There is no secret that social networking has become an integral part of the present-day reality. Personal conversations are no longer as popular as they used to be in the recent past, and live communication has been substituted by its virtual equivalent. It goes without saying that there are a number of advantages in communicating online; however, the latter also possesses a lot of negative features, not to mention the fact that it ousts live communication out and, therefore, can trigger further complexities in teenagers’ interaction in reality.
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To be fair, one must introduce the key advantages of social networking first. As a matter of fact, there are a number of issues that make social networking worthwhile, and the key one is the pool of opportunities for learning, experiencing and getting new skills. As Godwin stresses, such applications as Innovative Language Learning (Godwin 5) are no longer something out of the ordinary. Hence, learning opportunities for teenagers is a massive advantage of social networks.
However, when speaking about the negative impacts of the social networking and the way it shapes teenagers, one must take into account the reasons which stand behind a teenager’s decision to create a profile in a social network. According to the recent researches conducted by Danah Boyd, what attracts teenagers in online networking is the fact that they can get closer to their idols, i.e., movie/music stars, DJs, etc.
Herein lies the difference between the behavior of an adult and a teenager in a social network system: “While many adults find value in socializing with strangers, teenagers are more focused on socializing with people they knew personally and celebrities that they adore” (Boyd 121-122).
Hence, for teenagers, social networking functions as a worldwide fan club, which also affects the communication negatively, focusing it on a single aspect. In addition, though social networking does score a couple of points for the above-mentioned feature, it is still necessary to admit that the given means of communication has failed to improve some of the issues which appear regularly in the course of live communication among teenagers.
For instance, the problem of social outcasts, weirdly enough, exists even in online social networks, such as MySpace and others. According to the research conducted by Costa, Beham, Reinhardt, and Sillaots, in which students were to engage into microblogging, “Some respondents also alluded to the fact they decided to adopt a more passive approach, as they preferred to take part in the microblogging activity as observers and not engage fully with it (Costa, Beham, Reinhardt, and Sillaots 7).
Hence, social networks in general and microblogging in particular do not solve communicational problems – instead, they take it to another level. For those, who find communication difficult in reality, online networking is not a chance to engage in a conversation incognito, but to watch the others communicating. Hence, the feeling of loneliness is enhanced and the decision to stay away from socializing is undertaken with even greater conviction.
Nevertheless, social networking has a lot to offer, and one of the most alluring offers is its incredible accessibility. What used to take days and even weeks, e.g., sending a friend a letter, now takes less than a millisecond. In addition, the information can be squeezed to the size of a nutshell, which is also a huge advantage.
As Catanese, De Meo, Ferrara, Fiumara and Provetti explain, “The growing accessibility of the Web, through several media, gives to most users a 24/7 online presence and encourages them to build an online mesh of relationships” (Catanese, De Meo, Ferrara, Fiumara and Provetti 1).
Still, it seems that computer networking and its effect on teenagers is yet to be researched. Among the most important concerns that arise in the course of analyzing people’s behavior online and comparing it to the one in real life, the tendency to develop a virtual self should be mentioned.
As Best, Krueger, Hubbard and Smith specify, the decisions of the Internet users are quite different from the ones of the people without the access to the Internet. Creating multiple online personalities, one can finally end up in a stressful state or even in a depression. While the emphasis on the importance of online communication is important, such facts as losing one’s own identity in the multiple online clones must not be swept under the rug either.
According to the arguments mentioned above, it can be concluded that both live communication and social network have their positive and negative aspects, especially when considering them not only from a psychological standpoint, but also in terms of studying and international communication. Therefore, it must be admitted that none of the alternatives should be eliminated completely for the sake of the development of another one.
Although the newest technology can offer efficient communication between the teenagers who can be in completely different parts of the world at the moment of the conversation, it still hinders personal communication much.
However, it opens great perspectives for the entire world and its further development. Hence, supporting the evolution of the social networking as an efficient communication medium, it is also required to encourage live conversations and make it clear that social networking is merely one of the many options existing.
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Best, Samuel J., Brian Krueger, Clark Hubbard, and Andrew Smith. “An Assessment of the Generalizability of Internet Surveys.” Social Science Computer Review. 19.2 (2001): 131-145.
Boyd, Danah. “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.” Youth, Identity, and Digital Media. Ed. David Buckingham. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge MIT Press. 2008. 119-142. Print.
Catanese, Salvatore, Pasquale De Meo, Emilio Ferrara, Giacomo Fiumara and Alessandro Provetti n. d., Extraction and Analysis of Facebook Friendship Relations. PDF file. 4 Dec. 2012. <http://cogprints.org/7668/1/SN-76.pdf>.
Costa, Christina, Guenter Beham, Wolfgang Reinhardt, and Martin Sillaots 2008, Microblogging in Technology Enhanced Learning: A Use-Case Inspection of PPE Summer School 2008. PDF file. 4 Dec. 2012. <http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-382/paper3.pdf>.
Godwin-Jones, Robert. “Emerging Technologies Mobile Computing Trends: Lighter, Faster, Smarter.” Language Learning & Technology, 12.3 (2008): 2-9. PDF file. Web.