The Incredible, But Not Quite Edible, Facebook!

Sara Samuel is a junior in high school and lives in New Jersey.  She enjoys reading, writing, and playing soccer.  Her favorite things include oversized sweathshirts, buttered popcorn, and Squidward Tentacles.

Facebook, Email, Twitter.  The use of cyber communication and electronic relationships seems to be more common than actual face-to-face interaction in these days of constant technological improvements.  But what exactly about these mediums of communication are so appealing to the teenage population?

First, using Facebook and other cyber mediums as a means of communication is certainly more convenient than having to write a letter or—in the worst possible scenario—actually meeting face-to-face.  Important updates on gossip or homework assignments are only a few clicks away.  Sign on, send a message, receive an answer, and sign off.  Communication really has been simplified, and the adolescent population of today is certainly capable and willing to use technology to their advantage.

Secondly, there is an inherent security in being able to talk to someone without having to actually look at him or her.  With Facebook, emails and text messages, conversations can be had without the awkward silences that would be inevitable in a face-to-face interaction.  No one is going to blurt out an embarrassing response to a question asked without forethought; having to type a message—as opposed to having to verbally answer on the spot—means having the ability to think about what one is going to say.  Most importantly, however, is the relative anonymity that comes with cyber communication; who really knows what is happening on the other side of the cyber world.  That is not to say that texting, emailing, or Facebook-ing isn’t safe.  However, a certain freedom is evident in using such mediums, and teens and adolescents are more than willing to use it to their advantage.

Third, “Facebook stalking” has become increasingly common in the teenage vocabulary.  With only a few clicks, a wealth of information about a crush, new lab partner, or the new kid in school is available.  Pictures, applications, status updates, and maybe even a cell phone number—all information that can be available through text messages, Facebook, and emails.  On the surface, “Facebook stalking” might present itself as an issue: the idea of having tons of personal information available for millions of Internet users is a shocking idea for some.  Yet, teens these days are able to properly distinguish security controls and wall settings on Facebook.  Adolescents are able and capable to decide what is safe and not harmful.

And parents, cyber etiquette is certainly a conversation you should have with your kids! Although you might not be able to use T9 word, receive an email, or tag a friend in your Facebook status, parents still need to talk to their kids about what should and should not be said over the internet or with technology.  Feelings still get hurt and bullies still exist over the cyber waves.

Overall, there’s a ton of reasons why teens love Facebook and their cell phones so much.  Next time, instead of harassing your child about being permanently attached to their laptop, ask what they are doing.  Familiarize yourself with Facebook, and maybe create a profile!  With the world of technology, anything is possible; and, parents should know all the possibilities!

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