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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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  • by dtmancom (925636) <[moc.namtd] [ta] [2nodrog]> on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:04PM (#45792315) Homepage raise a child poorly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:04PM (#45792317)

    If something like Facebook is available to teens, they will use it. And they do.

    What is with this "blaming" nonsense? What is all this talk about public spaces - where? Are we supposed to accept that the lack of facilities for youths exists throughout the Facebook-using world, or is Danah Boyd unable to think outside of her own local area?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:21PM (#45792409)

    Well, since its mostly talking about teenagers, which the parents usually don't allow to fully make their own choices, especially if it may reduce their safety, then yes, in this case I think we can blame the parenting.

  • really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:28PM (#45792433) Journal

    So what about the situation where the parent is addicted to social media but the child is not? This isn't a rhetorical question.

    I dunno, I think the idea that parents being over-protective driving children online is one of those things that's easy to prove anecdotally, because there are so many overprotective parents to choose from, and as a substantial number of children could be said to be addicted to social media, there would be a significantly large intersect between the two groups. But I wonder if there's really any meaning there.

    I think it is true that society (not just parents) has made it more of a challenge for children to interact with each other. Geeze, the grade school playground is looking more and more like something out of A Wrinkle in Time. (...Camazotz... ...Read a book!...) I think a case could be made that there are a number of factors involved, including the observation that if it's news, it's rare by definition even if it's not, for profit reasons, presented as such, and this has given the vast unwashed public, who as a group has a less-than-college-level understanding of statistics, some wrong ideas. (Incidents of people being hit by falling pianos up 100%! Panic!)

    I continue to believe that this tendency, if it exists, merely gives my daughter much shorter lines to stand in as she journeys through life, as more and more of her competition is staring at a screen when they should be doing something important. So I don't worry about it overmuch.

  • Media Distortion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:38PM (#45792489)

    The media distortion described is absolutely true. In the 24 hour cable news cycle, every kidnapping, abuse, or (dare I say) mass shooting is plastered across multiple networks for a couple days. People get the gut feeling that frequency of occurrence is high, because our brains are wired to treat news as local. If a cave man saw someone killed, he actually saw it. We are really bad at making the distinction that back in 1800 there were about a billion people, and now there are about 6x that, and back in 1800 if something didn't happen in your particular town you were unlikely to hear about it. So if in 1800 there was one kidnapping and teen murder every 20 years in your small town, it means today in a country of 300M you are going to be having them nearly constantly.

    OBTW, this is the same logic that produces kooky behavior to protect from mass killings. Yea, mass shootings are real, but the odds of your kid getting involved in one are about the same as winning the lottery, being eaten by a shark or hit by lightning. Not high enough to really worry about or change school policy, but we do anyway "just in case". The odds are way higher that your kid will get hit by a car or come down with cancer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @10:02PM (#45792603)

    Thanks for asking. The answer is that since he's my son he IS my business. His immaturity and inexperience prevents him from understanding the limit of his experience or realizing that the moment's pleasure is at the cost of a lifetime of happiness.

    My mission is to make sure that he enjoys his entire life. His gaming "addiction" is not a lasting happiness, like making friends and sharing experiences with them would be. It is more like an alcoholic temporarily hiding from their troubles.

    You are luck to have parents such as yours. But, you lack the experience and insight to realize it, yet.

  • by Midnight_Falcon (2432802) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @10:29PM (#45792761)
    My anecdote on the other hand -- myself -- does.

    My parents claimed they encouraged me to be more social and go out more with my friends, just like yourself. Instead I spent time on IRC and MUDs.

    The original article actually sort of reads like the story of my own childhood. I grew up in NYC under Broken Windows/Giuliani, when policing and keeping kids safe began to become at its peak.

    My mom watched an awful lot of daytime TV and abduction dramas -- she was warning me about being abducted from stores when I was four years old, constantly, until I was around sixteen and it was ridiculous.

    Of course, my mother being fed all these stories from the media, was very "overprotective." This meant she tried to listen in on my phone calls, would regularly search my room (not for drugs or anything ..this started before I even knew what drugs were...for notes I had passed out in class and things she could find to get more information about who my friends were and what were we doing). When I was 16 I found she had many of my friends' phone numbers in the back of her phone book -- many of those friends were from outside of school and she had to have gone through my things to find the numbers.

    What happened here? Well, I became adept at cryptography and communicating privately -- and started working at an ISP around age 12. I also spent a lot of time at home because she would prevent me from going to any events with friends (concerts), sleeping over anyone's house, etc etc. Ostensibly, she said "get out of the house", but in reality her conditions were too restrictive to actually encourage it.

    Once I got to college, I became a complete social butterfly. I threw big parties all the time and was extremely social, and I continue to be quite a social person today. I have little social media presence.

    After college I used the computer skills I had gotten as a teenager to start my career, which I continue in.

    It's not a sad story and it has a fine ending, but it totally matches the article. It's almost eerie reading it myself.

  • by epyT-R (613989) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @11:09PM (#45792945)

    I think it boils down to an extreme risk-aversion caused by a spike in artificial risk imposed by society on large percentages of interaction. This is done by people who have vested interests in either corralling behavior, or by people with axes to grind.

    1. Every time feminists get some new law passed that lowers the legal bar for girls to make accusations that stick, it increases the social and legal risks for boys and men who have little or no legal recourse for false accusations, both deliberate and those based on bad definitions. With those huge generalizations rattling inside their heads, girls are treating all boys as 'potential rapists.' This causes feral like behavior in both genders as their natural biological imperatives collide with these newspeak mantras. The smarter ones are abandoning the game altogether because they see the risks which leave the not so average ones to mate and reproduce. Playing video games is increasingly being seen as almost as fun and a lot safer, socially. Cheaper too.

    2. Schools' social dynamics are becoming more and more like prisons, with ever more extreme punishments for the tiniest missteps in following increasingly chaotic and nonsensical rules. A wrong word, or out of context statement overheard by the wrong person used to get the student a dressing down or 'demerit' slip. Now it lands the student in front of the school psychologist, who then comes up with some 'disease' to label him with, ruining his future opportunities.. The fact that schools are now reaching outside their domains and into the home is quite scary.

    3. Up through the 1990s, cruising around in cars was popular with teens until gas prices reached a point where few could afford to without parental gas allowance. There was a time in fact where a highschool teen could buy a shitbox car, fuel, and insure it, on the pittance earned at his part time job. This is not true anymore...or is becoming starkly less true as time goes on.

    4. The usual zomg, terrorists, zomg, pedophiles, zomg rapists, zomg drugs stuff hasn't gone away either. The only thing that has changed is the increasing ubiquity and homogeneity of its message. This reenforces its 'truthiness' and relative importance in people's minds.

    Obviously, this post overlaps what was said in the article. I agree with a lot of it. If anything, 'social' media is just the biggest convenient pothole for people to fall into when they see that taking IRL social risk has just become too risky.

  • Re:yes and no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @11:38PM (#45793081)

    You have an awfully strong reaction to me pointing out a nonsensical statement. I have to wonder though, what kind of teenager can't sneak out without their parents figuring it out, especially if their bedroom is on the 1st floor? Teenagers must not be very clever these days - probably comes from too much social media. Lastly, if she was "murdered by her two best friends", I suggest that the bigger problem was her choice of friends.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday December 27, 2013 @12:04AM (#45793273)
    I'm addicted to porn. It's other people's fault: they rarely have orgies with me, so I have to settle for virtual!

    Bonus: the methodology here is asking teens why they're doing something "wrong." The answer is "Because my parents won't let me do what I want." Shock.

Every young man should have a hobby: learning how to handle money is the best one. -- Jack Hurley