Psychology professor questions Facebook's impact on mental healthBy Ryan Noik 10 August 2011 | Categories: news
August has not been a good month for Facebook so far. Apart from the rise of Googe+, this weekend saw a presentation that questioned the impact Facebook in particular was having on young people.
According to Larry D. Rosen, Professor of Psychology at California State University, teens who used Facebook more often showed narcissistic tendencies, while young adults who had a strong Facebook presence showed a greater number of signs of other psychological disorders, including antisocial behaviors, mania and aggressive tendencies. “While nobody can deny that Facebook has altered the landscape of social interaction, particularly among young people, we are just now starting to see solid psychological research demonstrating both the positives and the negatives,” he explained.
The bad and the ugly
In a presentation entitled Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids, he elaborated that daily overuse of media and technology had a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers by making them more prone to anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, as well as by making them more susceptible to future health problems.
According to Rosen, Facebook could be distracting and could negatively impact learning. He cited studies which found that middle school, high school and college students who checked Facebook at least once during a fifteen minute study period achieved lower grades.
But the news is not all bad. Rosen said that new research had also found positive influences linked to social networking. The research suggested that young adults who spent more time on Facebook were better at showing “virtual empathy” to their online friends, while online social networking could help introverted adolescents learn how to socialise behind the safety of a screen, whether on a smartphone or a notebook.
If that wasn't enough, the popular social networking site recently implemented a change that has some users up in arms. The social networking giant has rolled out a feature that groups together news feed stories by topic, based on what words people mention in their posts. The company explained that it wanted to show users the most relevant and interesting information.“This test is designed to show you trends among what your friends are saying,” the company elaborated. In the example given on the company’s Facebook page, all mentions of Harry Potter would be grouped together.
However, Facebook users are calling the change annoying and confusing, with one user on the company’s Facebook page pointing out that language is too contextual and ambiguous to be grouped together in this way.
To the point
Rosen encouraged parents to assess their child’s activities on social networking sites, and discuss removing inappropriate content or connections to people who appeared problematic. He further urged parents to pay attention to the online trends and the latest technologies, websites and applications their children were using. For Facebook, the backlash can easily be remedied by listening – and responding - to their users.
In recent news, Facebook faced its first significant slump after it was reported that it had experienced a user decline.
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