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Old 09-19-2010, 12:18 AM   #1
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Icon15 Is Facebook Worse For Teens Than TV?

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Is Facebook Worse For Teens Than TV?
Many Of Today's Parents Spent Time In Front Of TV Screens
Beth J. Harpaz, Associated Press

Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Uddated: 9:15 pm CDT October 27, 2010

New York -- Let's face it: Teenagers spend hours texting, socializing on Facebook and playing video games. And it's driving their parents nuts. Sure, there are real dangers associated with all this screen time - everything from cyberbullying to couch-potato obesity. Not to mention driving while texting, shortened attention spans and Internet porn. But many of today's parents spent hours as kids sitting in front of screens too - only they were TV screens. Which raises an interesting question: Is Facebook really worse for teenagers' brains than the mindless reruns of "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" that their parents consumed growing up?

Douglas Gentile, a child psychologist and associate professor at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, who studies the effects of media on children, says texting, Facebook and video games are not inherently bad. Nor are they inherently better or worse than watching TV, although they do pose different risks, such as cyberbullying. But research has shown that the more time kids spend in front of screens - whether it's TV or instant-messaging - the worse their school performance. "That doesn't mean it's true for every kid, but it makes sense, that for every hour a kid is playing video games, it's an hour that they're not doing homework or reading or exploring or creating," he said.

Gentile calls this the "displacement hypothesis. If screen time is displacing doing their homework, that's bad. But if their homework is done, well, so what?" Gentile, who admits that his own teenager crossed the "9,000 texts in one month barrier" last summer, acknowledged that parents are struggling to adjust to a world in which kids would rather look at words on a cell phone screen than have a conversation. "The older generation, it's not their culture," he said. "There is a resistance to it." Watching TV as a family, as mindless as that experience can be, is now regarded with nostalgia by parents. If your kid is sitting in the living room watching "American Idol," you can plop on the sofa with them, and "it's a shared experience," Gentile said. But if they're texting or video-chatting with a friend from school, "it's a private experience. It's like they're whispering secrets. And we find it rude."

Patti Rowlson, a mother of two in Everson, Wash., says this "has been a topic of discussion in our house for years now." She and her husband started out limiting TV time when their kids were little, but "then technology crept in. Cell phones, laptop computers, iPods with Wi-Fi. We, as parents, were no longer in control of screen time because we could not even tell when they were using it." Recounting a struggle that will sound familiar to many parents, Rowlson said that at first, she and her husband imposed limits on tech use. "There were battles and even groundings," along with the confiscation of iPods, she said. "We were constantly policing and the kids were constantly getting in trouble. We were trying to fight for the old ways, and it was causing a lot of stress and tension in the family. It was ridiculous. So we loosened up. And it's made everybody happier. We were fighting something that you can't hold back. It's how they communicate with their peers."

What's been the result? Two good kids, she said. "In the end I'm not sure if having boundaries early on helped them or made no difference at all." Ron Neal, who lives in West L.A., has a teenage daughter who is "tech-driven and passionate about it. ... I don't know how it's going to play out, but I don't have this fear and dread about it." Neal, who admits to watching a lot of "Gilligan's Island" growing up, added: "We had our minds numbed by TV, and maybe they're looking at useless things on the Internet or YouTube, but I also think they're developing a lot of skills through this technology that we could never comprehend. For my daughter, when she is home, she does have everything going - the TV, the computer, communicating with friends, and doing the homework at the same time."

He admits, though, that there are some frightening aspects to the dependence today's teenagers have on technology. "They are so emotionally connected to being tied in with their friends 24 hours a day, if they get a text, they feel obligated to respond in seconds," he said. He recalled a group of girls showing up for a birthday party at a restaurant, and "everyone of them had their head down, texting." The explosion in teen screen time is well-documented. A recent Associated Press-mtvU poll found that one-third of college students use computers, cell phones or gaming consoles for six or more hours daily. A Kaiser Family Foundation study published in January found that total media use among 8- to 18-year-olds, including TV, music, computers, video games, print and movies has increased from six hours, 21 minutes daily in 2004 to seven hours, 38 minutes in 2009.

"Try waking a teenager in the morning and the odds are good that you'll find a cell phone tucked under their pillow," the Kaiser report said. The Kaiser study also found that the more time kids spend with media, the lower their grades and levels of personal contentment are. Gentile said the impact of screen time on school work can be mitigated by what he calls "protective factors." Those might include good teachers and a high-performing school, love of reading, coming from a family where education is valued, and exposure to experiences that are culturally and intellectually enriching. "If you had all these protective factors," said Gentile, "then that one little risk factor (screen time), who cares?" He added that surprisingly, the amount of time kids spend watching TV has not declined precipitously with the popularity of computers and gaming, but "they don't pay nearly the attention (to TV) that they used to." The TV might be on, but "they're also instant-messaging, they're on Facebook, they're texting."

One thing parents should worry about, Gentile said, is the way electronic devices encourage multitasking.
"Multitasking is not really good for anyone," he said. "Your reflexes speed up, you're quicker to look over your shoulder and notice little noises or lights. This is not what they need when they get to the classroom and you're supposed to ignore the kid next to you. Scanning to see when the next message comes, this may not be good for kids. The more distractions you have, the worse your performance is." Getting kids to turn off their phones, iPods, and computers in order to concentrate on homework and reading, he said, "I think that's a fight worth having." Bottom line: Never mind that your kid is spending two hours on Facebook each night. As long as they do their homework without texting in between math problems, it's probably no better or worse than the hours you spent watching "Star Trek."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Last edited by Family Ties Forever! : 10-27-2010 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 10-27-2010, 11:46 PM   #2
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In my opinion, I think all the social network sites such as FB, Myspace, Twitter, LiveJournal, as well as texting is worse than just watching tv. Sure watching tv isn't good, but all the extra technology kids have today causes them to be in front of 'screens' longer. Kids spend far less time outside than kids did years ago.
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:18 AM   #3
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I think the person who wrote that article is looking for something to blame instead of blaming the parents for letting their children spend so much time texting, online, whatnot........
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:58 AM   #4
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I agree its up to the parents to monitor their kids and not let them spend so much time in front of the television set and computers.


Also I say texting is the worse. Talk about something that is so out of hand. What are people afriad they are going to miss if they dont text???
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Old 10-28-2010, 01:12 PM   #5
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I would say it depends on how it is used, like any other technology. If teens are using Facebook to hurt others, then definitely. I agree that its up to the parents to monitor how their teens are using it, like TV or anything else.
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:27 AM   #6
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I am 17 lol, and even I think that maybe all this stuff is a little out of hand. I don't do as much of the texting as most ppl, I tend to put my phone in my pocket and forget i had it. Same goes for the computer, i cant really find anything much interesting enough to stay on for that long unless someone is IMing me. The thing i have trouble with is the ipod, i tend to need it to do my homework or chores around the house. Needing it for chores isnt so bad, but im not sure about need for when i do homework. I get good grades, As and Bs, but i could prolly get all As if i took the ipod away and concentrated more on the work than what song i was listening to.
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steevo
I would say it depends on how it is used, like any other technology. If teens are using Facebook to hurt others, then definitely. I agree that its up to the parents to monitor how their teens are using it, like TV or anything else.

Exactly!!!
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:17 AM   #8
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im 39 and believe it or not i still have never sent a text message in my life
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:08 PM   #9
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im 39 and believe it or not i still have never sent a text message in my life



Same here and I dont plan to either. I am a sucker for old fashioned communication. Talking to somebody person to person, face to face.
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Old 11-01-2010, 02:02 PM   #10
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The over-use of computers,text messaging etc. in general is much worse for teenagers than television.Quality tv shows(the older shows ie: classic tv shows)are actually good for teenagers .The same however cannot be said for modern tv shows.
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Old 11-01-2010, 04:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LUNCH
The over-use of computers,text messaging etc. in general is much worse for teenagers than television.Quality tv shows(the older shows ie: classic tv shows)are actually good for teenagers .The same however cannot be said for modern tv shows.

True. Oliver from Green Acres, gave up his comfortable life to work at a life goal of his. Jack Tripper from Three's Company was able to live with two girls, and be friends without having constant sex. Mary Richards from TMTMS was able to earn a living for herself and be desirous to other men without coming into work everyday half dressed looking like a complete slut.

Now, every character would find the easiest way to being rich. Any one living with anyone of the opposite sex would immediatly sleep together, and a woman living alone would do anything for a date.
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LUNCH
The over-use of computers,text messaging etc. in general is much worse for teenagers than television.Quality tv shows(the older shows ie: classic tv shows)are actually good for teenagers .The same however cannot be said for modern tv shows.



You'll get no argument from me on that one.
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LUNCH
The over-use of computers,text messaging etc. in general is much worse for teenagers than television.Quality tv shows(the older shows ie: classic tv shows)are actually good for teenagers .The same however cannot be said for modern tv shows.

I don't know. I think too much of anything, including televison, is not a good thing.
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Old 11-01-2010, 09:38 PM   #14
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I agree that the concept of TV isn't inherently bad, it's the execution.

It is probably the same for the internet; you can spend hours learning, or you can spend hours sharing trivial self-promoting personal junk with other people who are nominally your "friends" but who really exist just to pump up your Facebook rep. It's up to you.

I have to agree on texting, though. There really isn't a responsible way to use it, and there's no need to use it, ever. When you text you miss the inflection of the other person's voice, just as talking misses out on the person's body language. All of these cues are very important in really understanding what the other person is trying to communicate, but now we just don't value that anymore. We live in a society that supposes that "quicker" is synonymous with "better" and that is a VERY foolish notion.
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