Facebook: the Anti-Social Network?

Facebook: the Anti-Social Network?

Social media sites like Facebook connect users with old friends, new acquaintances and everyone in between. However, studies are revealing an inverse link with online connections and deeper, face-to-face relationships.

Norwegian researchers recently developed a test for networking sites, called the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, which likens inordinate amounts of time spent on the networking site to drug and alcohol abuse. The test measures how often people use the site, if they do so to forget their problems and how using the site negatively affects their personal and working lives.

Researchers found the following groups of people most at risk for Facebook addiction:

Women, who are more social than men,
Young people, who are more tech savvy than older people
Anxious or socially insecure people

“Social media, and the new emphasis on the importance of ‘multitasking,’ have helped drive a wedge between family members,” says psychologist Gregory L. Jantz, author of #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking(www.drgregoryjantz.com).

Ironically, people become less social the more time they spend on social sites, and they tend to get less done while multitasking because they do not focus on completing one task at a time, he says.

“When people abuse drugs and alcohol, they are trying to feel better, yet they are worsening their situation. We’re finding this is also true for those who spend excessive amounts of time on social networking sites,” he says. “Perhaps the hardest hit from social media addiction is the family unit.”

Parents should monitor their own time online to ensure it’s not further limiting the already shrinking amount of time available with their children, Jantz says. And they need to safeguard their children by monitoring their time, as well. Jantz suggests these questions for parents to ask themselves in gauging their kids’ media usage:

• How much time do your kids spend with various forms of media? There are plenty of distractions from homework. Estimate how much time your child spends with the television, internet, social networking sites, cell phone, Blu-rays and game systems. The more time spent with media, the lower a child’s academic performance, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

• How much time do your kids spend with you versus online media? Remember, simply being in the same room isn’t necessarily interacting. The less the scales tip in favor of human-to-human interaction, the more likely there may be a problem.

• Do you know how each device works and how it can be used? Familiarity with your children’s gadgets gives you a better perspective of what their habits may be like.

• What are the consequences of their tech habits, and what should be changed? Make a list of the good and the bad consequences of your family’s technology use. After comparing the two lists, consider changes that can turn negatives into positives.

“Technology continues at its accelerating pace, and we are in unchartered territory,” Jantz says. “Increasingly, social networking infiltrates our personal lives, but we need to remember that it is created to serve us, and not the other way around.”

2 comments to Facebook: the Anti-Social Network?

  • debbie

    Now, first I have to say my son is older, and he can make his own choices.
    Facebook is a real dilema to me. He has his own account, and I leave it alone. My dilema is this. My mother and sister(mainly my sister) has an account and asked for him to be a friend. She is very judgemental of both him and me. I have as little to do with her as possible. She is a very cruel and nasty women. But, they are our only family. The final straw was my mother telling me,my sister says that he is lazy and should be working. He is on the autism scale, has major depression issues, and we are waiting to see if he needs a fourth major surgery in less than 3 years. She has absolutely no compassion or caring towards him at all. When I heard this, I asked him to unfriend them. I honestly want nothing to do with either of them. He just can’t understand this. Having acess to him on facebook, they know what is going on in our lives, and I just can’t have that. He really lost it when I asked him. I very carefully tried to explain what had happened. But, he just doesn’t get it. He unfriended them, just to please me. He was so upset (and it brought up alot of behaviors I haven’t seen in awhile) so I finally just said go ahead and friend them again. He did. Now I am getting constant calls from my mother. I really don’t know what to do. The ironic thing is, I don’t even have a facebook account that I use for myself.
    Any advice would surely be appreciated.

    • Tammy L

      Wow, that’s a difficult situation to be in. I’m not really sure what to say – to have him be upset is not good, but to always have to be answering to negative reactions from your family isn’t good either. Perhaps you could make a Facebook account yourself so that you can nip any issues in the bud right there might be a solution.

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