“Since its launch at Harvard University in 2004, Facebook has grown in membership to more than 250 million people in 170 countries and territories on every continent including Antarctica” states David DiSalvo in the article “Are Social Networks Messing with Your Head.” The social network has expanded and become a vital part of the internet. DiSalvo believes social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are making us foolish, childish, and lonely, which hurts our social interactions. DiSalvo approaches the topic with a negative argument, but I believe he only thinks that way because he, himself, is a stranger to the social networks of the world. This essay will explain how social media is a positive and beneficial creation.
Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield finds social media threatening to young children. In the British House of Lords, she debated “As a consequence [of social media], the mid-21st century mind might almost be infantilized, characterized by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathize and a shaky sense of identity” (Greenfield). For her, this is a valid point because she can see the way the brain responds. Her argument is valid but in some circumstances, the brain might be different. In reality, Facebook cannot threaten anyone’s lives, but can only cause some people to become addicted.
Social networks can also be seen in a positive way for young adults. In an article by Robert and Paris Strom called “Growing Up with Social Networks and Online Communities,” the authors state “Social network blogs like Facebook serve other constructive functions that adults frequently fail to sec. Having someone pay attention to your opinions and give honest feedback on behavior can support growth.” Teens can communicate with each other and express the way they feel to their friends rather than their parents. As teens post their emotions and thoughts, other peers read their postings and children get confirmation that they are not alone in how they feel. They create connections and benefit by gaining more confidence in themselves. Social media is not messing with our heads; it’s helping different individuals become less timid about their emotions.
As families grow and expand, some move to different areas which make it difficult to communicate. But social networks make it easier for families to communicate with each other and be able to know what each family member is up to. An article called “Facebook Keeps Families in Touch” demonstrates how “Facebook and Skype are a great way for [older people] to keep track of the lives of people who are important to them” according to Doug Shadel, Washington State director of AARP. Hal Mozer, who is 84, views pictures of his daughter’s family in New Jersey and sees quick updates about his teen grandkids.
I have experienced this benefit myself. I can Skype with my family in Bolivia, South America, and it is great to be able to see and talk to family that is far away. Facebook and Skype have essentially connected me to my family in Bolivia. There is a small chance that they can come here to America, so whatever connection I can make through social networks means a great deal to me and other relatives. It creates better relationships between families and helps keep us in touch.
Social Media is also used to help children progress in academics. Elizabeth Delmatoff began a Facebook-like forum where students were completing assignments for no extra credit. In “The Case for Social Media in Schools” by Sarah Kessler, she notes that “When [3rd and 4th grade teacher] Hardy started using blogs to teach, he developed his own platform to avoid some of the dangers associated with social media use and children. His platform allowed him to monitor and approve everything the children were posting online, and it didn’t expose his students to advertising that might be inappropriate.” Elizabeth Delmaroff and Matt Hardy realized the social networks were not going away so they managed to figure out a way where their students can use social media in a safe and fun way. The schools blocked social media because of the Children’s Internet Protection Act, as it keeps children away from “potential harm on the internet”(Kessler). But these teachers managed to teach their students how to properly use the internet and increase their grades.
Greenfield and DiSalvo argue that social media is “infantilizing” the brains of children. But it is nonsense to suggest that social networks can “rewire the human brain.” New technology and social networks can make people afraid of something new, but all you need is some research and experience. Social media can benefit many and have a positive outcome. The negative thoughts come from those who believe that social networks are rotting children’s brains, and they are completely wrong.
Social media is not going to disappear; as a matter of fact, they are only going to continue to expand. Since social media is unavoidable, it is best to teach it to others so that they can use it appropriately and safely. When parents tell their children, “Don’t go on Facebook!” most children go against their parents and still manage to get online. A parent should be able to freely talk to their children about social networks. If parents don’t know about what these media do, a child can show the parent why the networks are beneficial. Once the parent understands the concept of it all, they will be more open and willing to learn more.
I can understand where critics are coming from. If I were in a position where a social network took over one of my relatives’ lives, it would have concerned me too. But this argument can only be taken to a certain extent because after learning of all the benefits of social media, my opinion would change. Once the reader, parent, or teacher understands the beneficial things that social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Skype achieve, it will be easier to deal with the situation.
One important matter, however, is the safety of children. There are predators in social networks, but it better to make children aware that not everything in this medium is safe, and parents should be careful with what kind of “friends” their child has. Although making friends can be good for children, it is unsafe when a sudden stranger wants to create a conversation with a child. A parent must always be aware of what their child does on social networks. The children’s safety is essential in everything. All parents must teach their children the proper way to use these media, and be involved with what their children do.
There are many opinions about Facebook, ‘chats’, and other social media because it is a controversial topic. Those who use ebook or MySpace don’t see these as negative. Those who are against social media only see the flaws in it. These social networks are beneficial, connecting us to families and friends. Our technological advances are only going to continue to grow, and it is better to teach what is occurring in the world, and learn together. Children can have fun using these networks and can even be educated. With all these examples, it is quite clear that social media can be of essential use to everyone.
DiSalvo, David. “Are Social Networks Messing with Your Head?: Scientific American.” Are Social Networks Messing with Your Head?: Scientific American. Scientific American, 29 Dec. 2009. Web. 04 Dec. 2012.
Ho, Vanessa. “Facebook Keeps Families in Touch.” AARP. 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2012.
Kessler, Sarah. “The Case for Social Media in Schools.” Web log post. Mashable Tech. 9 Sept. 2010. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.
Nusca, Andrew. “Will Facebook ‘infantilize’ the Human Mind?” ZDNet. 24 Feb. 2009. Web. 04 Dec. 2012.
Strom, Paris, and Robert Strom. “Growing Up With Social Networks and Online Communities.” Education Digest 78.1 (2012): 48. Ebsco Host. Web. 2012.