So people think that social media is totally ruining the lives of our children – well I’m not sure, but I do know we can’t afford to put our heads in the sand over it.

A new survey by McAfee involving more than 1,000 teenagers aged 13 to 17 in the United States revealed that teens’ social interactions and personal relationships are being heavily influenced by social networks and the internet, and not exactly in a good way.

Let’s face it you can hardly be a teenager these days without being online  – as 95% are reportedly plugged in most of the time and 80% use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and, well, pretty much any site that includes some sort of interacting and socialising. What’s more disturbing is that one-third of teens say they use Facebook as a place to find love.

While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with using sites like Facebook to go looking for love, this rather naive quest for some tender loving care based on Facebook unfortunately leaves kids vulnerable to some creepy goings on.

34% of teen girls and 16% of boys say they have received unwanted attention from the opposite sex. What’s worse, 75% of teens – 68% of girls and 19% of boys – don’t tell their parents whenever online communication reaches that creeepy, icky, uncomfortable feeling.

 

“Teens today increasingly face pressure to live up to peer expectations and are basically growing up faster than the normal standards,” said Stanley Holditch, online family safety advocate with McAfee. Holditch’s assessment is reflected in some of the teens’ responses, as study participants laments that “everyone (on Facebook) is putting out there what they do with their boyfriends and there is some pressure to do the same.” As if being a teenager  isn’t frought enough with peer pressure and having to feel part of a group the fact that people are only ever posting things on Facebook of happy events and happy photos is giving teenagers an inferiority complex because they feel pressured to keep up with the endless newsfeed of warm, fuzzy updates.

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