Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Facebook Dilemma

As I mentioned Monday, social media was a big topic at this year's American Psychological Association convention. One of the big talks, given by Dr. Larry Rosen, was about the effects of social media, and particularly Facebook, on teens.

The recent findings?
  • Tweens and teens who "overuse" media and technology are more prone to a host of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Teens who are heavy Facebook users are more narcissistic, and may show more tendencies toward aggression and manic behaviors.
  • Facebook is legit distracting (huh? who knew?). Middle and high schoolers who checked Facebook at least once every fifteen minutes had lower grades.

WHOA. That sounds terrible! But then, there were also these findings:
  • Teens who spend more time on Facebook are more more adept at offering "virtual empathy" to online friends.
  • Networking via social media can help introverted teens reach out and connect with others.
  • Social networking can be part of innovative teaching techniques that engage tweens and teens.
What do you make of this stuff? Is Facebook good or evil or both?

Now, I have a confession. *SOME* of you have asked me why I'm not on Facebook. The answers have to do with my profession and my fear that it's a huge time suck.

However ... yeah. I bit the bullet. Sort of. I now have a page on Facebook, right here. It's a fanpage rather than a profile, so I guess you can "like" it and post on the wall and stuff. At this point, there's not much there. But there will be. Someday.

When I figure out the "there" that's supposed to be there.

Honestly? I really have no clue how the whole thing works. I don't even know if the above link takes you to the right place (will someone please tell me if it doesn't?). So ... please educate me. For those of you who are Facebook pros, give me advice! How should I use this? What am I supposed to do with it? I don't intend to use it for personal reasons and that's the reason it's a fanpage instead of a profile. I'm using it as a writer. Now, please help me. What am I supposed to be doing? What's the etiquette?

Also, feel free to laugh at me. It's okay. Really. I deserve it.

Because it's Wednesday, check out Lydia's answer to this month's Sisterhood of the Traveling blog question about which genre we're crushing on and why we haven't written it ... yet.


  1. To start off you can use it like Twitter, posting notifications of blog updates. You could also use it to make smaller notifications that aren't quite blog-worthy, and as your fan count builds it can be useful for organising any publicity events or starting forum-like discussions, and for posting photographs or images of book covers.

  2. I like you! (Well, I liked you anyway, but now I like you on FB, using my married name of Cousins.)

    Paul's given a pretty good list up above -- it's a good place for discussions, votes, sharing links and so on.

  3. Like Paul, I use Facebook like Twitter. The only difference is I don't post as often because updates tend to "stick" in people's Home Feed (i.e. the more others Like or Comment on an update, the more it will appear in others' feed). I stick to once or twice a day.

    But that's my personal page. Don't know much about pages (I have one, but it's got like 3 Likes and I never pimp it so...).

  4. I have a FB account, which I started before I began Twittering and blogging. But that was started because of an old friend of mine had friended me before I had an account. My blog posts are linked to it, but I very rarely use the account. It's mostly used for group things, when we communicate with each other (like my local kidlit writers lunch group).

  5. You've already gotten the advice I would have given you, so I'll just tell you funny things.

    My younger daughter has a Facebook account, but my older one doesn't. She doesn't want one. I suppose that's a good thing, but now I wonder whether she's just introverted.

    She spends most of her online time on Deviantart, and it has a lot of social networking of its own.

    I commented on your Facebook page, stick lady.

  6. I liked you (and still like you). :) I'm so glad you posted on this because I'm going to come back and read all of the comments at the end of today. I'm needing to make a FB fan page, too. What I'd like to figure out is how to attach my blog posts and twitter both to update on my FB page. I know there's some way to do that ... just not sure how to go about it. Hmm.

  7. ugh. i hate facebook. it gave my computer virtual gonnorhea... which then spread to every single "friend" on there. it took two full days of going through files with my dad to root out the last bit of that malware worm, even though both facebook and my mcafee said my computer was clean. curse you facebook!!!

    i hope you have a better experience than me! :)

  8. Thanks for this - I'm a heavy social media user (for professional stuff) but I've hesitated to get my kids on it. Still mulling it over ...

    Thanks for the post!

  9. Oh I will totally go like your page...this is the beginning you know. I still mostly use my FB account for personal stuff. I figure I've got the blog and twitter for the writer me. Interesting about the reports from the APA. At the elementary level, and in schools, it's a huge problem because we don't have any control over what the kids do with it at home but all the problems and peer controversy that arise from it spill over into the school day--and my office. Texting is also a total pain in the hands of still socially developing 5th graders (especially girls!).

  10. No laughing here! Social media is such a scare sometimes. Remember how weird I felt starting up Twitter?

    FB is pretty low maintenance. You can use it as much or little as you want. There's a writer's group I belong to which is locked and nice for getting out your angst and happy news. Email me if you'd like to join!

  11. I haven't jumped the gun yet and signed up for Facebook but maybe I should.

  12. I'm on Facebook, but only check in once a week. Dont' have time for more.

  13. Hmmm...I wonder if these findings for teens can be extrapolated to adults? I bet a few can, but I don't have any hard data to support that conclusion.

  14. So the whole Narcissistic and Virtual Empathy things are a bit conflicting, no? LOL. I say it depends on the person. Is that a copout answer? I am on FB, but only for personal use. I have all privacies on and don't respond to friend requests from other writers unless it's a close friend. Why? I'm not comfortable with it. FB worries me. I truly enjoy Twitter and blogging, so that's where I really spend my time. And I'm trying out Google +.

  15. Huh--two sides to every coin, huh?

    See I use my FB acct. to keep up with family and friends (it's actually GREAT for that esp. those in otehr states)! IF people friend me and I don't know them very well from the blogging world, I won't friend back. Thus I keep my numbers low and I like it that way!

    So that's pretty much no help at all for you-sorry!

  16. I was a latecomer to FB, too, fearing as you do that it would suck up all my time. It doesn't. I check it once or twice a day for two or three minutes and then move on. Most posts are silly (why do I care what someone ate for lunch?). I have my blog networked so that whenever I post it automatically updates on my FB homepage. That is pretty much the only thing I put out there. The big time suck for me is blogging! Notice I'm not working on my YA manny right now. LOL

  17. The biggest downside to using Facebook as a fan page (instead of as a 'user') is that you remove some of the social aspect of it. People can see you, and write to you, but you can't see them. A fan page is very one-sided. It's like using Twitter, but ONLY having followers. You only know what's going on in the Facebook world when people comment on your page.

    I think of the fan page as an ad site that people sign up to see. You can post your blog entries there (check out the Networked Blog app in Facebook so it feeds automatically) and when you have book news and stuff that people want to know about.

    I don't mean to imply that you SHOULDN'T have a fan page. That might be all you're looking for. But if you want to truly interact on Facebook (and I'm not saying it's for everyone!!), you might have to bite the bullet and start making "friends."

    You know. Like me. :-)

  18. *whistles and thinks of step-by-step directions while giggling*

  19. Ah, Facebook. I joined Facebook reluctantly over a year ago but have grown to like it. I've reconnected with people I hadn't talked to in years and that has been fun. The conversations are all over the place.

  20. FB is for personal stuff (old college friends, family across the globe.) I empathize with Becky Taylor's comment about the problems it can cause with teens. They friend indiscriminately and it can be a massive tme suck. That said, it's good for a kidlit writer to snoop on there (we forced our son to friend us) and see how teens really talk!!!

  21. I'm trying to like Facebook, Sarah, Really. But I find it the least appealing of all social media. However, it does seem to offer a great way to share good information in more than 140 characters, if you can wade through all the 'what I did today' posts. But here's a important warning I got from a friend on Tuesday, with an easy fix:
    WARNING MY FRIENDS......Facebook has changed and said nothing. Take a
    look at your URL (top box on your screen.) If you see "http" or just "www" instead of "https" you DO NOT have a secure session & can be hacked. Go to Account Settings, then the yellow Security icon, and click on Edit. Check the box for secure browsing and click Save. FB has automatically set it on the non-secure setting! Do everyone a huge favor, copy & re-post.

  22. hey! your little stick person is on FB? I'll have to check that out.

    I got on FB years ago as a way to keep my enormous family updated on my girls and what was happening with us. My family is big, but they're interested. :D

    Now it's turned into this crazy, blasts from the past thing, which is good and bad.

    I can see how the statements about how FB impacts teens can be true, and honestly, I'm not sure I'd give my teen free rein on FB. But who knows. I don't have teens.

    Now to check you out~ :D

  23. This is one topic I have to comment on. Honestly, I'm not a lover of what Facebook does to people. I see it in my own house with my husband. People spend more time in their virtual worlds with their virtual friends from H.S. that they were never actually friends with in real life instead of the people right around them. I, literally, have to beg my husband to put his phone on the charger so he can pay attention to me and the kids. If I don't, I see the top of his head only from 5:00 to when I go to sleep at 10...and he's still on his smartphone.

    When it comes to teens and tweens, it's really the same situation, except I can see their grades dropping too because they're skipping over H.W. to see who's "liked" the rather clever status they've come up with.

    That's another thing. Many people think of FB as people watching other people. In a way it is, but that's not why it's so popular. It's more about people getting their egos stroked by how many people comment on their status or how many friends they have (the narcissism angle). My husband will spend an hour thinking of the perfect status message and then look at his phone every time it dings to get that ego massage. And if he doesn't get any dings, he gets depressed. It truly makes me cringe.

    I wish FB was never invented...and yes, I have a FB account. Unfortunately, it's hard not to now.

  24. No Facebook, no Twitter.
    It's like I'm some sort of stone age chick.

    I don't know whether social networking alone screws kids up. It seems like the ones who run everything through their iPhones are the ones that... well, survival of the fittest might thin out of the herd soon.

    My time alone is worth too much to me to even want to carry a phone aruond more than is necessary.

    But like I said, I'm cavewoman.

    Good luck with facebook.
    Don't stop doing this, though!

  25. I think I got my Facebook when I was 16. Thanks to it (and the rest of the internet) I have a much more varied group of friends than I would if I didn't. I understand a lot more about other cultures and ways of life. Prejudices that I had before I started making online friends have since been destroyed.

    Can Facebook be a bad thing? Yes. I've seen the results of cyberbullying. But blaming social networking for bullying is like blaming Twitter for the London riots. The social networking itself isn't to blame, the people behind it are.

  26. You're on Facebook now??? Oh, I'm soooooo gonna friend request you! ;)