Social Networking’s Negative Impacts on Kids

Psychology Professor Larry Rosen made the presentation in a plenary talk entitled "Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids."

"While nobody can deny that Facebook has altered the landscape of social interaction, particularly among young people, we are just now starting to see solid psychological research demonstrating both the positives and the negatives," he said in his presentation before the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

Rosen is a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Excerpts of his findings were posted on the American Psychological Association and on Science Daily.

Among the potential negative effects of using Facebook were:

  • Teens who use Facebook may show more narcissistic tendencies while young adults who have a strong Facebook presence show more signs of other psychological disorders, including antisocial behaviors, mania and aggressive tendencies.
  • Daily overuse of media and technology may have a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers. They may become more prone to anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, as well as by making them more susceptible to future health problems.
  • Facebook can be distracting and can negatively impact learning. Studies showed middle school, high school and college students who checked Facebook at least once during a 15-minute study period achieved lower grades.
But the study also found positive influences linked to social networking, includinng:
  • Young adults who spend more time on Facebook are better at showing "virtual empathy" to online friends.
  • Online social networking can help introverted adolescents learn to socialize, even if it is via an electronic gadget like a computer or a smartphone.
  • Social networking can provide tools for teaching in compelling ways that engage young students.
Rosen also encouraged parents to assess their child’s activities on social networking sites, and discuss removing inappropriate content or connections to people who appear problematic. Parents also need to pay attention to the online trends and the latest technologies, websites and applications children are using, he said.

“Communication is the crux of parenting. You need to talk to your kids, or rather, listen to them,” Rosen said. “The ratio of parent listen to parent talk should be at least five-to-one. Talk one minute and listen for five.”

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