Facebook may cause negativity in teenagers

Julia Halpin | Staff Writer

Low levels of confidence in teens can be attributed to their usage of Facebook, according to a 2008 University of Georgia study that surveyed 130 Facebook users. The number of Facebook friends and wall posts someone acquires directly relates to how narcissistic they may be.Junior Brittani Campbell said that having more friends and picture comments on Facebook can reinforce the feeling of self-importance in some of the sites’ users.

“The amount of friends you have, amount of picture comments you have — it can make people feel better about themselves or worse about themselves,” Campbell said.

Facebook members have begun to use the site to make “friends” with which they have never come in contact, according to Campbell, who said that all of the sites’ users must be cautious when accepting these Facebook friends.

“You just have to be safe,” Campbell said. “Say you want to meet some new friends on Facebook — you have to watch who you’re accepting or who you’re giving friend requests out to.”

Sophomore Hannah Greve said that the possibility of unsafe interactions on Facebook is an aspect of the site that pushes her away from creating an account.

“There’s always the [information provided] in tech classes that says it’s not safe,” Greve said. “You never know who you’re talking to. You [think you] know [who you’re talking to], but you never know for sure.”

Along with the safety fears, frequent changes in the popularity of various social networking sites is a reason for sophomore Pahul Hanjra to not create a Facebook account.

“I don’t want [a Facebook account], because I just see Facebook as another fad that will be over in two years,” Hanjra said. “A few years ago, MySpace was what everyone had, and no one even talks about it anymore; so, I don’t want to get caught up in that.”

According to Facebook.com, 2.5 billion pictures are posted to the site each month; this can often be a source of excessive comments from the opposite gender on pictures, according to Campbell.

“Girls in particular will look at pictures and profiles, and boys will be commenting all over [their Facebook pages],” Campbell said. “[Facebook] could make someone have a really low self esteem.”

According to Greve, the inappropriate way some girls portray themselves on Facebook often contributes to the growing jealousy among girls when they use the site.

“[Comparisons occur] because [girls] put pictures up of themselves, and sometimes [they’re not in] the best clothing, or the most appropriate,” Greve said.

Sophomore Emily Combs said that a personal lack of confidence is a main reason for why girls frequently compare themselves to other girls on the site.

“[The comparison] also kind of leads back to their confidence in themselves and if they’re insecure,” Combs said. “Especially girls have an issue with [their self- esteem], because they want to be like other people. In this school, there are so many people that you’re going to see everybody from one spectrum to the other.”

Even though words posted on the site can reinforce a Facebook member’s confidence, junior Hannah Sliger said that the amount of posts made each day is overdone, and leads to a lack of true feeling within the statuses and posts by Facebook’s 35 million viewers.

“If [friends] message you, it’s hard to tell how they’re really feeling, whereas if [a conversation] was in person, you would be able to see their real emotions,” Sliger said. “It’s harder to communicate with people [on Facebook], because you don’t really know how they really feel or how they really think.”

Though Facebook users don’t have conversations that equal up to true interactions according to Sliger, the average user spends more than 55 minutes on Facebook each day, according to Facebook.com. Campbell said that the site’s members have started to spend more time on Facebook and less time doing their important daily activities.

“When I’m getting on the computer to write a paper or something, I’ll get on Facebook to just update my status, and I’ll end up being on there for an hour,” said Campbell.

According to a study referenced in The New York Times and conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, an organization that develops non-profit research, kids eight to 18 years of age spend more than 7.5 hours a day using electronic devices such as the computer and television.

Sliger said she participated in a “media fast”, going thirty days without any form of media (including television and internet access), with Hope Church in order to eliminate distractions in her life that could sidetrack her from her faith. She said going without Facebook was a significant challenge and drove her to other ways of using her time.

“I just spent more time with my family,” Sliger said. “We were all doing [the fast] together, so if we were bored, we couldn’t just get on Facebook and talk to people: we had to talk to each other.”

Facebook users who talk to people through the site more frequently than they have face-to-face interactions, Combs said, are a contribution to some of the increased usage of the site and the narcissism found in its’ users .

“There’s going to be people that are on [Facebook] more than they are with their family or doing school work, and there’s going to be those people out there that do use it as a way to compare themselves [to others],” Combs said. “I think [the appropriateness of Facebook] depends on how you use it and how you look at it.”

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