Atlantic Wire has a good post on the impact of Facebook on the brains of the teenagers who use it, based on a presentation to the American Psychological Association by psychologist Larry D. Rosen’s called “Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids.” Facebook has been so transformational that it is hard to remember it has only been around for seven years and only been available outside of college campuses for five, almost hard to remember life before status updates and likes. Our son went to college before social media. Two years later, our daughter arrived on her campus feeling as though she was already friends with some of her classmates by meeting them online.
It hasn’t been around long enough for long-term studies of its impact, but Rebecca Greenfield rounds up some of the research so far, finding that Facebook can promote “virtual empathy” and strengthen social skills. Perhaps most interesting, “When making friends on the social network, kids are more likely to overlook race and make friends based on interest, a UCLA study found.” But she notes that Facebook breeds narcissism and “doesn’t prepare kids for real-life talking.”