Teenage social media butterflies may not be such a bad idea

I will admit a parent that think kids do not talk any more. The communicate through text messages, emails, and facebook. Could I be wrong. Well this article claims that social media can actually help teenagers. What do you think?

Teenage social media butterflies may not be such a bad idea

By Melissa Healy – Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — With his gaze fixed on a tiny screen, hearing plugged by earbuds and fingers flying, the average teenager may look like a disaster in the making: socially stunted, terminally distracted and looking for trouble. But look beyond the dizzying array of beeping, buzzing devices and the incessant multitasking, say psychologists, and today’s digital kids may not be such a disaster after all.

Far from hampering adolescents’ social skills or putting them in harm’s way as many parents have feared, electronics appear to be the path by which kids today develop emotional bonds, their own identities, and an ability to communicate and work with others.

In fact, kids most likely to spend lots of time on social media sites are not the least well-adjusted, but the psychologically healthiest, suggests an early, but accumulating, body of research.

In one new study, 13- and 14-year-olds were found to interact on social network sites such as Facebook and MySpace simply in ways that were consistent with their offline relationships and patterns of behavior. And of the 86 percent of kids who used social media sites (a number that reflects the national average), participants who were better adjusted in their early teens were more likely to use social media in their early 20s, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or their parents’ income.

Adolescents are largely using social networking sites to keep in touch with friends they already know, not to converse with strangers, said the author of that research,University of Virginia psychologist Amori Yee Mikami.

“So parents of well-adjusted teens may have little to worry about regarding the way their children behave when using social media,” Mikami added. “It’s likely to be similarly positive behavior.”

Megan Mills, a Los Angeles eighth-grader, and her mother would agree. Megan cut her digital teeth on the tween social networking site Club Penguin.

Now 14, she has graduated to a Facebook account. She counts her mom among her many “friends” — a status that gives Donna Schwartz Mills access to her daughter’s ongoing electronic chatter and a condition that Mills laid down before allowing her daughter’s foray into teen social networking.

Mills, 54 and herself a blogger, says she’s seen little to fret about — and much to cheer — on her periodic visits to her daughter’s Facebook page. The teen, who has scaled back a once all-consuming commitment to gymnastics, keeps in touch with friends and coaches from that phase of her life, as well as with current friends that Mills knows well.

“People are always worried about the Internet making it easier for strangers to hurt your children,” Mills says. But she points out: “The dangers are the old dangers of who they hang out with.”

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