With Facebook, instant messaging and texting, some teens are spending more time talking with their friends online than in person. Now the lack of face-to-face interaction has some researchers worried technology is taking the "social" out of social networking.
It's easy to get linked-in to all the different forms of electronic communication. Vernon Freshman Ariana Nieves says she text-messages 1,000 times in a week.
cell phones and cyberspace. They lose the ability to interact face to face which affects their picking up on social cues.
Dr. Saunders sees the effect of text-messaging and online social networking first hand. She says skipping out on real life interaction can have real long-lasting effects if left unchecked. When you have to go for a job interview, when you have to meet someone for the first time, you lose some of the subtlety of the social interaction.
Lacking social skills can lead to isolation, maybe even depression according to a new study released by Stony Brook University. Psychologist Dr. Joanne Davilla says in the new report "texting, instant messaging, and social networking can make it very easy for adolescents to be even more anxious which can lead to depression."
Dr. Laura Saunders thinks the study may have the results in reverse. Kids who feel more depressed tend to feel more isolated and because they're more isolated, they're looking for ways to connect.
Not all the connections teens find online are real. Vernon Freshman Karolina Cekala says she has 200 friends on Facebook but way more on Myspace. But Karolina says she can only talk to one or two of those friends with a personal problem, a lot less than the hundreds of friends that appear on her computer screen.
When using technology to communicate, it is not just real friendships that are suffering, teens like Ariana Nieves say the messages themselves are often lost in translation. You can't really show emotion so people take it the wrong way
Text messaging is definitely something that starts a lot of rumors and starts a lot of drama.
These days rumors and gossip spread instantaneously or at least at the speed of your latest DSL connection. Ariana says there was a fight at school the other day. It was bad enough that everyone was talking about it. Then someone posted the details on Facebook. He got his face whopped. It was bad, not too cute to have that publically displayed.
In moderation, Dr. Saunders says social networking can be beneficial. There are those kids that have extreme social difficulties where having an avenue or social outlet for them through networking for them is a benefit.
In other words, parents walk a fine line making sure their teens find a balance between cyberspace and face-to-face. Experts say after-school activities and sports programs are a good start. Ariana's parents limited her cell phone use during certain hours of the day.
Above all always make sure kids understand, there's a time and a place for Facebook. Karolina seems to understand that just fine. If you really want to be someone's best friend you're not going to talk to them through Facebook.
Social Networking May Be Isolating Kids
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.