If you're fortunate enough to have already gotten your awkward and formative teenage years out of the way, count your lucky stars because teenagers are all but being sucked down into the third level of internet hell these days. 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.
For one, you can hardly be a teenager these days without being online as 95% are reportedly plugged in and 80% use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and, well, pretty much any site that includes some sort of socializing, which is basically everything on the internet these days. What's more, and in what can only be described as a mistake of youth, one-third of teens say they use Facebook as a place to find love. That's more than the 20% of teens who are still hoping to find that special someone within church communities.
While there isn't anything inherently wrong with using sites like Facebook to go looking for love, this doe-eyed quest for some tender loving care on Facebook unfortunately leaves kids vulnerable to some creepy doings. 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 didn't have enough natural difficulty, 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.
Some more information to make you uncomfortably readjust in your chair:
46% of teens feel the Internet influences what their boyfriend or girlfriend expects from them in terms of relationship behavior. 29% of girls say that they have experienced interactions on the Internet with members of the opposite sex that made them feel pressured, uncomfortable or threatened, compared to 18% of boys and 20% overall. 23% of all teens say that they've received unwanted attention from the opposite sex online.
And here we thought that cyber-bullying was the big problem to be concerned about on Facebook in regard to teens, which is a somewhat more recent phenomenon. However, creepy people have been lurking in the dark alleys of the internet since the whole thing started, so it shouldn't be much of surprise that these trolls have crawled out from the slimy bridges they live under and found their way onto social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. As much as Facebook tries to emphasize positive interactions and reinforce happy meal behaviors on the site, it's trying to break humans from not defaulting into their most basic, reptilian tendencies and being uncouth weirdos.