Teens taking Facebook breaks together

I think it’s not so much taking a break from technology as it is from high school drama – though social networking does make it easy to have the drama in their faces 24/7, if they allow it to. The New York Times tells of two high school juniors in San Francisco who, “by mutual agreement,” allow themselves to log on to Facebook only the first Saturday of each month. “The two are among the many teenagers, especially girls, who are recognizing the huge distraction Facebook presents – the hours it consumes every day, to say nothing of the toll it takes during finals and college applications, according to parents, teachers and the students themselves,” the Times reports. Some deactivate their accounts, others form support group (not Facebook groups!) to help each other stay away. The Times cites the view of a psychologist and “Internet addiction” center director that Facebook’s just like any other addiction. I’m no psychologist, but I do think it might be partly the real-life reality TV of school life that’s addictive. On p. 2 of the article, the view of educator and author Rachel Simmons seems to agree when she refers to how hard it can be for teens to turn away from the sort of ticker tape of their social circle represented by Facebook’s News Feed when they’re “obsessed” with where they stand in that “social landscape.” I’m impressed with the initiative they’re taking (are they feeling that reflection time is healthy and acting on that?). But I wonder if, by creating agreements and forming support groups they’re any less tethered to each other (see MIT sociologist Sherry Turkle’s “Always-On/Always-On-You: The Tethered Self”) and using technology that much less. Do they not need texting and talking on mobile phones to maintain pacts and check up on each other? Still, I’m sure there are some adults just as addicted to drama who could take a queue from these high school students.

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