FriendshipHanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media Lauren Batherson
“They go there to hang out.”What is social media to teens? According tothe text being involved on social networkingsites is a critical part of being sociallyconnected. Losing access to social mediawould be detrimental to their social world.
“Conversations and interactions that begin inperson do not end when friends are separated.”“Online and offline are not separate worlds-they are simply different settings in which togather with friends and peers. Conversationsmay begin in one environment, but they moveseamlessly across media so long as the peopleremain the same. Social media mirror, magnifyand extend everyday social worlds.”
“Social Media mirror and magnifyteen friendship practices. Positiveinteractions are enhanced throughsocial media while negativeinteractions are also intensified.”
Strengthen Connections“Social media offer a platform for teens to takefriendships to a new level.”Social media makes it easier for friends to stay intouch and deepen their relationship.As a teen I used Instant Messenger to talk with myfriends after school, these are people I am still bestfriends with. I also currently use Facebook to stay intouch with a friend who has moved out of state. It isan easy way to see what they are doing and stayconnected.
Meeting New People“Social media theoretically allow teens tomove beyond geographic restrictions andconnect with new people.”Social media allows people to make newfriends that may share similar interests. Thechapter gives examples of gamers and LGBT’s.They might not be able to make these friends inschool as their interests are not supported, butthey can make these connections throughsocial media.In Ann’s story on page 93, social mediaallowed her to meet her college roommate.They had shared interests and planned outtheir dorm room.
Hurt FeelingsSocial sites can create tension and make people feelexcluded. Teens expressed their concerns that they might hurtsomeones feelings by declining their friend request onFacebook. Or not putting them in your top eight on MySpace.“Taking someone off your Top 8 is your new passive-aggressivepower play when someone pisses you off.”
Bob knows bestBob (from the text) on becoming Facebook friends:“Sets up your relationship for the next time you meetthe m to have them be a bigger part of yourlife…Suddenly they go from somebody you’ve metonce to somebody you met once but alsoconnected with in some weird Facebook way. Andnow that you’ve connected you have toacknowledge each other more in personsometimes.”I have experienced this first hand. Someone withmutual friends may friend request me and like abunch of my Facebook statuses. I then see them inperson and they act like they do not know me. Ormaybe they say hey and we’ve never met before.It can create different types of situations and
Unfriending people on these social sites istouchy subject.If it’s someone you are close to, it is seen to bespiteful and intentionally designed to hurt theother person.If it’s a complete stranger it is not so hurtful.Students interviewed cleaned up theirFacebook friends and narrowed their lists downto people they only actually knew. Severaltimes I’ve done the same.
Drama“Teens use social media to develop andmaintain friendships, but they also use them toseek attention and generate drama.”Teens blame technology for making gossipeasier.“There is a greater potential for gossip tospread much farther and at a faster pace,making social media a catalyst in teen drama.”
Teens can also gain access to the content evenif they were not present for the situation, it is veryeasy to “stalk” peers. At my age there is littledrama on social networking sites, but I haveyounger cousins who complain to me aboutsuch issues. People can be ruthless on these sitesand will blatantly bash others for the public tosee.
Social Media allows friends and peers to stayconnected with each other constantly. Teens valuethis as it helps them build, maintain and developfriendships. It can make them feel acceptedamongst certain groups. It is an outlet to expressyourself and meet people with similar interests. Idiscussed some of the negatives but withtechnologies rapid growth, belonging to at leastone (usually more) of these social sites seemsnecessary.
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