Cyberbully was a movie which premered on ABC Family a few years ago that really gave a clear glimpse into the online social networks and how teen’s lives, now-a-days seem to focus around these networks. Throughout this presentation, I will be using examples and clips from the movie to help illustrate how social networks are the new hangout place for teenagers.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT_4QZAYl5g
This clips starts at the beginning and goes until a little after a minute into the video (sorry, couldn’t find just the part I wanted) This beginning scene of the movie clearly shows the socialization of the internet. Thanks to Facebook, teenagers can interact with their friends while doing other things like getting ready for school.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxZuZVJPJU4
Facebook and social media networks are becoming the newest, and latest hangout spots for today’s teenagers. “In the 1980s, the mall served as a key site for teen sociability in the United States (Ortiz 1994) because it was often the only accessible public space where teens could go to hang out (Lewis 1990). Teens are increasingly monitored, though, and many have been pressured out of public spaces such as streets, parks, malls, and libraries (Buckingham 2000). More recently, networked publics have become the contemporary stomping ground for many U.S. teens. Just as teens ﬂ ocked to the malls because of societal restrictions, many of today’s teens are choosing to gather with friends online because of a variety of social and cultural limitations (boyd 2007).” (Mizuko, p.80)
Because of the ease of the internet, more and more teenagers are turning towards the internet to socialize. Teenagers are finding the internet a place where they can talk and socialize without interference from their parents or from others. They can, also, communicate with anyone at almost anytime. For example, you could “hangout” on the internet with your best friend until 2am on a school night.
Social network sites are used primarily by teenagers to interact with people they already know, whether they be acquaintances or good friends. “This is not to say that teens do not leverage social media to develop friendships. Teens frequently use social media as additional channels of communication to get to know classmates and turn acquaintances into friendships. “ (Mizuko, p. 89) Teenagers use social networks as meeting grounds where they can interact and become friends with people they may know, but might not necessarily have time to get to know at school or social gatherings. Also, communication through the internet has one thing that makes it easier, when communicating with people you don’t know that well, the screen.
This communication isn’t face-to-face or even speaking and listening, it is a textual based communication that doesn’t have any time restrictions or expectations. When people communicate face-to-face or through the phone, their communication and responses are instant. When people communicate online, they have more of a leeway of time between responses, thus they can think and plan out their response before sending it. They, also, have the option to reread and revise what they are going to say, before they say it.
This clip starts at 12:40 and goes until 13:37http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxZuZVJPJU4&feature=BFa&list=ULyhcfswUJRQg
“While most teens who connect with strangers have no expectation of building a relationship out of this performed connection, there are teens who happily add people to whom they are attracted in the hopes that one of these connections might develop into something more.” (Mizuko, p.97) Taylor added a complete stranger, in hopes that he could possibly become a love interest. Many teens add people they don’t know or seek out strangers as a way to not only meet and connect with new people for the possibility for new friends, but, also, for the possibility of making a deeper, romantic connection with someone.
Teenagers (and humans in general, in my opinion) tend to create social groups in which people are categorized and even stereotyped. We all can list the classic groups: Jocks & Cheerleaders Goths & Outcasts Geeks & Nerds Etc. Before the internet, schools were the places where teenagers would act out these social groups and stereotypes. But when they went home, they could escape any negative associations that came with their stereotype, and wouldn’t be afraid to be themselves.
While social groups and stereotypes haven’t really changed over the years, the places in which they are represented and “acted out” have changed. It used to be, you would have to go to school or to the mall to be faced with these cliques, but now all you have to do is turn on your computer. “Teens have ﬂocked to social media because they represent an arena to play out these means of status negotiations even when they are away from the school yard.” (Mizuko, p. 83)
While in some ways this can be good, because it gives teenagers more opportunities to interact with one another and socialize, it can also pose some problems. The biggest problem: Cyberbullying For teenagers who are bullied and teased at school, this social transition from public hangouts to private ones causes distress and problems for some teenagers. It used to be that home was where you could escape the charade of social groups and cliques, but now with social media becoming the new norm, a lot of teenagers find themselves “performing” at home, in their own private space. Or they find themselves being teased and harassed in the privacy of their own homes.
The clip starts at 11:30 and goes until 12:50. This clip shows how the harassment and negative effects of social cliques can effect someone at home.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhcfswUJRQg
Everything that goes on at school and your social life outside of your house, now continues when you come home. Taylor, the main character, couldn’t seem to escape the negative comments from her peers. It creates a tough situation for teenagers: deal with the negative comments of one’s peers on these sites, or get rid of their account: but by doing this they will be “erased” from the social scene and their “reality” all together.
You might ask, why do teens feel the need to participate and socialize on these websites? Especially if the ? experiences aren’t necessarily good ones. It’s because social media has become their world. It has become the social norm of how to interact and communicate. If they don’t participate, then it’s almost like they don’t even exist.
The clip starts at 3:33 and goes until 4:34.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPDEDLPKQZo&feature=BFa&list=ULyhcfswUJRQg
Throughout the entire movie, Taylor (the main character) refuses to shut down her “Cliquesters” page even though it causes her nothing but grief. “Skyler Sierra, an eighteen-year-old from Colorado, succintly articulated the importance of these new media to these teens’ social lives when she explained to her mother that “if you’re not on MySpace, you don’t exist.” For many contemporary teenagers, losing access to social media is tantamount to losing their social world.”(Mizuko, p. 79) These social networks are teenager’s life. They are the popular places to socialize and are becoming the base of their “social world.” To Taylor, and many teenagers, getting rid of their accounts would be like cutting themselves off of everything that was going on around them.
Social networks are becoming even more and more personalized, where you can now reveal pretty much everything about you on them. On Facebook’s new feature of “Timeline”, you can literally outline and post every significant event in your life. You can tell everyone where and when you were born, where you have lived in your life, who’s your family, where you work, etc. It is basically a written and visual diary of your life. In essence, your social profile is you. And detaching from your profile is almost like detaching from yourself. It’s like erasing everything about you. This is why Taylor had a hard time getting rid of her Cliquesters account.
In conclusion, social networking sites can be good and bad for teenagers. They can be good because they can open up new doors and new connections to teenagers hoping to meet/get to know people. They, also, help strengthen friendships between individuals, because now they can communicate whenever they are able to. However, there is a downside to social network use: like the addictions that teenagers develop towards these sites. Some additions becoming so bad that they end up hurting the individual. And these sites create environments that, while are easy to use and accessible, they can also become unavoidable and can cross the lines of private and public life.
Mizuko Ito et al (2010). Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT. Biname, Charles (2011). Cyberbully: An ABC Family Original Movie.