents use social networking, we can look at some of the negative and positive aspects of these sites. In Linton Weeks article, Social Networks: Thinking of Children, we are introduced to a father who is debating on whether or not to allow his eleven-year-old son to open a Facebook account. Facebook has about five hundred million users, but they have a policy that if you are under the age of thirteen that you cannot register for the site. This policy stems from the Children’s Online Protection Act of 1998, which makes it illegal for a website to collect information about anyone who is under the age of thirteen. The father, Andy Affleck, says, “There appears to be some belief that the age of 13 is magical – that children with no other socialization will magically be able to handle the online world, and by the same token, kids younger cannot.” (Weeks). I tend to agree with his statement because what makes a thirteen year old different from a twelve year old, I
Comment [HC5]: Find a better word to use Comment [HC4]: Should ‘internet’ be capitalized, search document for other corrections needed.

Brouillette 3 would say nothing except an extra year of life. If children are going to learn how to handle social networking sites appropriately, should they not be taught from a young age? I would say it is like Germany and alcohol. My German Professor told us that Germany does not technically have a legal drinking age because children are taught to respect alcohol at a very young age (Smith). I do, however, see why the law could have been created, there are many threats waiting for the small mind of an adolescent. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, even sees the benefit of learning to control things at a young age. He says, “My philosophy is that for education, you need to start at a really, really young age.” (Weeks). I think that this quote shows that a lot of people believe that children should learn how to act online at an early age. With some kind of education about the Internet we could prevent some of the other dangers of Facebook. Another threats, as outlined by Weeks, are the predators online. He uses a scenario that occurred using Facebook of a twenty-five year old man that was attempting to set up a meeting with a ten-year-old girl for sex. The girl’s profile lead him to believe the girl was either fourteen or fifteen, which is still very wrong, but the point is she lied about her age to join a site that is meant for people above the age of thirteen (Weeks). This is just an extreme example of a predatorily situation that can occur when adolescents are online. It is true that predators are online, and stalking children through social networking sites, but we cannot’t control their use of social networking. All we can do is control what an adolescent does on social networking sites, but that can only be controlled by the parent or the social networking company. There are also smaller dangers that lay with in the bounds of Facebook.

Brouillette 4 An adolescent can also be harassed or bullied via social networking sites. Although it does not seem as bad as a predator stalking a child online, but it can certainly can end with a similar outcome. You might hear about the predator attacks online that end with the death of the child that is being taken advantage of online, but have you ever heard about Amanda Todd? According to the New York Daily News, she was bullied online after a topless picture surfaced on Facebook and in her school. This led Amanda to start drugs, drinking, and cutting but not before having to change schools. The online bullying got worse after she attempted to commit suicide by drinking a bottle of bleach. This attempt was unsuccessful because her parents rushed her to the hospital. The bullying causeds Amanda to seek help online by posting a video onto YouTube about the people bullying her. A month after she posted the video she committed suicide. Amanda died on Wednesday October 10, 2012 at the age of 15 (Murray). Through the example of Amanda Todd, we can see that harassment and bullying online between adolescents can lead to depression, violence, or suicide. Most states have laws that allow for prosecution of online tormentors, but in most cases they do not help because people don’t report online bullying or harassment. There are other forms of negative impact that are not as bad in retrospect to cyber bullying or online predators, but they still negatively impact adolescents negatively. Facebook Depression is another negative aspect of using social networking sites. As defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ journal article, Pediatrics, Facebook Depression is “depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression (O’Keeffe). The only real problem is this really a clinical disorder different

Brouillette 5 than normal depression? I tend to think that depression is depression, no matter how you fall into it; however, it still is a serious issue that can come from the use of Facebook. Depression can cause adolescents to become removed from society, therefore affecting their social lives. With the decrease in social activity, depression can become deeper within an adolescent. Depression and bullying are two negative aspects that can be seen in adolescents with the use of social networking sites. There is another negative impact on adolescents’ social activities that may not be completely attributed to the use of social networking sites, but it can be considered something that occurs due to their use. The other negative aspect of social network sites that is not directly related to social interaction among adolescents is the effect on education. The negative effects on education can indirectly affect the social life of an adolescent. I know that when I was in middle and high school, everyone was on Facebook, and if you didn’t have one you were considered different or uncool. Everyone in my high school had a Facebook account; some would check theirs multiple times a day so they could see what their friends were doing. Now that I am in college and have a lot more free time, I tend to check mine up to five times a day. I am even on Facebook now as I type. A recent study has shown that twenty two percent of adolescents log onto their Facebook accounts more than ten times a day (O’Keeffe). This type of addiction to a social networking site can cause separation from the world around you. In the addiction, you only care about what you see on these sites, and nothing about what is going on around you. The separation from reality can cause a lack of concentration in your classes or while you are working on homework, leading to lower grades. And now that about seventy five percent of adolescents have smart phones, it is even easier to access Facebook in class. Luckily only about twenty
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Brouillette 6 four percent use their phones to access social networking accounts (O’Keeffe). The use of social networking and how it affects the education of adolescents negatively is a very bad thing that can occur. In my senior year of high school, I conducted a research project about the negative ways social networking can affect grades and GPA among my fellow classmates. We determined that in higher-level classes the use of social networking did not affect a person’s ability to make good grades and maintain a high GPA. The negative aspect came when we surveyed some of the lower level classes. In the lower classes we found that the ability to make good grades and maintain a good GPA could possibly affected by their use of social networking sites. Since this survey was voluntary, but randomized, we determined that the use of social networking sites affected the ability to learn. We could, however, conclude that there was a negative correlation between the use of social networking sites and a person’s ability to make good grades. Since we could not come up with a conclusive conclusion, I can now say that it could affect the ability to learn, but it is really not massively negative to adolescents. There are negative detrminetal aspects that are worse, like the ones mentioned previously, and there are also benefits that can mask the negative quality of such a week negative impact. The first benefit that I am going to look into goes against part of the previous negative aspect about the education and social dilemma. In Pediatrics, the author states, “For some teens and tweens, social media is the primary way they interact socially, rather than at the mall or a friend's house.” (O’Keeffe). The author is putting this in to perspective for parents of adolescents, and trying to convey the fact that social networking sites provide a way to connect socially with other people. This online
Comment [HC9]: Need better word for either word. Kind of repetative Comment [HC8]: Find another word for “negative”?

Brouillette 7 connection can let adolescents connect with there their friends later at night and when they might need help with something they think their parents can nonot help with. O’Keeffe also gives five ways that adolescents can benefit from socializing on Facebook. An adolescent can find opportunities for community service, develop creative skills though sharing artistic and musical works, creating podcast or videos, diversifying social interactions, and identifying themselves while using social networking sites like Facebook (O’Keeffe). I personally use Facebook to communicate with friends that live in other states, which is part of a socialization benefit that O’Keeffe is talking about. If using social networking sites diversifies social communication, we could possibly bring the world closer together though the younger generation. Socialization is not the only benefit that can come from the use of Facebook by adolescents. Just like the benefit mentioned above, the next benefit also contradicts a negative aspect. The use of social network sites can benefit an adolescent in their education. Students can give and receive help on assignments in which they do not understand, or create a group so that the class can communicate. Some teachers even use Facebook to engage learning among their students who are in a technologically advancing world (O’Keeffe). Personally I have used Facebook to receive help on homework assignments and on things I do not understand in class. I have a friend that that is studying in Germany and she helps me with my understanding of the German language. If Facebook is used in addition to in- class learning to benefit student performance, it might help increase grades in schools. But do these benefits over ride the negative aspects of Facebook? In order to answer this question we will need to compare the qualities of both the benefits and the negative adverse aspects.

Brouillette 8 When I look at the negative and positive aspects of Facebook, I cannot see a clear result. With the ability to use Facebook for educational and socialization purposes, I see it as a positive instrument for adolescents in their social lives. However, I can also see how Facebook can be negative due to the predators, cyber bullying, Facebook depression, and education struggles. So is there really enough evidence to suggest the Facebook is either positive or negative to adolescents? Does Facebook even cause an effect on the social life of an adolescent? Do the affects, negative or positive, depend on the adolescent or another factor? I feel like that as more and more evidence is provided from research we will be able to form a better opinion about the affects of Facebook.

Overall, your paper had great organization and transition. I like how you kept applying yourself and including your thoughts and opinions as related to the negative or positive aspects of social networking that you documented. Some sentences can be improved and try not to use some words too repetitively. Otherwise, you paper flows really well!

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Brouillette 9

Works Cited Boyd, Danah. “Why Youth Love Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life." Youth, Identity, and Digital Media. Edited by David Buckingham. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. Murray, Rheana. "Cyberbullied teen commits suicide ." New York Daily News. 12 Oct. 2012. Web. 6 Nov. 2012. O'Keeffe, Gwenn S., and Kathleen Clarke-Pearson. "The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families." Pediatrics (2011): 6. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. Smith, Sylvia. “Answering Whom or What.” German Department. University of North Carolina at Charlotte. 17 October 2012. Lecture. Weeks, Linton. "Social Networks: Thinking Of The Children ." NPR. 11 June 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2012.