The advent of social media coupled with the increased access to internet services globally has significantly contributed a greater use of social networking. Most importantly is the fact that internet use has grown immensely among the millennia who are fond of using social networking sites as the new way to creating friends and catching up with others. In one way or the other, while the increased utilization and reliance on social networking sites may be considered as having a positive effect, there are also the negative implications that the social networking sites create. Today, it is a rare occurrence to find youths who have not subscribed to social networking sites including and not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, Tumblr, Yik Yak among other just to mention a few (Boyd, 2014). The perception held by most teenagers is that social networking sites help them make new friends, interact more freely while at the same time getting to catch up with their former friends that they might have been long separated. However, there are several demerits which arise as a direct impact of relying on social media in making friends. Today, the use of the social media ranging from blogging to other forms of social networking forms a central part of teenagers’ lives. In this essay, I will discuss the reasons as to why some teenagers like using online social networking sites as well as the dangers associated with making new friends online.
Why Teenagers like to use Social Networking Sites
Man is by nature a social being bound to conversations and making connections. Most teens believe that using social networking sites as mediums for interaction especially in these times of high technological advancement is pivotal in ensuring that their communication networks are kept intact. Most importantly is the fact that teenagers are increasingly using the latest forms of technology as a means of enhancing their communication as well as expressing their feelings (Boyd, 2014). As such, the internet has evolved to be the greatest tool for communication leading to a change in the way people used to communicate in the past. Today, social media, as well as other networking sites, have enabled an instant interaction of people especially teenagers all over the world.
While the internet has made it possible to connect with loved ones, there is an increasing trend of individuals connecting and having conversations with strangers they have never met online at any time of the day or night so long as one has a device that is Internet-connected. In as much as traditional methods of communicating with loved ones and strangers like sending letters and making phone calls may be used today, utilization and over-reliance on the internet have gained prominence among the youths shaping the modes of communication in a steady pace (Boyd, 2014). Such a trend can be attributed to the explosive growth of social media websites earlier mentioned. While the internet remains a great tool for transmitting information, it equally can be used as a mode of building friendships especially in people who do not know each other and have never met. The everyday use of social networking sites has gained prominence and continues to be a significant role in each and every teenager’s life. As a result, the use of the internet has given birth to blogging; a phenomenon in which online social platforms as well as other digital materials have increasingly become popular among the growing teenage population.
The other main reason as to why most teenagers are fond of using the social networking sites is that most if not all of the sites offer instant messaging (IM) options as opposed to mobile phones. Instant messaging online has increasing gained prominence among teenagers with most arguing that it forms their primary way of communicating with their friends. Moreover, most teenagers are known to be risk takers who can easily engage in online dating activities especially through chatting online. Researchers conducted on the issue indicate that teenage boys are more likely than girls to form dating relationships online (Boyd, 2014). Most teenagers engaged in online dating argue that it is one of the easiest forms of relationships to manage in that everyone continues with their lives independently without having to meet with their partners most often. Moreover, they hold that emotions expression is easier online in that they find it easy to express their heartfelt feelings and emotions without faking anything.
Dangers of making New Friends Online
Is making friends online safe? The question that has lingered and remains mind-boggling to many researchers in the field of technology is how safe making new friends online can be. However, it remains an agreed phenomenon that there are dangers associated with the making of new relationships online (Bolton et al, 2013). Most importantly is the fact that while making friends online can be productive, it can as well be counterproductive and hurtful. Since they are not being seen, teenagers can choose to insult others especially with idealized perceptions of those they are in constant communication with. Moreover, the fact that physical contact with the person one is in constant communication with is not frequent, there is the likelihood of creating a barrier to effective communication.
Secondly, while communicating online, people can easily pretend to be what they are not. Sadly, there have been cases of child predators as well as rapists online who pose as nice out to seek real friendships. At the ends of such relationships, people have reported being date-rapped among other injuries. Such behaviors pose real threats to having friends online, people that you have not physically met (Bolton et al, 2013). Moreover, there is the danger of constantly keeping in touch with a person you for sure do not know until you meet in person. In a nutshell, there is a great risk in creating friendships online as compared to the positive impacts that online social networking creates.
Boyd, D. (2014). It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens. Yale University Press.
Bolton, R. N., Parasuraman, A., Hoefnagels, A., Migchels, N., Kabadayi, S., Gruber, T., … & Solnet, D. (2013). Understanding Generation Y and their use of social media: a review and research agenda. Journal of Service Management, 24(3), 245-267.