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Memo To Parents and Society: Teen Social Media "Addiction" Is Your Fault 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-letting-the-children-outside? dept.
FuzzNugget writes "Wired presents this damning perspective on so-called social media addiction: 'If kids can't socialize, who should parents blame? Simple: They should blame themselves. This is the argument advanced in It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, by Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd. Boyd ... has spent a decade interviewing hundreds of teens about their online lives. What she has found, over and over, is that teenagers would love to socialize face-to-face with their friends. But adult society won't let them. "Teens aren't addicted to social media. They're addicted to each other," Boyd says. "They're not allowed to hang out the way you and I did, so they've moved it online." It's true. As a teenager in the early '80s I could roam pretty widely with my friends, as long as we were back by dark. Over the next three decades, the media began delivering a metronomic diet of horrifying but rare child-abduction stories, and parents shortened the leash on their kids. Politicians warned of incipient waves of youth wilding and superpredators (neither of which emerged). Municipalities crafted anti-loitering laws and curfews to keep young people from congregating alone. New neighborhoods had fewer public spaces. Crime rates plummeted, but moral panic soared. Meanwhile, increased competition to get into college meant well-off parents began heavily scheduling their kids' after-school lives.'"
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Memo To Parents and Society: Teen Social Media "Addiction" Is Your Fault

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  • yes and no (Score:5, Informative)

    by fermion (181285) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:28PM (#45792431) Homepage Journal
    By the time I was a teenager in 80's, that is 13-19 years of age, the back by dark rule was being relaxed. I had homework to do so mostly I came home as school ended and did it and other things. I recall my older siblings doing the same, unless they had work, and spending endless hours on the phone talking to their friends. On non school nights and in the summer we would spend quite a bit of time out after dark.

    Here is what I see vis a vis the new constant communication paradigm. I see a lack of discipline. I see kids at school who need in constant communication with their parents. I see adults at work who need in constants communication with their lovers, thier spouse their kids, and whoever else will make them feel valuable as a person.

    This is a great change from the 80's when I talked to my parents maybe in the morning, definitely checked in by phone after school, than saw them whenever we both were home. I talked to my friends at school, where we made plans for whatever nefarious activities we might want. When I started college and later working, I certainly did not spend the whole day texting everyone. Honestly, at college I was normally around the people I wanted to be around, and a work I already generally knew what I needed to know for after work. I did not have to spend the day, as one ex-coworker of mine spend the day texting to try to come up with some activity for the evening.

    What I see here is pretty typical teenage logic, which is developmental appropriate, but hardly a major finding. If the lawgivers do not let me do what I want, I will find some way to circumvent it, and if it is bad it is their fault for making the law. In this case, i can't go wherever and whenever I want, so I will instead play with social media, and if it causes problems it is not my fault.

    Seriously though setting limits and fighting such logic is an important part of child rearing. There was a case in West Virginia where this girl was murdered by her two best friends, which was possible because she was allowed to sneak our of the house. There are cases of other children killing themselves over bullying because they cannot put down their phones and so are constantly receiving bullying texts. There is also cases where kids are getting really messed up sleep wise because they cannot put down their phones.

    There is really nothing special about this, and there is really nothing new. We always need to learn to live with technology, and parents need to help children learn to live with it. In some ways this is like TV where a new generation of parents really did not know how to balance the TV with the development of the child. It is certainly not the parents fault that it was a better choice to have a kid come home and watch tv instead of running unsupervised outside.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @10:26PM (#45792733)

    Who to blame, who to blame?

    Who is to blame for what? TFA presents no evidence (other than conjecture) that teens actually interact less face-to-face than earlier generations. It also presents no evidence (other than conjecture) that using Facebook is harmful. So there is no reason to believe either that the "problem" exists or that it is a problem.


  • by Midnight_Falcon (2432802) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @10:34PM (#45792789)
    Oh yeah, to add to this, we moved when I was in 6th grade within NYC. We moved from a neighborhood that had been built in the late 1800s to one that had been built in the 1970s. The new neighborhood, while much nicer, had few public spaces for kids to play -- just one park attached to a school that was frequently gated/closed. Kids could also bike for about an hour to get to another larger public park in an older neighborhood. Once they turned 16, quickly those who could afford it got cars and started hanging out literally driving around the neighborhood. I'm sure these same kids are doing that now on their smartphone or just sitting at home.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @10:58PM (#45792897) Journal

    Jesus you sound just like my parents. If your son is happy why don't you leave your son alone and mind your own business.

    Ok, so, I'm having a similar problem with my daughter, also 19. The answer to your question is easy. You're an adult. It's my house. I have no intention of keeping you as a pet. If you're working towards something in good faith, a job, or an internship, or college, I'll support that. But if you're just going to sit on the couch, you can do it somewhere else.

    Because, I'll say this again to be certain we're communicating -- pause the game so you can hear me -- It's. My. House. Not yours. As an adult you live here because I let you live here.

    In your particular case, it might be time to set down the controller and figure out what you're going to do for the rest of your life. Oh, depending on the character of your parents, you may be able to occupy that couch indefinitely. I've seen it happen -- a guy I went to high school with, is still living with his mother in his fifties. Yes, I did say fifties. But I suspect that kind of situation is rare and I'm not sure that depending on it is a good career plan.

  • by jandersen (462034) on Friday December 27, 2013 @04:31AM (#45794389)

    ... teens actually interact less face-to-face than earlier generations ...

    I wonder how old you are? Not far out of your teens?

    This is not to belittle your opinions, but although the article doesn't present any evidence, it is something that rings true to me, having grown up in a pre-PC and -internet age. When I was a child, it was common - expected, even - that you let your children go out on their own every day after school without worrying much about what they got up to. I never once got driven to school - I had a bicycle, and it was only about 3 km (a couple of miles, for the metrically challenged) along a country lane with only the occasional lorry barreling past. And what do children do when they are on their own? They find other children their age and play, working out their social skills together.

    But nowadays parents molly-cuddle their children, so they hardly ever get to scrape a knee or get into minor trouble - get themselves good and dirty. I don't think they lack social skills so much as the freedom and opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives - there is always a parent to head off any trouble they might get into, until they move away from home, and they find themselves unprepared for the amounts of shit that cascades into their lives. Social media and games wouldn't be so attractive, if they weren't such a convenient way to get away from over-protective parents, I think.

"Regardless of the legal speed limit, your Buick must be operated at speeds faster than 85 MPH (140kph)." -- 1987 Buick Grand National owners manual.