Social networking can harm us socially

Today, there are thousands of social network websites online, if not more. Nearly every AHS student has heard of them, especially the two main ones, Facebook and MySpace. A recent National School Boards Association survey reported that over 70% of teenagers visit a social networking site at least once a week. There are many different social networks on the internet, not just ones for people who simply want to socialize. People can even create their own online communities, adding to the multitude of already existing ones. But is our generation using social networks to its advantage by connecting with others or just wasting its time staring at the computer screen? Social networks are whatever their users make them. Oftentimes they provide places for people with similar interests or difficulties (like specific illnesses) to unite and share their experiences. Some social networks overflow with meaningless chatter while others exhibit intellectual thought, but most possess some of both. Our generation should be careful regarding its use of social networks. Oftentimes it is easy to spend an hour or two chatting or browsing through profiles without even realizing how much time has passed. However, over-involvement in online communities can cause one to develop misguided values and beliefs. For example, some social networks emphasize collection of friends instead of cultivation of friendship. This causes some people, particularly young people, to believe that having a large number of friends will satisfy their innate desires to display social status. There are even websites, like, that sell fake Facebook and MySpace friends. Another way overuse of social networks can be harmful is that they sometimes replace the development of real friends and community in real life. Young people are supposed to learn communication skills in the context of real life, but some are in fact learning them in the context of the internet. A difference is that on a website like Facebook, one knows everything instantly about people from their profile instead of learning those things gradually through discovery in an “old-fashioned” friendship. It is easy to lose, or not even develop, one’s real-world conversation skills because one never uses them. Of course, these problematic effects of social networking probably seem trivial and overstated. Most of the time, social networks are valuable because they introduce us to interesting people from around the world that we wouldn’t normally meet. However, the impact of social networking on our generation’s lives and the lives of future generations can only intensify, due to the continuing increase of internet users. We should keep in mind that like most everything, social networking is good only in moderation.