The Impact of Online Communication on American Teenage Social lives

Although some amount of technology can be beneficial in teenage lives, overuse of technology can cause them to become socially isolated. Social isolation is when teenagers are not properly forming bonds with peers. This occurs a lot because teenagers are too busy on their phones to look up and interact with the people surrounding them. According to an article called what is social isolation, “The detrimental health effects of social isolation include poor self-esteem, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, increased risk of substance abuse, higher risk of poor physical health, and increased mortality.”(What Is Social Isolation?) Just as it seems, these effects are brutal during teenage years because teenagers are already experiencing hormonal changes and changes in their self esteem. The Piney Ridge Treatment Center for mental health issues concluded that a common side effect of depression in teenagers is social withdrawal.(Symptoms & Side Effects of Depression) Social withdrawal is when a teenager avoids talking to people or doing activities they normally would enjoy doing because of hormonal imbalances they are experiencing.
Social withdrawal is a key aspect when thinking about communication, because without socializing teenagers can experience social disconnectedness. According to Clifford Singer, a geriatrician and psychiatrist from Maine who directs the Mood and Memory Clinic at Acadia Hospital, “Social disconnectedness is defined as lack of contact with others. Perceived isolation is defined as the subjective experience of lack of companionship and support.”(Singer) When teenagers are online they could be severely affecting their real world relationships, therefore causing themselves a lack of companionship. While considering that social withdrawal is a side effect of depression, overuse of technology can lead to depression which therefore leads to less social interactions. According to Haesue Jo, a mental health therapist who focuses on anxiety and depression, “Depression doesn’t just occur for an individual in vacuum; it can affect your friends, family, co-workers, and everyone around you.”(MA) A teenager struggling with mental health issues due to over use of communicating online, can be impacting the world around them without even realizing. These effects could change a teenagers life and could cause damage that will last into their future, and affect the future of others. Without realizing the medical problems of technology teens are still over using it and starting to damage their social lives.
Throughout history the technology use among teenagers has increased notoriously. In research based from the American life project, a case study observing teenage communication states that in 2001 74% of teenagers who are online use instant messaging and 69% of them use it at least several times a week.”(Quinn) This data concludes that more than half of the American teenagers today are using technology as a main source of contact with friends. Society is very fortunate to have technology, and communication was a lot harder in the past when there weren’t many ways to communicate besides face to face conversations. Technology can be really helpful in forming bonds, so teenagers aren’t really worried about what using online communication is actually doing to them. According to the pew research center of internet and technology, “teens who say social media has had a mostly positive effect on them tended to stress issues related to connectivity and connection with others.” (Anderson, Jingjing) Social connections play a big role in social lives. Those who spend a lot of time online can suffer from less social connectedness and therefore can feel alone in the real world.
An important part in development is learning how to communicate and make interpersonal connections. A main factor in changing the interpersonal communication between teens is online gaming. Although online communication causes for a decrease in social interaction it can in some cases be found to help increase interpersonal communication. Some people have trouble communicating in real life but are able to communicate better online. According to Jane McGonigal the main designer of the online game World of Warcraft, “ it turns out that by spending all this time playing games, we’re actually changing what we are capable of as human beings. We’re evolving to be a more collaborative and hearty species. (McGonigal) Some teenagers who look to games as a way to form bonds with people, start to interact more with peers which could bring them out of their shell in real world conversations. This can overall cause for more collaborative people in the world. This side of the argument is not effective, because although teenagers who can’t communicate well are able to communicate online there is still a large amount of teenagers who don’t have a problem communicating that are overusing online communication. The overuse by these teens is affecting conversations, which balances out the positive effects of online communication for not as social people. Teenagers in general need to start making more interactions in person and not online to have better and healthier conversations in their life.

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