By Courtney Reiss, Gina Jarvis, Kaprice Sanchez, and Nick Philips, Editors
Sophomore Michael Williams is one of the few at Kaneland who doesn’t have a Facebook account. He says people use social media sites like Facebook more than they should. “Usually, all I hear in school is what people did last night on Facebook,” Williams said.
Media is not way Williams prefers to be social.
“[I would rather speak someone face-to-face] so they don’t take my tone out of context. As an example, people Facebook comment and they think sarcasm is included when it’s really not,” Williams said.
Social media has become a dominant force in American teens’ lives, but is it affecting them in ways that they would have never thought?
Using social media too much?
Facebook, the world’s most popular website, has surpassed even Google as the most-visited destination online, with the site nearing one trillion hits per month.
Freshman Julia Golbeck said that its prevalence can affect relationships.
“We need to learn how to socialize with people, not just over technology,” Golbeck said.
Dependency on technology can be a concern when used too often.
“I think there are some people who use it too much,” business teacher Andrew Igras said.
Technology use creeps into daily lives and affects the way we feel. According to Pew, a research organization, 71 percent of teenagers ages 14-17 have felt good about themselves after an interaction on a social network site.
But is so much social media time good for teens? Some research is beginning to say no.
Relationships and addiction
With Facebook and texting available with the touch of a finger, communication is faster than ever, but because of this, many experts say that people are more lonely and isolated than ever. People who are addicted to Internet usage and social networking have the illusion that they are very connected, when in reality they are anything but.
“These days, we are insecure in our relationships and anxious about intimacy. We look to technology for ways to be in relationships and protect ourselves from them at the same time,” Sherry Turkle, a professor of computer culture at MIT, said.
Application of technology teacher Tom Hanlon does not believe that teenagers are addicted to technology, but rather “addicted to entertaining themselves, and they use technology to do so.”
On the other hand, social worker Patrick Trapp says teenagers can, in fact, be addicted to technology.
“You can classify it as a ‘soft addiction,’ which is an addiction when we become obsessed with something and it has unhealthy consequences or is too much a part of the way we connect with the world,” Trapp said.
However, the negative effects tend to be overlooked. Not only does it affect our everyday lives in many ways, but it can have a significant impact on teenagers’ relationships with others. The obsession with technology can change how teenage relationships function, whether it’s with family or friends.
According to the study “Who Uses Facebook?” there are two types of loneliness, “social loneliness” and “family loneliness.” Facebook users had slightly lower levels of social loneliness, which is not feeling bonded with friends, but had significantly higher levels of family loneliness, which is not feeling bonded with family.
Trapp said that teenagers hide behind technology and use it as a false identity in order to avoid confrontation, which can cause them not to learn how to express themselves properly or efficiently in a face-to-face manner.
“You don’t have to be as accountable for the things you say, and you can hide behind the distance that technology brings. The best example of that is you can be aggressive without having to face the hurt that somebody might feel from that aggression,” Trapp said.
Another downside of technology is that often when people are together, they’re not focusing on the people in front of them, they’re focusing on the people that are away.
Senior Katie Tolan believes that teens are so preoccupied with social networking and technology because “everybody is so obsessed with other people’s lives; they want to know everything about everyone.”
Tolan is one of the many teenagers who depend on her phone in her everyday life.
“I have to be checking my phone constantly if I’m not doing anything. When my phone dies, I freak out and need to find a charger,” she said.
Sophomore Alexa Certa is one of many who spends most of her free time on Facebook. Certa said she spends more than 5-6 hours on social media websites, mainly Facebook, each day.
“It’s almost natural to be on Facebook for me. The first thing I do when I open up my phone is go straight to Facebook,” she said.
Certa dismisses the claims of experts that Facebook and other social media are distancing people from friends and family, as they stare at a screen rather than interact in real life.
“There’s no disconnection,” Certa said. “I mainly use Facebook only to see what’s new.”
While many students, like Certa, said that there is no effect of social media on their relationships, some of the experts suggest otherwise. The effects can be both positive and negative.
“Social networking has had incredible impacts on business and personal life. It also allows people to communicate and share ideas more freely than ever, and it allows people to connect with others that they may not have in the absence of social networking,” social science teacher Mark Meyer said.
But although many find that social media makes connecting with others easier, researchers have begun suggesting that those connections may not be the same as real-life ones and may actually make people lonelier.
The perils and the positives
Being connected with people all the time creates the impression of being well-known, but the effect is the opposite of what many people think. Being in contact all the time can make people more detached or lonelier. Yet social media doesn’t affect everyone equally. At sophomore Tyler Hill’s house, he said that being on Facebook does not affect his family.
“There’s not really a negative effect. If we are on Facebook, then we just use Facebook to talk,” Hill said.
Certain personality traits can determine the usage of Facebook and how Facebook affects users.
Extroverted people usually have more Facebook friends and may belong to more more groups than those who are shy and introverted, according to the study “Who uses Facebook?”
People who are introverted tend to be Facebook friends with just the people who are close with them. They have less social interaction with people on Facebook and use it more for playing games, according to the study.
“I don’t necessarily believe that technology itself can impact an individual’s personality. What they decide to view with this technology, or how they decide to use the technology, is already a function of their morals and their personality,” Meyer said.
ARE YOU ADDICTED?
Signs of an Internet addiction:
- You lose track of time online
- You have trouble completing tasks at work or home
- You isolate yourself from family and friends
- You feel a sense of euphoria while involved in
- Internet activites
The risk for Internet addiction is increased if:
- You suffer from anxiety or depression
- You are less mobile or socially active than you once were
- You have other addictions
- You’re an unhappy teenager or are stressed
- You lack social support