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Facebook and Kids: An unhealthy habit?

WASHINGTON- Since its creation Facebook has millions of users globally of varying ages. Facebook in itself has become much an adjective as persons are seemingly ‘Facebooking’. Kids are now spending more hours on Facebook rather than engaging in other holistic activities, a trend which many see as unhealthy.

Many psychologists theorize that kids who spend hours on Facebook are more at risk for personality disorder, paranoia, anxiety and alcohol use. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills has over 25 years of experience researching the impact of technology on humans. Rosen also made a number of presentations which explore the impact of social networking sites such as Facebook on children still school.

At a recent address entitled “Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids” to the American Psychological Assn.’s annual convention in Washington, D.C. Rosen, commented that Facebook could be encouraging narcissistic tendencies in children. Rosen presented a number of facts, myths and offered guidance to parents.

Through observations, teenagers who spent more time sitting around the computer were more prone to stomach aches. Naccisstic tendencies were highly possible as Facebook provided a medium through which children can broadcast themselves at any hour of the day all day.

Rosen also mentioned that a group of middle school children who were observed to be checking Facebook did poorer on their exams than on the ones who didn’t use Facebook while studying.

Other social networking mediums such as texting are possibly harmful to children who constantly use the medium for communication. Such mediums are characterized by minimum face-to-face interactions. For children, the quality of the conversation is not important but rather the frequency of the interactions. Other studies have purported that writing skills have deteriorated as a result of shorthand typing such as 2G2BT (too good to be true), 4NR (forever) and every1 (everyone).

Rosen did however provide guidance for parents by encouraging them to talk to their children about how they use technology. He encouraged parents to also discuss the ramifications of using social networking site such as social gaffes. Rosen was also quick to point out that social networking sites did have a number of advantages in that it taught children a number of social skills such as virtual empathy and provide open channels for expression by introverted children. Social networks have the ability to become a powerful teaching tool as they already are able attract and engage students.

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