Protecting our teenagers from the negative aspects of social networking.

Posted on: April 17, 2012

I started writing this blog feeling confused about the use of social networking and found Twitter confusing and Facebook quite intimidating. After spending a few months exploring and having a go at using both sites I finally get it!!

As you know I work from home and I am developing my own business, I live in the middle of nowhere and don’t rub shoulders with people who work in the field I am starting to work in so essentially every idea I have has to be processed by me. If it was ten years ago I would be pretty isolated and stuck because I would be the only one and would find it very difficult to meet like-minded people – thankfully the power of technology has allowed me to get in contact with people who have studied, researched and put into actions aspects of my ideas and can provide valuable guidance and the reassurance that I am not a day dreamer.

I was never going to be a cool Facebooker or a witty Twitter so both sites don’t really apply to my personal life but they do enable me to share my passion for my work with like-minded people and benefit from the interaction.

Unfortunately it seems that both services are mistreated and used as verbal weapons against vulnerable teenagers and people. The anonymity works in a positive and negative way – if positively used it is amazing and you can meet fantastic people; however if used negatively people can be victimised and driven to making fatal decisions.

Being of the old school I would probably never access the pages again if people were nasty to me but younger people are conditioned to want to be liked and popular and gaining followers does feel good and losing them does make you wonder why. I have managed to clock up nearly 200 followers on Twitter but only actually communicate with three or four of my followers, the rest are complete strangers that mention subjects relevant to my work.

Teenagers however are essentially like toddlers again in terms of their development as everything is heightened and emotions are so strong; remember waiting for the phone call from a boy you liked? We had the benefit of the doubt as to whether they phoned or not because there was no 1471, answer machines and we didn’t have access to mobiles, computers, smart phones etc which makes any rejection much more public and deliberate.

I don’t envy the pressure teenagers are under to look like celebrities and have lots of friends, in my day there wasn’t that pressure as you had the ‘in’ crowd and the quieter ones and girls didn’t have to wear glamorous clothes if they didn’t want to. You still got bullied and called names but that stopped as soon as you got home to your own territory and they would never dream of phoning you up at home to taunt you because your parents would answer the one phone in the house that you often had to beg to use. Now it continues in to the night and the bullies never tire as opposed to the effort of doing it face to face – you also can’t punch an online bully and the cowards gain strength from this.

It is time that we moved with the times, I have to admit that I don’t know if social networking is covered in PSHE in schools, if it isn’t really needs to be addressed as well as helping children to develop high self-esteem and confidence to deal with social situations in general.

We have a paradox occurring during these times of political correctness as you can get arrested for being negative about someones race, colour, sexuality etc but you can be viciously nasty to other people – this is often demonstrated on reality television programmes – which is not a good example to developing minds – I can’t watch Big Brother because of the accepted nastiness – I don’t understand why people have to be that cruel.

Teenagers may look like adults but they are still children who need to be protected and cherished like toddlers – I sometimes think that you have to provide the most stability and guidance when they are reaching adulthood to help them prepare for the big world and dealing with people.

The world is amazing but it is also cruel, as it has always been except our children don’t need to be trained to deflect the pain of sticks and stones from passing barbarians, they need to be able to stand their ground and deal with the pain of words and negative actions with wisdom and strength.


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April 2012

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