“While nobody can deny that Facebook has altered the landscape of social interaction, particularly among young people, we are just now starting to see solid psychological research demonstrating both the positives and the negatives,” said Larry D. Rosen, PhD, professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Rosen gave a talk at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association titled “Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids.”
In his presentation Rosen detailed the possible damaging effects of social media, which are:
Still, before you freak out about social media, just know that Rosen also said that new research has also identified some good stimuli that are linked to social networking like:
Rosen also took a minute to offer his professional advice to parents: “If you feel that you have to use some sort of computer program to surreptitiously monitor your child’s social networking, you are wasting your time. Your child will find a workaround in a matter of minutes,” he said.
“You have to start talking about appropriate technology use early and often and build trust, so that when there is a problem, whether it is being bullied or seeing a disturbing image, your child will talk to you about it.”
He suggested parents judge the appropriateness of their child’s activities on social networking portals, and talk about removing unacceptable content or connections to people who might offer a bad influence. In the digital age parents should spend time becoming familiar with the latest online trends and technologies along with the websites and applications children are using, he said.
“Communication is the crux of parenting. You need to talk to your kids, or rather, listen to them… The ratio of parent listen to parent talk should be at least five-to-one. Talk one minute and listen for five.”
Taken as a whole, social networking impacts children in ways that most people would expect it to. The biggest question the study leaves us with is: How much different is virtual empathy from real life empathy? And how is the development of virtual feelings different from the development of real feelings in general?
At the very least, this research presentation could be used a foundation for more detailed research on the impact that social networking has on the human condition.