By Sara Feldman
JOIN for Teens
Do you consider yourself a member of the generation that lives and breathes social media? Are you snap chatting, tweeting or texting on your phone while reading this blog? If you answered ‘yes,’ keep on reading. And if you know someone under age 25, you may also be interested.
I get to talk with a lot of teens at the Mitchell David Teen Center and in the Baltimore community. Recently I asked 15 teens, via Facebook, to share their thoughts on what they like and don’t like about social media. Here are some of their responses about the “pros” of social media.
• “Social media is an awesome way to see what your friends are up to and send them messages, even if they aren’t online. It’s great for when you have friends that you don’t always see.”
• “It allows me to say something and all my friends can see. I don’t have to repeat a story . . .”
• “Facebook is helpful for homework help and scheduling, because you can contact multiple people instantaneously to tell them about an event or party going on, or ask them questions about something that confuses you.”
• “Social media is the platform in which any given person can become a part of a widespread digital network.”
• “Social media is easy to use, and has provided quick access to hundreds of friends, family and acquaintances at the click of a button.”
Along with these comments, some thought social media is a mixture, with both benefits and drawbacks. They talked about how hard it can be to resist the temptation when you’re supposed to be doing something else.
• “My opinion is that it is helpful and entertaining, but also addicting and easily abused. Social media can be used to reconnect with friends which is wonderful (I use it now to make sure I stay in touch with my high school friends after graduation) but also it can be a huge distraction for things like homework. (I’ll admit to using facebook when i should be doing work, and then I end up procrastinating and becoming super stressed.)”
• “It’s a way teens keep in touch with people they know and … these sites tend to be addicting.”
A number of the people I spoke with noted that social media present some challenges, especially in the ways they are changing how we communicate with each other.
• “I feel like people aren’t communicating as well through social media as they would face to face. Sometimes I get in(to) unnecessary fights with friends since we don’t fully understand what they said on social media.”
• “No direct communication. Some things can be lost within social media like the emotion with the words.”
• “The generations to come won’t know how to communicate with people face-to-face whether it’s just a normal conversation or a job interview. People rely on social media sites for information rather than using their resources and finding things on their own.”
• My school had a situation where a random guy used an alias and was sexting with teenagers. (I don’t friend ppl I don’t know) but I have friends that friended him and he asked them if they wanted to see ‘things.’”
Because we’re able to communicate with each other so much faster now, our expectations have changed. What happens when you don’t get an immediate response through social media?
• “You get worried that they aren’t going to respond by the time you need them to and if you can see that they read the message, you start thinking about why they aren’t replying.”
• “I personally don’t get angry bc I’m very bad with answering right away but I’m sure other ppl get mad.”
• “It annoys me and it makes me keep checking social media until they respond.”
• “If I don’t get an immediate response and there is no logical reason for such, then I assume that the other person is not very interested in responding (to the) conversation.”
It’s worth thinking about these reactions and looking at our own use of social media. Maybe we’ll consider putting down the phone occasionally and enjoying a good old face to face conversation. We may be more cautious about what happens when we don’t get a quick response, or about who we friend on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Social media is changing our lives, and we can choose how we want to use it to communicate.
Of the 15 teens the favorite Social Media Sites: Twitter (6), Facebook (5), Instagram (3), Tumblr (1)
# Social Media Accounts: 3 ( 2 people), 4 ( 1 person ) , “I’ve lost count, probably over 10” ( 1 person)
Hours on Social Media: 1 hour (1), 2-3 hours (2), 6 hours (1), “maybe 2-3….but more if I have work I don’t want to do ”