Youngsters need to get a life!

LAST week communications watchdog Ofcom reported a decline in young people using social networking sites, which is positive news as far as I am concerned. The use of Facebook and similar sites by the 15-24 age group has decreased from 55 per cent in the f

LAST week communications watchdog Ofcom reported a decline in young people using social networking sites, which is positive news as far as I am concerned.

The use of Facebook and similar sites by the 15-24 age group has decreased from 55 per cent in the first quarter of 2008 to 50 per cent in the same period of 2009.

Granted, it's not a huge decline, but it's a definite step in the right direction and I hope the trend continues.

Those gripped by social networking sites have become narrators of their own lives, instead of the main characters.


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Obsessed with documenting mundane aspects of their every day, it prevents people from truly living. Precious time is wasted by those determined to tell the world they were late for work, that they are having a ham sandwich for lunch, and that they can't wait for tonight's episode of EastEnders.

Reality takes a back seat to this virtual world in which bullying is rife and, given its global capabilities, can be catastrophic. These sites give bullies a platform, and make it easy for these cowards to launch a venomous attack.

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I must confess that I signed up to Facebook a while back, to find out what all the fuss is about. I was immediately inundated with 'friend requests' from a whole host of people from my past. People in my year at my primary school and secondary school came out of the woodwork and before I knew it I had more than 150 'friends'. But the fact is that most of these people are not my friends - they are just plain nosey; keen to compare the success (or not) of our lives since we were last in touch, more than a decade ago.

How many of people's social networking 'friends' can actually be classed as real ones? Who honestly has more than a handful of true friends? What a complete waste of time - not only updating people with the dull, tedious minutiae of your daily life, but updating people who have little interest in you in the first place.

Life is not a rehearsal and it does not require a running commentary.

Friends should sit, talk, walk, argue, laugh and cry together in order to fully engage in reality and make the most of life. Parents should not only be encouraging this, but insisting upon it. It is their responsibility to ensure their children are using their formative years to interact with people face-to-face, and investing in a handful of true friendships which are worthwhile.

Social networking sites could lead to some youngsters becoming introverted, lacking in confidence and self-esteem, and unable to form well-rounded relationships. The ramifications are immense, but not fully appreciated it would seem.

Before youngsters could tweet, blog, micro blog, update their status and post notes on their wall, children would throw wide their front doors, knock for their friends, and open themselves up to a whole host of possibilities. Let's get back to that.

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