Social Networking Websites: Harmful Yet Beneficial

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Thesis: Social Networking websites like Myspace.com affect teenagers socially, emotionally, and academically. Social networking websites have been in use for more than a few years now and have been used to bring people, information, and ideas faster than ever. However teens in particular have taken to using these sites for a plethora of reasons (most of the time replacing real world reactions). “Social-networking sites are among the last unregimented environments for young people, places where they’re free to explore issues of personal and group identity. Members of such sites “write themselves into being” through their profiles….trying out personalities and slowly coming to understand who they are and how they fit” (source 6). These sites unfortunately also have a bad side along with the good they can do for teens. Teens are able to interact with others while at the same time define themselves and even more; sadly sometimes more is a bad thing. Overall these sites have proven to benefit and harm teens socially, emotionally, and academically. In total social networking websites have many effects on a teen’s social life. The effects can even shape his or her personal and group identities. Many teens have found it is easier to find new “friends” and leave old ones behind because of these sites. In often times teens have a set of real world friends and a set of online “friends” that they talk to separately. This distinguishing among people has more or less tipped in favor of the online friends. This is because social networking websites are much more open and brutal against what type of people others hang out with: especially if the friends an individual knows in real life happen not to be in the online friends’ clique. Myspace is so public and open teens have purposely excluded good friends because other people do not view them as “cool” or because they are “out of it.” It is essentially like when someone forgets about an old friend when they got to a new school, but it’s even worse. They give up on real people they know for the fake friends they make on Myspace and other sites. Another factor that ties in with this is the type of celebrities teens look up to or idolize. Myspace has been a place for people to communicate somewhat with celebrities or famous people in general. While this in itself is not a bad thing some industries have used social networking sites to popularize themselves much more among young adults. Teens are at a higher risk of idolizing celebrities or even porn stars by accessing and using these sites. In one instance a 14 year old girl commented “You are so gorgeous!” to a porn actress on a webpage that was filled with highly sexual language and content. Social networking sites have made it easier for people who are underage to access too many things meant only for the “adult” world and it can be damaging to some teens. “Premature exposure to pornography has the strong potential to result in a damaged child…pornography shortcircuits and “distorts the normal personality development” (14). This can be viewed as idolizing at its worst. Even in idolizing’s lightest form many teens become the oopah-loompahs of advertising for just about anyone. Some teens have become big influencers who are used, happy, and manipulated into feeling important. They are in contact with hundreds of other teens and are easily able to pass on the trends, good or bad, to others. However, social networking has had benefits for teens, especially in the music department. Music often has some type of impact on many teens’ lives in general and some social networking sites have made it much easier to get a hold of. Myspace is most likely the best site to find the music to define oneself on his or her webpage. Teens are able to select music that best suits them from an enormous list of songs and have them play automatically when they are or someone else is viewing...
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