Teens and Social Networking

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As the times are changing and new inventions are being formed, the demand for technology over the past decade has increased dramatically. In the past, adults and adolescents would make handwritten letters and mail it to their peers as a main form of communication. Due to the advancement in technology, individuals have the capability to communicate with their peers within a millisecond. One form of communication that can be used among adolescents and adults is through social media. Social media is different applications formed that allow individuals to share components of their life through a networking system. With the use of social media comes the ability to easily interact with other individuals without having to meet them face-to-face. In today’s society, social media can be a helpful tool in changing a person’s life and possibly bringing positive influences into it. Some individuals struggle with making close friendships and others encounter the difficulty of long distance friendships. However social media has the capability to spread negativity, contribute to bullying, and may cause agruments between friends. As most individuals lives are beginning to be public for the world to see, it can be difficult to maintain close intimate friendships over social media. While many individuals believe that social media can have positive effects on friendships, it has a tendency to promote more isolation than true friendships.

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Although social media provides individuals with the ability to develop friendships, the lack of interaction and face-to-face communication may cause them to feel detached from their friendship. With social media being a large component of our everyday lives, it can be difficult to turn off social media while spending quality time with friends. According to the Boston University News Service, social media can become a distraction for friendships when they are communicating face-to-face. Many individuals nowadays spend their time together scrolling through their phone checking to see what others are up to, opposed to paying attention to the person right in front of them. Evidence from a study conducted showing the effects of social media by Amanda Lenhart at Pew Research Center, shows that nearly 76% of all teens use social media. Due to this large percentage of teenagers that are involved in social media, it is likely that while friends are together, both will be engaged in social media during their time together. Since people are spending such a large amount of time on social media, it can make friends spend less time with one another. Despite this argument, evidence from the same study at Pew Research Center, shows that 83% of teenagers that use social media feel more connected to their friends (Lenhart). Regardless of this evidence, the consequences that come with spending a great amount of time on social media while with friends outweigh the benefits of feeling more connected.

While social media contributes to the feeling of detachment in friendships, it can also make an individual feel unfamiliar with a friend that portrays a persona on social media. Research done by Keena Alwahaidi demonstrates the fakeness portrayed by people on social media. With having the ability to hide behind a screen, it allows people to put out specific content that they want others to view. They have the option to change their image online and be a different person, rather than who they really are in an everyday setting. This can change one’s perspectives on that person’s life, and as a friend, make them wonder if they are being fake or lied to. While many individuals believe that people put out a persona on social media, others believe that they have the ability to express themselves in a way that cannot be done offline (Lenhart). According to Lenhart and the study conducted about social media and the effects on friendship, shows that individuals get to share different sides of themselves on social media. Most of the teenagers surveyed believed that social media gives others the capability to be less authentic and show a different side to themselves. Although they can show different sides to themselves, being less genuine demonstrates that they aren’t really being real and true to themselves. Thus contributes to having a false image or persona being portrayed on social media. This false image affects friendships, because it can make the other person in the friendship feel unfamiliar and as though they are faking their friendship.

Along with the false image that can be presented, social media can also cause a disconnect amongst friends. Within social media, individuals are striving for a specific number of followers, likes, and comments to achieve some sense of self-worth (Dankin). However, all of these factors lack intimacy and have no real connection between the person who posted it and the person who liked or commented. From research done at UCLA, published by Pauline Dakin, suggest that participants on social media are looking for personal support and affirmation from ‘likes’ and feedback to their posting. Dakin also states that friends who communicate more through social networking rather than in person, feel less connected to that person. This occurs because the likes or comments people are receiving on social media have no true sentimental value attached to them. According to Dunbar, someone may be sympathetic or show emotion over social media platforms when you are in need of emotional support, however, it is completely different than someone showing this in person which allows you to connect (qtd. in How Social Media). Social media causes a lack of intimacy among two or more friends that can cause friendships to deteriorate. Another idea that demonstrates a disconnect that may occur, comes from feeling betrayed by being left out (BU News Service). Social networking has become such a popular concept that teenagers and many adults feel the need to share what they are doing at all times. Nearly half of teens have seen events or parties they were not invited to on social media (Lenhart). Not being invited to an event can cause a feeling of betrayal and uncertainty. They will begin to feel left out, which may develop into stress, anxiety, and depression in the future (Cassano). Despite concerns with feeling disconnected that may form, 70% of teenagers believe that they feel connected to their friends over social media (Lenhart). However, due to the lack of intimacy that can arise from social media, it promotes forms of competition, arguments, and jealousy, that are not components of healthy friendships.

Although the complex world of social networking exhibits many different benefits that can be helpful towards friendships, the consequence of isolation that can result in friendships over social media is much greater. Social media has the ability to make one or more people within a friendship have a strong feeling of isolation. This feeling can be caused by the lack of face-to-face interaction, a false image that one is portraying on social media, the lack of intimacy, or competition. When communicating through social media, individuals have the ability to hide behind a screen and don’t get the close interaction that friends generally have. Without this face-to-face interaction, it can make individuals in friendships feel less connected to one another. Along with the ability to hide behind a screen, it allows people to be different online than they are offline. All of these can contribute to one person feeling isolated or alone in the friendship. Despite the evidence that has proven the many benefits that are associated with friendships and social media, these do not compare to many of the consequences that can occur.

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Teens and Social Networking. (2019, Apr 10). Retrieved July 1, 2022 , from
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