By Monica Fiore
At least once in your life, I’m sure you’ve had an adult say to you, “We didn’t have that stuff when I was your age.” We mostly hear this when talking about technology; computers, iPods, smartphones, and the Internet, but we also hear it when talking about social media.
Jumping right into the problem, yes, it is true that these technological advances were not invented when our parents were young and yes, they had to do things we do in a more confined way. My question is: is that our fault? Is it our fault that Steve Jobs did not introduce the first iPhone until 2007? Is it our fault that Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t found Google until 1996? Was it up to us that Facebook was not created until 2004?
Taking into consideration this question, I have proposed a few reasons for why parents may have a problem with social media, aside from it being an unsafe place for teens to communicate with ANYONE.
Maybe our parents are jealous that we get to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites to share our biggest life events; engagements, weddings, graduations, and pregnancies, when they had to call up all their friends and family to tell them about these moments. Social media is clearly a much easier way to announce anything.
Maybe it’s because they are not tech savvy. I’m sure you would be lying if you said you’ve never had an adult ask you for help with something social media or internet related or simply just on their cell phones. Maybe it’s because they don’t know how to use the social media. I have a co-worker who sees how fast I can type on my phone and she is nothing short of fascinated.
Maybe it is because when we share our opinions on social media, they don’t like the opposing argument or maybe it is because they think what we post about is not worthy of being posted.
So, why do teens use social media? According to Danah Boyd, author of “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens,” the reason teens use social media is because they want a place to “hang out” and socialize.
“I think it is important to realize the underlying reasons why young people are engaging with social media are the same reasons that have always encouraged them to gather in physically grounded public spaces,” said Boyd. “They want to gossip, they want to flirt, they want to hang out, they want to joke around, they want to see and be seen. And all of that is really important because it is how identity is manufactured and understood. It’s how teens figure out who they are, along come these technologies at a time when these pressures have been building for decades and guess what, they are off to the races!”
She went on to say, “What’s important to realize is that young people’s relationship with the Internet is driven by their desire to socialize.”
We run into a dead end here because haven’t our parents wanted us to socialize with people our whole lives? Wouldn’t there be something wrong with us if we didn’t socialize? The reason I have social media is because I like socializing with people and I think my parents should be proud of that because I was once a shy kid. I wouldn’t let people touch me or hug me. However, I came out of my comfort zone and am now a very social person.
I feel the most effective reason for parents not liking our social media is because they are irritated because they want our attention. I do believe that our parents make a big fuss about our technology and social media because we are more absorbed in the interactions with people online than the conversations with the people right in front of us.
An article from Family Safety Teentor touches base upon the effects that social media may have on teens.
“While social media addiction can happen to anyone, there is no doubt that children are especially prone to developing this problem. There is nothing inherently bad with interacting with friends online or exchanging the photos, but for a lot of children the line between the virtual world and offline reality can become quite blurred. The role of the parents in this age of social networking is to be aware of the dangers and not let the child escape the reality by completely submerging oneself in the illusion created by the social media.”
I do agree that some teens are addicted to social media and communicating with people through technology; however, I believe that no matter how much social media you are absorbed in, your parents’ reaction remains the same. They will make a fuss because you would rather communicate with your friends online than with them. I do not happen to see this as a bad thing. I think this is a phase teens go through because they have this technology that is made available to them, which is not a bad thing. I honestly do believe they will get bored with it eventually and resort back to communicating with people one on one.
Personally, my father will make comments like, “How many times did you post today?”, or he’ll see that someone started an argument on my Facebook because of something I shared and make a comment. Yes, I am a “social butterfly” and yes, I state my opinion. However, there is nothing wrong with posting a few times a day. Just because someone doesn’t like it doesn’t make it wrong. I’d also like to add that it is not my fault if someone does not agree with my opinion and gets bent out of shape about it. If they want to start a fight about it on my Facebook, that’s fine. Just don’t blame me for it just because I stated my opinion.
According to an article from Wired, parents are to blame for the reason teens are so addicted to social media.
“Parents of America: The problem is you; the solution is you. If you want your kids to learn valuable face-to-face skills, conquer your own irrational fears and give them more freedom. They want the same face-to-face intimacy you grew up with. “Stranger danger” panic is the best gift America ever gave to Facebook.”
With that being said, perhaps parents should spend more time helping us develop social skills rather than complaining about the social skills we have formed ourselves.