The progression of the 21st century has, without a doubt, exposed humanity to the growth and expansion of media masses. It seems as if no matter where you position yourself in today’s society, a technological glow surrounds a large portion of individual faces from gadgetry such as: televisions, mobiles and laptops. However, one of the main audiences who are stereotypically judged for the use of this technology are young teenagers. The youth of today are being continually scrutinized over their ‘excessive’ use of media via social-networking, leaving their parents apprehensive of the possible negative impacts that may arise.
Media has been exceedingly blamed for an ‘addictive’ nature and anti-social uprising in today’s youth, but can this notion be justified or is it purely a case of overprotective parenting? It is true that some adults have tendencies to be overly cautious of their kids, ‘bubble-wrapping’ them with the intention of protecting them from the ‘horrors’ of the world. Often, kids are not allowed out of the house for non-planned activities. They can’t ride their bikes around town by themselves or walk the streets of their neighbourhood for fear of the rare, media induced cases of ‘child abductors’, ‘serial murders’ and ‘superpredators’.
Danah Boyd, author of ‘It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens’ supports this idea through her research of this generation’s teenagers by interviewing them in regards to their online lives. Her notions illustrate that teenagers would rather speak to each other in person – the issue at hand however, is that their parents restrict them from doing so, leaving social-networking as one of their main outlets for socializing. One teenager even admitted that not having an account restricted his social life as he struggled to keep informed of any social activities and found it difficult to stay connected with people in general.
“Teens aren’t addicted to social media. They are addicted to each other” – Danah Boyd
The thorough research of Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Centre, discovered that the most avid texters are also the teens who are most likely to spend time with friends in person. “..69% of heavy texters (100+ texts a day) talk daily on their cell phones, compared with…43% of light texters (0-20 texts a day)…”. Through this knowledge, one form of socialising does not replace the other. It compliments it. Disproving the anti-social theory.
A further question we should ask: Is media developing at a pace that is much faster than parents are able to adapt to? It is clear that adolescents and parents have differing perceptions of how to be sociable. Teenagers simply see social media as just another opportunity to participate in public life and this concerns parents purely because they have had no experience with it.
“Any new technology that captures widespread attention is likely to
provoke… full-blown panic. When the sewing machine was introduced,there were people who feared the implications that women movingtheir legs up and down would affect female sexuality. The Walkmanmusic player was viewed as an evil device that would encouragepeople to disappear into separate worlds, unable to communicatewith one another” – Boyd (2014, p. 28)
– Amanda Lenhart 2012, Teens, Smartphones and Texting, pewinternet.org, 17/03/14, < http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/03/19/teens-smartphones-texting/ >