Social networks are an important part of the life of youth. Facebook is the most important and most popular between social networks of today, with more than two billion active users as of today. The impact of Facebook on younger generation is very powerful.
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Facebook was born as a medium for young and it continues to be a favorite communication tool for a young generation. Facebook was founded on March 4, 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, a student at Harvard University. Facebook is the product of the students’ idea of how to make digital communication easier. They started sharing photos, writing comments on the events taking place at the university and actions of individual students. However, this system was limited to students of this university. Within weeks, however, Facebook was made available to other users. By the end of 2004, other American universities had joined at a rapid pace. Finally, the access to the system was made available to all users with an academic email address. Since February 27, 2006, some large companies have been able to sign up, and since August 11, 2006, anyone older than 13 can join. Today, the profile can be created by anyone who has a working email address and is over 13 years old. The information that you fill in your login is not verified. Only the birth date is entered if it corresponds to the age requirement of 13 years. There are differing opinions related to the impact of Facebook on the young generation. Supporters of the positive view claim that Facebook is beneficial for children of divorced parents. After divorce, it often becomes a communication channel for parents who do not have children every day. Even if parents do not agree on the conditions of how to work with children and one parent restricts the rights of other to spend time with children, they use the networks as an alternative solution. This is not a one-sided view.
Another positive contribution of Facebook is the one related to literacy. Research has found that youth on the net spend their free time mainly by chatting, watching their friends’ photos and reading their statuses. Although we may doubt the quality of the content of the messages that appear on the network, the profile on any network contributes to reading literacy. It is in the interest of every user who likes to chat so that he can read and understand the status of both peers and older people.
Creation of social networks is another of positive impacts of Facebook. Many children spend their leisure time using a computer for social networking. The positive contribution of all networks is that it enables personal communication, creates communities and groups, and copies social models in society (Tepper 54). Networks also greatly help people with disabilities, as they blur the visual differences between these groups. They can facilitate anti-racist education and bring the world of minorities and majorities closer together. Due to an anonymity dose, peers can communicate with practically anyone and also reveal non-primary visual features such as skin color, physical disability. Networks create a positive self-image for the members of minorities, but also for the less self-confident individuals, who are hard to replace the communication channel due to anonymity, in a world without visible signs of disability, signs of inadequacy.
However, the negative impacts of Facebook are potentially much more worrisome. One of the negative factors is the widespread cyberbullying. On social networks, bullying among youth occurs in several ways through presentation of false information. This information can be related to sexual orientation, size of the sex or information about bodily anomalies (Grover 2012). The affected users have very few options to defend themselves. It does not help to delete a profile because the victim can meet with peers at school.
Dishonestation of social status of the family is a frequent issue, disclosing the social situation of the family with defamatory expressions, photographs with ridiculous commentary, description or photos of clothes, derisions of the profession of parents. Even in this case, this way of defense is very difficult. Especially during puberty, young people are trying to identify patterns or brands in human society. According to brands, they belong to certain “castes” and determine their hierarchical importance. Mocking up family status can get pubescent into interpersonal conflict. Aggressive openness and lack of tact in devastating messages to specific people is often related to comments of personal photographs. Very often, aggression is present. Sexual context in comments regarding girls’ photos or, on the contrary, markedly positive responses that show signs of harassment are frequent (Diamandis 29).
By joining a peer group, adolescents gain a certain social status and sense of self-worth. Friends provide information and relationships are an area for gaining and testing their own social competencies. If teenagers do not join a peer group, they often feel a social stigma. Individuals with higher peer reviews usually have a higher degree of self-esteem than those who are rated less favorably. On Facebook, efforts to belong to peer groups are noticeable especially in closed group formations. In a class that is hierarchically divided with members who are part of a dominant group, some youngsters can decide to establish a closed group on the network. The other hierarchically ranked classmates are eager to join a group and are willing to buy a membership. It can be a gift to an administrator or everyone in a group, or a person is assigned a task. Once accomplished, it is accepted and gains the desired social status (Wicksteed 98).
One of extremely dangerous effects on communication in Facebook is trolling. Trolling is based upon several methods, such as spreading of hate mails and messages that are not based on facts and can be rather considered hoaxes. One of such cases is Linda Cortile abduction case, which became famous for extreme amount of unfounded and false attacks made against the case. Another method is based upon threats that are posted in social media. One of such cases is the famous case of Anthony Elis, who was convicted on the base of threats posted on Facebook (Fosdick 19). Spread of hatred through hate pages belongs to key methods of trolling. Hater is a person who writes about another person or group uncomfortable, annoying or distasteful things or criticizing their actions. Haters are loud and malicious Internet users who post to the world of insults and hate whenever someone or something disagrees. Their negative opinions spread and attacks on specific people or ideas. On the one hand, users may be pursuing a goal, but on the other it may be some who others provoke only for his (childish) entertainment. Milder manifestations of online hate (hate) are trolls, on the other side of the spectrum are found, for example, and militant racist users that their anger and hatred catching up to online violence or stalking and thus influence younger Facebook users that read their comments.
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