Young people who use social networking websites habitually
are more likely to use them critically, according to research conducted in
Spain. Parents may have more to worry about when their children aimlessly
browse social networks.
More intensive users are more technologically savvy and tend
to use technology in a more independent and creative way, the study
by the Forum of Interactive Generations shows. The family-oriented
organisation’s research involved nearly 5 million minors in 18,000 educational
settings in Spain — where Facebook comes a poor second (20 per cent of users)
to a network called Tuenti (60 per cent) among the under-18s. On its
English-language site it reports:
Minors that do not use social networks are
logically more protected against risks that users may encounter. However,
habitual users of social networks are more skeptical and aware of the dangers,
thanks to their experience as web surfers. On the other hand, they are also
more independent: among all targets, they have proven to be greater technology
experts and more independent users.
This is especially the case, it seems, where teachers use digital
technology as an educational tool.
On the downside, the study confirms that intensive social
networking tends to impact negatively on young people’s academic performance and
especially on (leisure) reading, as well as on face-to-face relationships with
friends and family. It also generates conflict with parents over use of devices
and their content. At the same time, these parents are more aware of the need
for balance and of the risks of excessive use.
Take-home message: minors need to learn to use social networks
“consciously”, with help and guidance from parents and teachers, so the
experience becomes art of their personal and