Long live the painful teenage years

Remember being an awkward tweenager? When talking to someone of the opposite sex was possibly one of the most gut-wrenching painful experiences ever (unless you were the cocky over confident kid everyone secretly hated)?  Or how talking to new people could be a bit scary.  You do remember.  Ah good.  And you grew up?  So, you got through those painful experiences and you learnt from them. You became more confident with each galling or confidence boostingly good face to face experience. And it was no longer a trauma.  It was just life.

But what what about kids of today?  How much face-to-face embarrassment do they have to go through?  I just read that over two-thirds (67%) of teenagers spend the majority of their browsing time on social networks.  The majority.  Added to that 15% of tweenies say instant messaging services are their main use of the web. Along with this, according to Adage, the 50% who own them  spend another chunk of their time with their heads burried in the latest apps on their mobilephones.  So what will become of their social skills? with So how will they get learn from painful social experience, if they don’t have to have them?  If they can just avoid them by having them online?

Instant gratification is a key driver in modern society, causing mass production, disposable everything and general impatience.  So, what will be the effects of instant communication gratification? Yes, I just made that up and it’s not brilliant.  But you get the idea – that without having to go through painful interactions, kids might never learn how to communicate properly?  Dun-dun-dun!  Or will they?

I suppose like everything the effects will be subtle.  Computer games were heralded as the last potential cause of major social breakdown.  And because of computer games (and fear of crime and other media propaganda) kids do indeed play outside less, and do play on computer games more.  But now they play online with their friends remotely.  Perhaps, a new modality of friendship and a new modality of communication.

I’m waffling, but I don’t care, it’s my blog.  But I’d love to hear how people think social networks have affected their kids behaviour and social skills.  Do you think it is a bad thing?  Or are they helping them connect with new people and forming wider social groups?  Do they seem to be shallow relationships?  Do you think this will help or hinder them in later life?


2 responses to “Long live the painful teenage years

  1. Well… I used to spend 100% of my time online and never got out and look how I turned out!

    But joking aside. I think nothing is the same as actually spending time in the real world… because so much misunderstandings occur in forums, im and so fourth. Skype is great to cut down that barrier but the other forms of communication work so well.

    It wasn’t until I started working in a restaurant that I found I was cool with talking to people and it really builds your confidence up cos you just have to do it time and time again. If someone doesn’t like you, cool… you move on to the next person.

    Social networks will if anything cause the extremes in people to show up. People will either be more 4chan, childish and rude with a different opinion of right and wrong. Or naive to it all and very sheltered.

  2. You need to read “Everything bad is good for you” Steven Johnson “takes on one of the most widely held preconceptions of the postmodern world–the belief that video games, television shows, and other forms of popular entertainment are detrimental to Americans’ cognitive and moral development. Everything Good builds a case to the contrary”


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