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I.M. Me Back

Felicia gets home from school on a Wednesday afternoon and the first thing she does is… no, not homework. She gets on MySpace.com, a social networking website commonly used by adolescents today. She logs on, checks her messages, and starts chatting with friends. This is how the average day for the average teen goes. “I often just like to relax from a long day at school or something, but I have to admit that I often get out of hand, and lose track of time,” says Evan, a Xanga member. Networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, Xanga, and Twitter are slowly consuming the young minds of today.

Homework gets put aside, families are separated, and the average teens ability to socialize under normal conditions is minimized.


Stay A Little While, Child


Teenagers now spend all their time in front of the computer on AIM, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, you name it, they have one. They barely have time to go outside anymore, and claim “they’re too old for that”. “Kids just want to grow up so fast nowadays, they barely have time to enjoy being a kid,” says Janine, a mother of two Xanga users. Getting carried away is an easy task, and teens often like to pretend like it’s just a game. “People often post revieling pictures of themselves on their pages, but they don’t ever think about who is seeing those pictures,” says Denise, a teenage Xanga user.

You’re profile may be set to the private setting, but people can still see your default picture, and sometimes kids just don’t realize that. “They just think they’re so old, that they can take care of themselves, but they really don’t know or understand half of the dangers out there,” says Patricia, a mother of six, and now a grandmother.

Bedtime Stories


Teenagers have become so wrapped up in their social lives, they use programs like MySpace all day long to keep up their “social circle”, and sometimes in even runs into early mornings. “I often do stay on MySpace for a little longer than necessary, but I just lose track of time and don’t realize it”, says a student who uses Xanga on a regular basis. Falling asleep to the sound of your own fingers tapping away at the keyboard is not an uncommon thing for young adults in the 21st century. “I’ll often log on after coming home from work and check my messages on my AIM Account, and I’ll see that some of my friends still haven’t logged off from 8 o’clock this morning, and it could be like 11 PM,” says Toni, a teenage MySpace and AIM user. Hiding how long you have been online is nearly impossible now that every website has an icon that times how long you have been signed on. “I remember those days when if you wanted to talk to your pal at 1:00 in the morning we would have to sneak across town to see them, now a kid just sneaks the laptop into their rooms and has instant access to incredible amounts of danger,” says Janice, a mother of two teenagers.


Sweet Child O’ Mine


She's is not the only parent to be concerned of her children. Millions of other parents are out there, worrying about what’s going on with their kids when they come home from school and go straight into seclusion in their bedrooms. Just the other day my mom and I were at a Bruster’s ice cream shop after I came from a doctor’s appointment, and there was a group of kids standing off to the side taking pictures during school hours, then one of them said “This is going straight to my MySpace”. Students have gotten to the point to where they are skipping school to take MySpace pictures to post on their profiles for their friends to see. “I often go to the mall with my friends and take pictures, nobody says anything, but everyone knows that we all intend for those pictures to show up on our profiles later, and we all know that that’s why we’re taking them in the first place,” says 15 year old Felicia, a Facebook user, who goes on to say “it makes us feel like we’re part of the crowd, having pictures of yourself with people and on the phone makes people think of you as someone with a large social network, which is what we all want.” The same thing goes for kids who add people they don’t know just so that they can have more friends on their pages. “It gets really out of hand sometimes,” says Denise, a Xanga user user.


Comatose

Social networking sites were originally created for people to communicate with friends who they have otherwise lost touch with, but teens are obsessed with it, it practically defines who they are now. “If used properly, these websites can be a great way to keep in touch with friends, but incessant use can interfere with the experience of your childhood and just being a kid,” says Cyrah Joy, a MySpace ‘activist’, “I don’t see what’s so great about it anyway, it’s just a whole bunch of kids trying to fit in with the crowd, nobody really uses it for it’s original purpose anymore.” Adolescents are starting to abuse these websites. They post inappropriate pictures, comments, and they’re pages demonstrate a lack of principle and measure for when things get out of control. “Like more than half the kids I know who have a MySpace have it without their parents concent,” says Samantha, a Facebook and MySpace user, “I think that’s really dangerous because then their parents can’t even monitor it, plus it’s just plain dangerous to not have your parents know what’s going on in your life so they can protect you and give you advice.” Whenever I go over to a friends house, they almost always ask if I want to go on MySpace, which is shocking, because up until now, I always thought it was one of those things you did when you wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t with you at the moment. It’s pretty rude to suggest something like that when you have a guest over. “It seems like they just can’t wake up and are permanently hypnotized by the magic of their online social lifes,” says Janice, a mother of two teenagers, one who is an occasional MySpace user.

Easy Tiger


MySpace, Xanga, Facebook, and other sites can all be good fun, but one must be able to draw the line and know when to quit. Parents need to monitor their children better, to make sure they are doing what is best for them. So that they can get the best out of their years as a carefree teenager.*




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