.::Facebook and Grades

I came across the following infographic today and I found it to reinforce a few things about technology and the soul of the teenager.  (You can click on it to be able to zoo in on it if you can’t read it.):

1.  Teenagers gain a significant amount of affirmation from Facebook.  Imagine every notification badge or “Like” or comment on a wall as a way a teen hears, “I care about you” or “You are important to me.”  The same is true about every text message.  It is a digital hug or high five from a friend.  This feeds and nourishes the soul.  This infographic shows that teens on average go on to Facebook 6 times a day to get that affirmation.  The question remains as to whether or not it is enough . . .

2.  Teens find significance and empowerment online.  This is a spiritual quest as well.  As they post to Facebook Your Tube and Twitter, they instantly become participants in something larger than themselves.  As you look at the pie graphs about sharing links and commenting, this is what that behavior is all about.  This is spiritual at its core as it is vocational . . . when they comment and share links, teens are creating something bigger than themselves.   This is vital to a teen’s struggle through adolescence where one of the main questions they must answer is “Do I and my choices matter?”  Participating online helps them achieve some of this significance.

3.  Facebook is the new “Cheers.”  Remember the theme song for the old 80’s sitcom, “Cheers” that preached, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.”  Here is a space for a teen who feels all alone, isolated and lonely to find others who knows what it is like to be them.  When I was growing up in the 70s-80s, if there wasn’t anyone else like me at my school, I was stuck.  Facebook and tech lets me be connected to others who are like me.  It may actually help squelch that loneliness in many teens.

4.  Technology is NOT evil.  We can make is a scapegoat for bad grades, poor performance, etc. but we cannot.  As this research shows, you can’t use it to correlate between time spent online and bad grades for most students.  Our use of tech may or may not be healthy, productive or even good.  For example, when a teen slams a peer on Facebook or Twitter, then technology’s virtues or vices becomes all about how we use it.  So we might not want to throw Facebook out with the bathwater, but we may want to help teens keep some sort of daily and weekly Tech Sabbaths

Yes, the 106 minutes that a teen spend on Facebook should be concerning to parents, teachers, youth ministers, coaches, etc. but let us be cautious to condemn Facebook and technology as being the downfall of civilization and socialization as we know it.

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