Is Social Media Good for Teenagers?

While teenagers are spending lots more time online than ever before, researchers at Tel Aviv University are going on the record as saying this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that time spent on social networks like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Google+ may actually be beneficial to their development.

The term “Internet addiction,” the researchers say, is often misapplied in cases where these teenagers are concerned. By current definition, Internet addiction is when someone spends more than 38 hours weekly on the Internet (raise your hand if that applies to you). But researcher Moshe Israelashvili argues that — like anything else in life — it’s the quality of the time spent on the Internet that matters more than the quantity. Before the computer was a household appliance and the Internet as ubiquitous as television and radio, teenagers had different outlets and expressed themselves in other ways.

Is Social Media Good for Teenagers?This isn’t to say that time spent in front of a computer shouldn’t be balanced out with physical activity — a body is still a temple! However, the Internet has a lot to offer the minds of teenagers in their formative years as they’re growing, developing, and finding out who they are. While there’s definitely the potential for abusing the Internet with too much gaming and/or too much pornography consumption, the advantages offered by the Internet’s more social aspects help those who are motivated to find out about the world around them and how to interact with people from all walks of life in ways that real life can’t always teach.

As the researchers say, the Internet (for better or for worse) has become a fixture in our modern lifestyle — for adults as well as children. Knowing how to balance the temptations of time-wasting activities versus positive social networking and information gathering is something with which everyone needs to come to terms. As “a car is not a toy,” as my grandfather was fond of saying, the Internet shouldn’t be treated as a toy, either. Driven and cared for properly, it can be an important lesson in responsibility, a morale builder, and a way to socialize. Parental guidance is suggested.

Do you think that people — especially teenagers — are spending too much time online these days, or do you think it’s just society adjusting to a tool that’s still fairly new and constantly developing? Does the Internet encroach upon or enhance your life?