The Pros and Cons of Social Networking for Teenagers: A Parent’s Guide
The phenomenon of social networking has taken today’s youth culture by storm. At the same time, it has raised serious concerns among the parents of these tech-savvy teens. Media reports of online predators, cyberbullies, ruined reputations, and other dangers have parents fearing the worst and wondering how to talk to their kids about the issue. What’s a parent to do?
First, take a step back and get to know the facts of the matter. Read on to learn about the proven pros and cons of social networking for teenagers.
What are the benefits?
It’s not just teenagers who think social networking is cool. Researchers and survey groups have found social networking provides many benefits. For example:
- Social networking is an extension of teens’ real-world friendships. It helps them enrich and manage their social lives.
- Socializing online can give shy, socially awkward teens a comfortable way to communicate -- one that’s less intimidating than meeting face-to-face. This can boost their self-esteem and help them practice their social skills.
- Teens with unusual interests or hobbies find kindred spirits online, giving them a place to share information and enthusiasm.
- Kids who have disabilities or other challenges can communicate with other teens with similar problems. This lessens their sense of isolation and allows for mutual support.
What are the risks?
Studies and surveys reveal that social networking exposes teens to certain risks. For example:
- Online bullying and harassment by peers, also known as cyberbullying. This may be the biggest online danger to kids. It’s often an extension of bullying that takes place at school but can be just as damaging, if not more so. Learn more about cyberbullying.
- Online predators. While being harassed or stalked online by adult predators is far less common than cyberbullying, any incident is one too many.
- Less face-to-face interaction with family and friends. Researchers are studying the effect of this trend on kids’ social development, but the long-term effects aren’t yet known.
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