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Facebook and Co: Children/Adolescents and social networks

Facebook and Co.: Children/Teens and the social networks
Facebook and Co.: Children/Teens and the social networks
©: goldencow_images - Fotolia

Hardly any other achievement of modern technology has changed the lives of children and teenagers as the Internet. It is, in particular, the social networks that determine the daily lives of many young people almost entirely. Parents often are only partial or even not at all aware what’s going on.

Whether it is a date or to go out together, with a potential friend; a special someone he is eyeing for some or sending him an unequivocal love message. Maybe it’s only gossiping or getting stuck into an infamous teacher right down to everyday problems, almost all of the above is discussed on the internet and in particular on social media. Thanks to modern mobile phones and smartphones even the little ones can get on the Internet these days and meet up there with their friends and classmates.

Yet, how do these changes impact on the psyche and on the development of young people?

Experts point out that it is, in particular, the speed which increased, on how children and youth do their everyday things. For example, relationships are negotiated over the Internet or via Facebook and Co. Hooking up, negotiation and if needed ending the relationship, is all done via the internet. You only need one click and you are visibly “Single” for all Facebook users to see. You are on the “market” again. Of course, trial and error, particular in interpersonal relationships is part of growing up. Nonetheless, this should not get out of control. However, there is the problem for many young people. The possibilities are limitless and because there are no boundaries, young people using social media just like that. The young people missing out on boundaries and guidance where they could hold on to get through their daily lives.

Another big problem is the publicity on the Internet. Most young people do not know how to create their profiles on Facebook and Co so that it only can be seen by friends or a few other authorized persons. After all, it’s not only friends but also people they are not so keen on but still want to impress them. With the latest holiday photos, the new mobile, or just the latest gossip. Just about everything which impresses on the young person is shared on social media. However, a vicious cycle may develop, which might not been realized until it is too late.

It is shocking to watch how over the last few years the incidents of young people who after harassment and bullying, particularly on the social networks, no longer know what to do and commit suicide. One could argue that the parents have failed those young people. However, experts say, that would be too easy. With the continuously advancing technology parents lose more and more control over their children or what is going on in their children’s lives. That makes it harder for them to interfere when difficulties arise. The online conflict often is only discovered when it is already too late. Therefore it is crucial, that parents always talk to their children. Take a soulful approach to gain insight into the everyday life of their children, in particular when it comes to social networks. No child or young person will be upfront about being bullied on the Internet by peers. However, if parents persevere and show empathy, they will discover the tell-tale signs in their child’s life.

The Internet – a source of information

Social media with all its above-discussed possibilities, however, is not all that plays into young people’s life. The Internet also serves as "all-knowing" References. While not so long ago, people had to join groups and clubs to learn more about a certain interest. Today, young people go to the internet and watch the relevant video on YouTube to learn more in-depth details of their topic of interest.

However, a social bond of young people socialising with their peers is not established. On the contrary: Today, many children and adolescents are much lonelier than a few years ago when the Internet was already available, yet, its possibilities were still relatively limited. These days, many young people live more and more a virtual life in the virtual world, with the corresponding negative consequences.

Parents should, therefore, be mindful and encourage their children not to confuse their virtual world with the reality. The Internet and social networking sites should only be a supplement to the real life, not the only purpose in life. In this regard, parents can influence their children early by giving a good example. Regular outdoor activities, holidays, outings, etc. to show children that the real world has much beauty to offer. That it is not a necessity to seek refuge in a virtual reality.

Prevention by Media Training

More and more schools and other institutions offer so-called media training. It involves courses which will be taught to deal appropriately and responsibly with modern media such as the internet and the social networks. This involves issues such as bullying on the Internet or access to prohibited content or pages.

It is all about, to give children and young people a sense of potential dangers on the Internet. All too often this medium is handled way too lightly. Photos are shared on social network sites without thinking. This invites envy and bullying. Even worse, some of these pictures attract paedophiles. Therefore, it is critical to making children and adolescents aware, that without appropriate protective measures almost everyone has access to their photos and messages. It’s not always the case that young people would not take responsibility for their action. It is more the anonymity of the internet lures them into carelessness. The other part is unknowingness. Education in this area is highly needed.


Over the last few years, the internet and social networking gave us opportunities we did not even dare to think about. Suddenly, it is possible to network from virtually anywhere in the world and communicate with your friends. Images, documents, etc. can be shared with other users without any problems. Basically, no longer do you need to leave your house to communicate with others or to share experiences.

By now it is probably common knowledge that those opportunities also hold dangers. Many children and young people are increasingly lonely. They are victimised and bullied by social media and thereby suffer severe psychological damage. With suicide often the only resort. It is, therefore, paramount that parents and other educators always have a watchful eye on the activities of children and young people in social networks. Only this will give them the possibility to intervene as early as possible in the case of arising problems

[ © | 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work ] - 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work
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