Social media creating anti-social youth
TOO many friends.
University of Kwazulu-natal associate professor for information systems, Manoj Maharaj, believes that most children who use social networks Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry Messenger and Whatsapp are too busy with their virtual friends to make real ones.
And, he skills.
“They withdraw into living on this [virtual] island [to the extent] that they don’t even know their neighbourhood. They don’t play outside or even go out long enough to be away from their virtual friends.
“They befriend people in the virtual realm but might never speak to that person in reality, even if they go to the same school. The introvert child becomes even more withdrawn. The longterm effects are very concerning,” he said.
Maharaj said the recent increase in the number of school shootings in the US might be linked to the teenage killers having online “friends” who had reinforced their motives.
The suicide of a homosexual US college student after his peers taunted him online, highlighted the threat of cyber bullying.
Kwazulu-natal Childline director Linda Naidoo said the big concern in South Africa was that too many children were isolating real people in favour of virtual friends.
“Sometimes they are able to remain anonymous and live in this virtual world so they are unable to develop the skills to live in the real world.
“We also find that children who are hooked on these social networks become so consumed by the topic of the day or an event that they don’t know what is happening in the real world.
“These children cannot face reality, have difficulty making decisions, cannot relate to real people, and cannot form intimate relationships.
“I know of a case in which a man had never spoken to someone of the opposite sex and could not meet women because he had become so involved in the virtual world that he knew how to chat to them only online.
“He did not know how woman,” Naidoo said.
“I think that parents don’t know the risk because children are steps ahead of them when it comes to technology,” Naidoo said.
“Parents, the community, the media and the education system must unite to educate children on the proper use of the social media and reinforce their social skills.”
conversation with a