The Negative Psychological Effect of Facebook on Children
Do you ever wonder what kind of deep permanent damage Facebook, and the internet in general, is doing to children? That would be an interesting longitudinal study.
Unfortunately I don’t have answers, but a few interesting scenarios are bouncing around in my brain. Particularly, how will the perceived notion of permanent reputation damage be viewed by children in their experimental stages of life.
As kids it was our job to make stupid mistakes as a way of experimentation, learning, and growth. At times we were mean and teased, but then we learned to be caring. We were insecure and fought, until we became brave. We were complete jackasses, until we learned to be sophisticated enough to be civil.
That’s fine, that’s what kids do, that’s how we all learned. However, what if there was a strict realistic expectation that whatever dumb thing came out of your mouth in 5th grade, would be blogged by Johnny when he got home, and thus your permanent reputation would be ingrained in internet history.
Three of several scenarios that I see:
The Silent Devil
A child grows up in fear of making the wrong moves. This child does not learn the lessons that come with the mistakes. The one skill that they master is how to hide their thoughts and actions from their family and friends, for fear of being written up on the net. They grow through life silently nurturing their inner daemons, while putting out a front that’s not really themselves.
The Ruined Rep
The other child dismisses the notion of public relations and goes on as children always have. Has a lot of good days and bad days, plays hard, speaks what is on his mind, and doesn’t worry about being written into internet history. He says a lot of things he regrets, learns from his mistakes, becomes an excellent guy, but unfortunately is scarred by past experiences and can never get a job because everyone of his potential employers always googles his name with the word asshole beside it to see just how many people he pissed off.
The Super Generation
Perhaps it doesn’t really take stupid mistakes to know and do the right thing. Perhaps the watchful eye will induce some sort of Hawthorne effect, where children are happy doing the right thing under a watchful eye. They’re able to document their progress, make incremental improvements, and take themselves to a level that even the most fanatical journal keeper of our generation is not able to harness of themselves.
So what will become of these future generations? The ones without the luxury to make mistakes in private? What’s your opinion? What other scenarios can you think of?