By Guest Author Jonathan Nielsen
“R U 4 real?” The use of phrases like this demonstrate how technology has managed to merge itself with the social life of teenagers in the form of instant messaging, text messaging and social networking sites such as Facebook. A little observation will tell anyone that a large percentage of a teen’s time is spent texting on his or her phone or chatting online. With so much time devoted to these activities, researchers want to know if there are any side effects.
Pierce set out to examine the effects that teen usage of these technologies might have on their social life. She conducted a study that sought to determine if there was a relationship between recent social technologies and shyness among teenagers. In the study, 280 teenagers answered survey questions regarding how much time they spend on socially interactive technologies such as text messaging, instant messaging, and social networking sites. In addition to finding out how much time teenagers spent on these technologies, the survey also asked questions regarding each teen’s feelings toward face-to-face communication.
The results revealed a clear connection between social introversion and the socially interactive technologies. Those who disliked personal communication were more likely to use socially interactive technologies. This suggests that these new technologies are providing shy individuals with a comfortable means of communication, while replacing any opportunities that these individuals may have had to get over their timidity by practicing face-to-face communication. Lastly, the author concludes that since these technologies are relatively new, society has yet to discover all of the possible consequences.
With the results of this study in mind, it is crucial for teens to evaluate their personal use of these technologies. Do they substitute personal time with friends for time on Facebook? Do they text their friends more than they call them? Are they using these technologies as a way to avoid their social anxieties? As foreign as these problems may be to parents and teachers, the answers to these questions are important to a teen’s future success in life. Face-to-face communication is vital in the workplace, and many teenagers may not be properly developing the necessary interpersonal skills; therefore, these questions must not be avoided. All of this is to say that teenagers must come to realize that they are an experimental generation– No other generation has grown up using these social technologies, and the consequences of these technologies are poorly known.
Pierce, T. (2009). Social anxiety and technology: Face-to-face communication versus technological communication among teens. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 1367-1372.