As a kid I remember my parents saying something along the lines of, “You will have great friends in high school, but college is where you will really make your lifelong friends.” They thought of friends from high school as a thing of the past because that was their experience.
They were right about making lifelong friends in college, but they were mistaken about losing my friends from high school. Just last week I hosted a poker game and a lot of the guys there were old friends from high school, a few of which are still some of my best friends to this day.
How did I tell all these supposed long lost friends about the poker game? Facebook.
Social Networks Have Changed the Friend Game
By Webster’s definition of friend (“a favored companion”), most of the guys in attendance were not really my friends but acquaintances. Facebook says they are my friends though, and if it weren’t for that big blue social network, I wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to invite them since I don’t even have their telephone numbers.
This phenomenon of keeping in touch through social networks has some more subtle implications as well. A Common Sense Media study found that “teens say that using their social networking site makes them feel less shy and more outgoing.” (Read more about the results here) So, in addition to making it logistically easier to stay in touch, social media may also make one more likely to reach out to others. Countless relationships have begun at events organized through Facebook.
Social Networks Can Strain Relationships Too
With the proliferation of mobile and new kid-friendly devices, it is getting easier for little ones to get connected too. That may be good for staying in touch with grandma, but it could also lead to bad social habits as they get older.
For example, the Common Sense Media study also found, “45% of teens say they sometimes get frustrated with their friends for texting, surfing the internet, or checking their social networking sites while they’re hanging out together.” Social networks can be a great tool for keeping friends, but just like everything in life, social networking is only good in moderation.
A Prescription for Moderation
If social networks can both increase and decrease the number and quality of interpersonal relationships a user has, how are we supposed to impart proper habits to children?
We understand moderation at Famigo, and we strive to create the best possible products for families. With the Famigo Sandbox, we give parents the power to help their children develop good digital habits.
The Sandbox blocks social networks, but we don’t do this because we think there’s no place for social networking in our lives. Rather, we want to make sure that parents have the opportunity to be deliberate and intentional about managing their kids’ online activities.
Instead of releasing your children into the wild that is the mobile environment, Famigo gives you the ability to keep your kids safe until they are the appropriate age and you have the time to take well-supervised forays into the parts of the digital ecosystem where the greatest dangers lurk.
That way, your kids can learn how to use tools such as social networks to enrich their lives rather than learn habits that will ultimately frustrate 45% of their friends.
Raised in Austin, TX since age three, John has always bled orange and is set to graduate from The University of Texas this December with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He helps out the Famigo Team with the Android Sandbox App and anything else that comes his way. While not looking busy at the office, he loves water sports and hanging out with family and friends.