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Ask a Teen

Social Networking

What it Means to Your Teen

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I wasn't allowed to access social networking throughout grade school. My parents didn't believe that it was the best thing for a twelve year old—and they were probably right. As each year went by, the more pressure I received from my peers. I remember hearing about my friends being on Myspace and becoming the center of attention, even if it was nothing but drama. Rumors, bullying and disagreements all occur while being connected to social networking. After all of this experience, I realized that teens should reach a certain age before they have access to social networking and be held accountable for their actions.

Cyberbullyingalert.com states, "Recent studies shows that 58% of 4th through 8th graders reported having mean or cruel things said to them online. 53% said that they have said mean or hurtful things to others while online. 42% of those studied said that they had been "bullied online," but almost 60% have never told their parents about the incident." Considering the sheer number of kids who have been bullied or who have bullied someone else, parents are often never aware of the events occurring. Monitoring your child can play a huge role in his life and change how he expresses his feelings.

Tabitha Redd, 11, says, "Social Networking has made a huge impact on my job. I communicate and work with people through my networks. Although I do my jobs online, I'm also very aware of my surroundings and what is being said to me and said to other people besides me." Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites can make huge impacts on the way that people communicate. It can help people with work, keeping in touch with family members or just trying to fit in with peers—but that's the problem. Kids are spending too much time on these networks in an attempt to fit in, especially when there are so many different ways to connect with people and peers.

Teresa Boone, 10, says, "It depends on the way that you use Facebook and MySpace. If your intention is to keep in touch with friends at different schools or family in different states, then it's a good source to use. But if you're using it just to fit in and to start lots of drama just for attention, then you're using it all wrong." Many adults are using these networks for good causes such as work or to keep in touch with people. Although many adults are using them, I feel as if adults are the ones setting the right (or wrong) example for their own children. Allowing teens to be on these networks allows them to expose information about themselves that most likely shouldn't be accessible to the public. Many conflicts can be caused by not having enough control over what your child is doing, which is why setting limits is imperative.

Austin Rumer, 12, says, "I've never really been into networks online. Even though I do have a Facebook, I'm very careful of what happens on them with me. I watch what I say, and make sure that it should not affect anyone." Children get on networks not caring about what is being said. If things are said to them, they're hiding it because they are scared about the consequences. Nick Klingsmith, 8, believes that people, who haven't reached the age of accepting consequences for their actions shouldn't be allowed on social networks.

"Most bullying occurs whenever children are online and they feel that they are pressured to say things to other people just to keep in the "popular group," says Madison Singleton, 8. But Ben Nommay, 10, and Graham Gardner, 10, both say that kids get online because they think it is fun and keeps them entertained.

"I agree that kids do get online for fun, but having fun can be looked at many different ways from much different point of views. Adults look at being on networks totally different then children do because it's a new generation," says Paige Rawl, 9.

Ally Wessels, 12, thinks that it makes life easier and less hectic. Being that it makes life easier, Alexis Sims, 9, says that it also effects life just as much as it makes it complete.

The bottom line? Adults should take their child's social networking habits seriously, even if that means being in control of what they say to other people and what others say to them. Despite your teen's reluctance, monitoring and being proactive in your child's life is the most important social activity of all.

Abigail is a 15-year-old student at North Central High School. Her hobbies are cheerleading, softball and singing her heart out. She plans to attend Indiana University and major in English, but wants to become a doctor.

Tags: Tweens & Teens

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