The Effects of Social Networking Sites on the Youths of America
And use of Top social networking sites in America
By building on previous research in computer communications, this article attempts to explain the effects of social networking sites on the youths of America by raising two crucial issues concerning the same. 1) To what extent the social networking sites have influenced the lives of the American youths. 2) Whether the social networking sites have had more negative effects than positive ones. To respond to these questions appropriately, research that involved statistical analysis as well as integration of the views of various parties was carried out. While the results show that the social networking sites have had diverse effects on the younger generation, the balance between the positive and negative effects was roughly struck.
Social networking sites are arguably the greatest invention of the 21st century, bringing together the American youths as well as the older generations around the globe. Some of the most popular social networking sites include Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Friendster, Orkot and Xanga. Facebook came into wide usage in 2007 and has since then grown to become the most popular social site. The popularity of social networking sites is evidenced in statistical surveys which indicate that more than 70% of young adults in America use social networking sites. A survey by Lenhart (2007) also indicates that 55% of American teenagers between the age of 12 and 17 years use social sites.
In as much as social networking sites have facilitated a wider network of interactions and the creation of more friends; they have led the youths into driving a life of individualism, creating a self obsessed younger generation in America. This can be attributed to the fact that a major portion of the youth end up enclosing themselves in their rooms for more than eight hours in a free day chatting and interacting with their online friends. As a result, offline socialization has been adversely affected by online socialization, with the kind of interactions where people used to meet in specific locations and communicate face to face is slowly being done away with. This kind of lifestyle is likely to drain the sense of unity that exists in the society as the youth value distant friends on social sites than their physical counterparts within their surroundings.
One of the major concerns associated with social networking sites is undoubtedly the issue of the decline of privacy. Social sites like Facebook where people update almost everything about themselves, from their location, family, friends, photos, interests and contact information make it easy for such users to become easy targets of people with malicious motives (Lenhart, 2007). Even with the introduction of privacy policies in these sites, a person with ill intentions can still pose as harmless and befriend an unsuspecting user. Pictures which are not meant for the public eye have been known to go viral and psychologically harm the victims who in most cases happen to be the youth.
According to Danah & Nicole (2007), while interactions through the social sites have made them more knowledgeable in the general aspects of life, they have also contributed a lot to the decline in education among the youth. Reports given by high school teachers indicate that there is a high decline in academic levels than was projected to be for the 21st century. The decline took place mostly in the year 2006 when the social sites widely emerged. This decline has been associated with the ease in which the youth are being sucked into addiction by the social sites, leaving little and sometimes no time for studies.
Social networking sites have gone a long way in bridging the various disparities in society in that interactions within the sites mostly have little to do with the aspects that contribute to discrimination such as race, age, class or creed. Through these social sites, the youth have become more appreciative of the differences that exist between them and it is projected that it is only a matter of time before discrimination becomes a thing of the past. However, the same sites have facilitated discrimination themselves in that those financially unstable youths who have no means of accessing the internet services in America have turned out to be lonely after being shunned by their counterparts.
Exposure to knowledge is of essence to growing minds and the sooner this is done, the better. While social sites may be credited with exposing a vast majority of people to basic facts and common knowledge, the truth is that they have led to the exploitation of young minds. Considering that most of them have no restriction on age and persons as young as eight years can join, then this raises reason for concern. Where such persons are exposed to discussions of an adult nature, they may grow up with virulent opinions about such topics which may be unfounded.
Social sites have also contributed a lot to the exchange of culture, not just among the older people but among the youth as well. By interacting with their peers within the nation as well as around the globe, the youth in America have undergone a significant change in their views and general way of life. The gradual change in the mode of dressing and language is perhaps one of the best indicators of the growing exchange of culture owing to these sites. While the exchange of culture is a necessity for a given people in order to grow, these sites are to be blamed, to a large extent, for the erosion of culture. It is worth noting that the younger generation is becoming less appreciative of the native traditions and festivities such as Halloween and is increasingly viewing such traditions as outdated.
The significant effect of social sites on relationships cannot go unmentioned. Long distance relationships, be it between friends or family, have been heightened by these sites owing to the fact that they are arguably one of the cheapest modes of communication. This however has been at the expense of physical relationships with the younger generation getting the notion that online relationships are better placed to last than the old-fashioned physical relationships.