Technology is changing and helping people stay in touch with their friends in even more ways, which can be both positive and negative for teenagers. On the one hand, it is easier than ever to communicate instantly with friends and family through social networks; however, social networking can also perpetuate the drama of high school (http://www.teenzeen.org/teens-and-high-school-education.html) and make teens more susceptible to predators on the Internet.
Sharing and Gaining Interests
When social networks serve as a form of communication for teens, teens are better equipped to stay on top of the latest trends in music, movies, games and more. Social networks not only help teens find new artists and mediums to enjoy, but also help teens make connections with one another through shared interests. In this respect, social networking can also be very influential on teen interests. This is beneficial if it expands a teen’s interests into positive areas or promotes good role models, yet it has the potential to be detrimental if it exposes teens to negative influences.
Some teens may find themselves getting into trouble with their parents or guardians for viewing or sharing certain types of posts. A teen’s own posts can also create conflicts within the family. Several videos and posts of parents punishing their teens for social networking habits have gone viral, which likely caused a lot of shame and embarrassment for those involved. Although social networks make it easy to share thoughts and vent frustrations, teens and adults alike can benefit from using self-restraint and being responsible about the type and amount of information they make public.
The Pew Research Center notes that 15 percent of teens have been targeted on social networks by bullies and that 88 percent report they have witnessed cruelty against others on these sites. This type of bullying can be very harmful to a teen’s emotional health and has even contributed to suicide.
Teens who witness a person bullying or being bullied on a social network site can reach out to adults for help. Telling parents, a counselor or school officials can help put an end to the problem. Teens who are being bullied themselves should also speak with a trusted adult. This type of behavior is unacceptable, and no one deserves to be treated poorly. In some cases, bullies are acting out because of personal problems and not because of anything the target has said or done. Help is also available for teens who participate in cyber bullying.
Teens can make themselves vulnerable online in several ways, including by:
- Posting personal information, such as telephone numbers and addresses
- Posting suggestive photos
- Sharing personal information with strangers
- Sharing their whereabouts with strangers
Posting a lot of personal information can make it easier for Internet predators to locate and stalk their victims. Some Internet predators use personal information to make their victims believe they share a connection based on personal interests as well. It is never a teen’s fault if someone uses information against him or her, but it is important that teens take precautions to protect themselves. In addition to keeping personal information private, teens can adjust the security settings on social networks, such as Facebook, to prevent strangers from viewing their profiles.
Although social networks provide a fun and easy way to stay in touch with friends, they do have potential downsides. Make sure to take the proper precautions when you are online.