The Evolving Normalcy of Social Media

January 11th, 2012

I’ve blogged quite a bit about how technology-in-society is becoming the norm.

For the present, I am still a social anomaly. But I am confident that over the years, my behavior will become more acceptable.

Pioneers always take the arrows.

The Times has a good piece discussing this evolution. In fact, when the telephone first came out, people freaked!

More than a hundred years ago, when the telephone was introduced, there was some hand-wringing over the social dangers that this new technology posed: increased sexual aggression and damaged human relationships. “It was going to bring down our society,” said Dr. Megan Moreno, a specialist in adolescent medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Men would be calling women and making lascivious comments, and women would be so vulnerable, and we’d never have civilized conversations again.” In other words, the telephone provoked many of the same worries that more recently have been expressed about online social media. “When a new technology comes out that is something so important, there is this initial alarmist reaction,” Dr. Moreno said.

Eventually people will realize this technology is just part of our lives. Live with it.

Researchers are also looking to Facebook, Twitter and the rest for opportunities to identify problems, to hear cries for help and to provide information and support. Dr. Rich, who sees many teenagers who struggle with Internet-related issues, feels strongly that it is important to avoid blanket judgments about the dangers of going online.

“We should not view social media as either positive or negative, but as essentially neutral,” he said. “It’s what we do with the tools that decides how they affect us and those around us.”

And it seems social media can play a key role in a child’s development:

Our children are using social media to accomplish the eternal goals of adolescent development, which include socializing with peers, investigating the world, trying on identities and establishing independence.

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media issued a clinical report, “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents and Families.” It began by emphasizing the benefits of social media for children and adolescents, including enhanced communication skills and opportunities for social connections.

“A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cellphones,” the report noted. . . .

Social media, said Dr. Rich, “are the new landscape, the new environment in which kids are sorting through the process of becoming autonomous adults — the same things that have been going on since the earth cooled.”