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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 tompaulco (629533) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:05PM (#45792319) Homepage Journal
    As Pop Psychology clearly tells us, nothing is ever the fault of the person who did it. It is always the parents fault, or societies fault, or their upbringing, or the people they hung out with.
    Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go rob a bank. You should be ashamed of yourselves for driving me to this. I hope you all rot in jail.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:10PM (#45792357)

    I've pushed and encouraged my son, now 19, to get out and socialize. I've encouraged him to go hang out with friends and to invite friends over. I've encouraged him to have and to attend parties, join groups, travel... I've provided a relatively fancy/sporty car and more than enough money to do almost whatever he likes.

    Instead he plays League of Legends and DOTA2 for 18-20 hours per day. He'd rather be kicked in the head than leave you computer and go outside or socialize...

    Well maybe it's my son that's got a problem. I do see lots of teens out in public. But, all of those teens, ALL OF THEM, have their heads buried in their smartphones. They go out of their way to NOT interact, let alone socialize, with anyone.

    I think this "researcher" is full of shit. I think that we are still to blame for providing an easy and pervasive technological environment that allows them to bury their heads in their comfortable world of cyberspace and "social media", never having to come up for air. It's addictive as shit and they are all addicted to it. But, they're not at all interested in socializing IRL.

  • Crime plummeted? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:34PM (#45792469)
    Crime among teens didn't change relative to society as a whole, as far as the stats I found in a quick glance. What changed was the *perception* of crime.
  • by nbauman (624611) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @09:38PM (#45792487) Homepage Journal

    This one has everything -- video monitoring the streets too. (Contrary to vendor claims, the video hasn't prevented crime.) This sounds like one of those 1950s movies where, the next thing you know, the teenagers will be playing rock and roll and dancing. Don't worry, they don't do this to white kids.

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131115/crown-heights/police-want-cut-wi-fi-at-crown-heights-mcdonalds-prevent-crime [dnainfo.com]

    Police Want to Cut Wi-Fi at Crown Heights McDonald's to Prevent Crime
    By Sonja Sharp on November 15, 2013 8:38am
    DNAinfo

    CROWN HEIGHTS — Phone thefts and teen brawls have gotten so bad at a Crown Heights McDonald's that police asked the management to turn off the Wi-Fi as a way of scattering the after-school crowds, DNAinfo New York has learned.

    “We asked them to kill the Wi-Fi there from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. so it doesn’t become a hangout," Capt. Eddie Lott, commanding officer of the 77th Precinct, said of the McDonald's at Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway. "That McDonald's is a big hangout for young people."

    Lott said he had reached an agreement with the managers of the McDonald's to cut the Wi-Fi in the afternoons, but it was still going strong this week — and McDonald's corporate office said the company had not agreed to anything yet.

    "As good corporate citizens, we are working with the police to ensure the safety of our customers," the company said in a statement, adding that that McDonald's has hired additional security.

    "The police have presented many solutions, one of which includes turning off the Wi-Fi."

    The 77th Precinct has seen a 19 percent jump in robberies so far this year compared to the previous year, coupled with a 10 percent increase in felony assaults, NYPD statistics show. Grand larcenies, which police said include many phone thefts, have spiked by nearly 30 percent.

    The precinct did not release separate crime statistics for Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway.

    While the intersection is far from the only problem spot in the neighborhood, police in both the 77th and the 71st precincts have repeatedly called it one of the most troubling. Earlier this fall, Lott put an NYPD SkyWatch tower at the intersection, videotaping 360 degrees 24 hours a day as both a deterrent and a way of catching suspects after crimes occur.

    "That’s why we have the SkyWatch there — we want to prevent those things from happening," Lott told residents in September when asked about the large group fights that routinely break out on the corner, particularly on Fridays.

    "Hopefully we can abate that and it won’t become the problem that it was the end of last school year."

    Teens, too, say the fights and thefts there have become routine.

    "It's very violent — people get chased, jumped, beat up," said Melissa, 16, a student at nearby Clara Barton High School.

    "It'll be three girls, five boys, and then their friends jump in. A lot of people get their phones stolen here. People from other schools, if they see someone with a phone, they'll take it."

    But while it may curb crime, regular customers like Devonte, 16, said they would be unhappy about losing wireless access in the McDonald's.

    "The library's closed a lot, so I can't go there," Devonte said. "The Wi-Fi brings me here mostly.... It'd be kind of upsetting if they turned it off."

    FamousandRich
    a month ago
    Why don't the geniuses at NYPD just put a pair of cops on post at the location or is that just too easy for these idiots to figure out?

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @10:04PM (#45792613)

    There are many of us of a certain age (50ish) who remember during summer vacations being told not to be at home until after dark. Seriously.

    There are many of us of a certain age (50ish) who remember during summer vacations being told not to be at home until after summer vacation. Seriously.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @10:07PM (#45792633)

    Even younger than that. My wife is fortyish and remembers it. It was common for parents to basically kick kids out of the house so they could have some time to themselves. Neither I nor anybody else I know resented it. It was basically "go out and play with your friends". Who knew we were all abused and neglected children?

  • Re:Media Distortion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @10:23PM (#45792709)

    And people eat it up. My 10 y.o. daughter isn't allowed to walk home from school, which is two blocks away. She hates it because the bus takes 40 minutes instead of 5. We live in a low crime area, and we've asked if we have to sign a permission form or something to allow her to walk home. Nope, can't do it. District policy. Child must either take the bus or be picked up by a parent.

    It's nuts. I, and everyone else who lived too close for a bus, was expected to walk to and from school by ourselves when we were in kindergarten. There were crossing guards for major streets. People say "the world isn't like when we were kids". They're right - it's safer! (that does depend somewhat on your age, but things have been getting safer for years).

    I tell my daughter to walk to school. She complains it's cold. I ask "did we forget to buy you a warm coat? Hat, gloves?". Nope, all is in order. "So get out and walk!". I feel a little weird because my neighbors drive their kids to the same school (seriously) or walk with them. I wonder when Child Protective Services is going to pay me a visit.

  • Re:yes and no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @11:48PM (#45793155) Homepage

    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.

    I see this as a fairly recent sea change and I'm puzzled by it. We've had to shut down personal cell phone use on the hospital floor by nurses and CNAs because too many of them were spending literally hours talking to family. It became intrusive as they would stop what they were doing to talk to their kid - who they talked to an hour ago. And it's not just one or two people, it's a significant number of staff members.

    When you ask them about it, most of them get defensive and say that they really need to keep close track of family and friends 'in case something happens'. Well, major events don't happen very often and the issues that they seem to be arguing over are at the 'who gets to take out the garbage today' level. I guess it's because you CAN keep in molecular contact with people these days. Growing up with just phones (the ones that were physically attached to wall with a wire), we would go hours, perhaps even whole days without knowing were family members and friends were.

    I do think it's really an addiction - people get a neurochemical warm and fuzzy and since it's easy to obtain, do it often. Perhaps we should work on cell phones that shock people after a certain number of minutes or texts...

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday December 27, 2013 @01:41AM (#45793763) Homepage

    There are fewer places to hang out. Record stores and video rental stores are gone. Indoor malls are on the way out. Fast food places discourage hanging out. Starbucks are popular places to hang out, but just can't handle many people. Few nightclubs allow teens. Where to go?

    I'm in Silicon Valley, and I get to see a few views of this. Downtown Redwood City (a mostly lower middle class town), sort of by accident, ended up being a teen hangout zone. Years of attempts to "revitalize downtown" actually worked. A 20-screen theater, a lot of cheap restaurants (pizza, yogurt, burgers, etc.) and a refurbished live theater, often used by cover bands, finally brought people downtown. There's also a big plaza in front of the former courthouse, where free movies or bands are shown on warm nights. It took years to get going, there were empty storefronts for years, and it seemed to be a boondoggle project, but now it's happening. But it was never intended to enrich the lives of teenagers. It was intended to enrich retailers and property owners.

    There's another side to this. Being a teenager in a high-achieving area like Silicon Valley means being run ragged with school, homework, and semi-mandatory activities needed to build up the resume to get into a good college. As a horse owner, I see a lot of kids like that, and many are just overworked. I once asked a group of girls at the Stanford barn who were discussing grades what they considered an acceptable GPA. One answered, in a bleak voice, "4.5." These are kids who will be considered a failure if they don't get into a school at the Stanford/Harvard/Yale level. Those kids are on a treadmill from their first day of preschool.

    As an amusing note, one thing horse kids have going for them is good situational awareness. They're used to being aware of what's going on around them, because that's required on or around horses. (Riding in a busy ring with different people and horses doing different things without getting in each others way is a basic skill.) They all have smartphones, but aren't glued to them.

  • by Evtim (1022085) on Friday December 27, 2013 @07:09AM (#45794835)

    So true!

    People say about me, that I have above average people skills. Well, that is what you get from spending 3-5 hours per day [during school year, during vacation it was 5-10 hours] from the age of 5 being together with 5-10 neighbor kids [and not using a single electronic device in our time together - no radio, no TV, no Internet, of course]. That was in the countryside. In the big city - the same story only the locations and types of fun were different.

    Being home after dark? Not after the age of 13. Around that time something happened to me that happens to most boys - I woke up wet. So I asked my parents what this means. "You are entering adulthood and you will change" they said. "But according to the law I am still a kid for 5 years" - I said. "Well, we will have to work it out somehow". Then I started staying with friends for the whole night, or coming home at 04:00 hours after heavy metal concert, going to the mountains for weeks at the time when there was no way to communicate with the rest of the world [can you even imagine that is possible today - to let your kid go to the mountains and not get news from it for 2 weeks!!] and so on....and all the time I was wondering when will my parents say "enough". They never did!

    A few years ago I said to my mom "I have the feeling I was left with almost no oversight from you and dad when I was going out as a teen. I had friends on drugs. Others were drinking too much. You knew this; did you never worry?" Mom laughed her heart out "We never stopped watching you very closely indeed. I was worried you might start drinking too much or taking drugs. I was worried that you might have nasty experience with women, or be attacked in the desolate night streets. But since you never "took the bad road" stayed reasonable, studied hard and so on, we never interfered. How could I deprive from your friends just because some of them have habits I consider bad. It would have been a disaster...you need contact with people of your age to become a person!"

    On the other side is the sad, sad story of a nephew of mine (born after communism), who got so protected by his [overly scared by media] mother that he never had a friend and was going out once per year with classmates. The boy turned psychotic because once he was in the University his total lack of social skills [although being 22 his emotional and social life is at a level of 10 year old] made him the ridicule of all. He went into fights, did not know how to approach women [guess how sensitive and empathic women are to boys they consider "losers"], grew progressively even more isolated....and at the end of that road was the psychiatrist....

    And don't get me started on sexual education, because today kids have the choice between shy and/or paranoid parents and the utterly fabricated "reality" of internet porn....so sad.

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