Life as a teenager is complicated enough. Add Facebook into the mix and you have a whole other layer of complexity to the already complex social interactions of teens. With the ubiquity of technology in our kids’ lives, there has been so much speculation on the kinds of effects it has on them.
A recent presentation by Larry D. Rosen, PhD, professor of psychology at California State University uncovered the many goods and bads of Facebook for teens. One of which is Facebook’s negative effect on a child’s study habits. If you consider the multimedia experience kids are surrounded with (cell phones, computers, portable gaming systems), it makes sense that frequently checking Facebook causes constant interruption and distraction. Rosen found that middle school, high school and college student who checked Facebook at least once during a 15-minute study period achieved lower grades.
Other adverse effects of Facebook among teens are that they tend to be more narcissistic and prone to anxiety and depression.
But, wait. Before you run to the computer to delete your kid’s Facebook account, Rosen also found some positive influences of Facebook including kids being more empathetic and helping introverted adolescents learn to socialize better.
So how can parents better navigate the tricky world of Facebook and online interactions with their teens? As with anything, communication is key. Rosen says, “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 adds, “The ratio of parent listen to parent talk should be at least five-to-one. Talk one minute and listen for five.”
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