In the past ten years, the breakthroughs of the Internet have lead to the creation of online social networks. Founded in 2004, Facebook has become the most popular social network in the past few years. It has created a new way for people to communicate and socialize. Either by “posting” on their friends’ “walls” or by videoconferencing, users can leave them a message. However, the nonstop use of Facebook is becoming a discussed issue among our society. Youth are using Facebook to procrastinate on their daily tasks. Checking their Facebook profile is now part of their daily lives.
This issue may cause them to get distracted constantly, consume golden time, lose privacy, change their daily habits, and, sometimes, even damage their computer’s operating system. This paper discusses the positive and the negative effects that the excessive use of Facebook may cause to our young generation. Keywords: social network, Facebook, negative effects, young people, logged in I’ll “Facebook” You Later: The Effects of Facebook in Young People’s Lives During 2008, I remember talking to my friend Patricia and she told me: “Hey Cynthia, nobody is using MySpace now.
They’re all moving to Facebook; it’s kind of the same thing, but I’m just letting you know that you need to get on the trend. ” Trusting her, I visited the Facebook website and created my own profile. My first “post” was a picture of my dad and me at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey. But Facebook’s interface seemed to be very boring and I never logged in again. The following year, unexpectedly, Facebook’s popularity increased. Facebook had arrived, and this time to stay. The new social network seemed to be more organized and easier to use than MySpace.
The idea of becoming a fan of something you like by making one single click was interesting for many people around the world. Nowadays, Facebook is the most popular social network by allowing people from everywhere around the world to stay connected. Today, if you don’t have a Facebook profile, you are off-trend. However, being the “owner” of a Facebook profile has its responsibilities, and therefore, its pros and cons. The renowned social network has become such an addiction among young people that they don’t even ask what your name is anymore, but whether you are on Facebook.
Youth spend tons of hours on Facebook, either logged in using their cell phones or from their laptops; they often feel the need to posting what their next activity will be, but is Facebook really worth the time? As mentioned in their own website, “Founded in February 2004, Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections.
Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment” (Facebook. com, 2011). Itodo Daniel Sule, a journalist from the Nigeria Daily Trust, added in his article “Youths and Social Network Obsession”, “As at July 2011 it is said that Facebook has more than 750 million active users. The number of Facebook fans must have grown astronomically since then. Users may create personal profiles, add other users as friends, and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile” (2011).
Facebook allows its users to share with their friends their thoughts, feelings, favorite songs, and/or pictures. The “Newsfeed” is the first thing that will appear in your screen when logged in; on it, you can see what your friends are up to and you can catch up with what your friends will be doing next weekend. It is also an innovative way to chat with friends and/or family, either by sending messages or by videoconferencing. As a result, “facebooking” is nowadays part of young people’s daily routine.
Whether they are just waking up, lunching, or bored in class, they will take out their phones and post whatever comes to their minds on their “walls”. Facebook has become the platform where they can express themselves. Some of them may post their mood for the day or what made their day interesting. Others may post every ten minutes what they are doing. If they missed something in class, they can always post on their friends’ wall asking for what the homework was. Further, they don’t have to plan a game day anymore with their friends; Facebook applications offer young people the opportunity to play any online ame with their friends and compete against them. They can also meet new people with different cultures and beliefs, and share with them what is happening. This social network has created another way to socialize. Young people may not only talk to their friends face-to-face, but also through their Facebook profile. Facebook helps young people stay connected with their friends and share everything they want. However, everything in life has a bad side. Facebook is not the exception. As said before, “facebooking” is a daily routine for young people, but they are often worrying about it too much.
Sometimes they feel like updating their Facebook profiles every ten minutes. It doesn’t really matter whether they are in math class or walking to the computer lab, they won’t hesitate to touch the Facebook icon on their phone screens and post what is happening. This situation may cause distraction for young people. Some of them may spend a lot time thinking about what their next picture is going to be or what song’s lyrics will be their next wall post, procrastinating on their real tasks. Besides, providing too much information of where they are or what they are doing may cause them to lose privacy.
According to Leigh Goessl, a blogger on Helium. com, there are four main negative effects of excessive use of Facebook. The first that Goessl stated is that checking a Facebook profile can be time consuming. “Users can log on to check messages and find themselves distracted with chat requests, groups activity, incoming messages on walls, streamed information on their feeds, shared links, games, various invites and a plethora of other activity. Suddenly tremendous amounts of time can pass before you know it” (2011).
Youngsters waste a lot of golden time on Facebook applications; it is countless the times that they click the Facebook Home button during a single day. Her second negative point was the lack of privacy that a person has as a Facebook member. It’s true that Facebook allows its users to decide who to show and who not to show their posts, but “you never know what might be forwarded, copy/pasted and/or retold on the website. While you can control your own page, you cannot control what others post” (Goessl, 2011). Goessl’s third point discussed the security risks that having a Facebook profile may cause.
The Facebook website is constantly being attacked by scams, which are “designed to lure users to click rogue links, run malicious programming code and install dangerous apps” (Goessl, 2011). These links are made to trick Facebook account holders and make them click on malicious websites that not only are sensitive to the public’s view but also may damage a computer’s operating system. Lastly, Goessl asserted negative effects of having a Facebook profile in the professional campus. Today, managers search Facebook profiles in order to hire somebody or to keep control over employee performance.
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN senior medical correspondent, argued as well that Facebook may cause young people to lose sleep hours due to the time they stay logged on: “If you’re staying up late at night because you’re on Facebook, and you’re tired the next day, Facebook may be a compulsion for you” (2009). “Owning” a Facebook account can be fun and a way to keep self-actualized, but the way we use it should be measured. As a youngster, I use my Facebook profile to talk to my friends in New York or in my home country. At least once in a day, I type www. acebook. com in my Internet browser. I’m not used to posting everything I do during the day, but sometimes, mostly on weekends, I may write something about my soccer team games or any song’s lyrics I like. I also do videoconferences with my friends to talk about what is happening in their lives as well as in mine. But, most of the time, I get bored of seeing the same thing. In my “Newsfeed,” there are always things that I don’t really want to know, and I have even seen people taking pictures of what they are going to eat.
Personally, I would say that youth are not using Facebook accurately. Its real purpose is to socialize, not to compete against others. Young people have made Facebook a constant competition of who got the best of the best. It is like everybody is trying to show their “perfect life,” which they don’t really have, to others. After 2008, Facebook seized the virtual world. By letting people communicate in a different and totally new way, Facebook caught everybody’s attention, especially the young generation.
Today, young people use it to share with others what is happening around them. Either by their smart phones or by their laptops, they can update their “status” and let others know what their thoughts are. They can either write a message on their friends’ wall or do videoconferences with them. They can also post their favorite songs or pictures from their trip to the Middle East. Facebook may also be the place where young people feel like writing what they are not able to say out loud, where they feel free to write and share with others whatever they want.
However, spending a lot of hours logged on in Facebook, may lead to constant distraction, procrastination, and the loss of privacy. The use of Facebook should be balanced in each person’s life. There should be time to do everything, but it depends on each person to decide how to spend his time, whether on Facebook or doing other given tasks.
Cohen, E. (2009, April 23). Five clues you are addicted to Facebook. Cable News Network. Retrieved from http://articles. cnn. com/2009-04-23/health/ep. facebook. ddict_1_facebook-page-facebook-world-social-networking? _s=PM:HEALTH Facebook. com (n. d. ). Corporate Info: Factsheet. Retrieved from http://www. facebook. com/facebook? sk=wall#! /press/info. php? factsheet Goessl, L. (2011, May 22). The negative effects of Facebook [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www. helium. com/items/2160993-the-negative-effects-of-facebook Sule, I. D. (2011, October 14). Youths and social networking obsession [analysis]. Nigeria Daily Trust. Retrieved from http://allafrica. com/stories/201110140376. html