It’s hard to avoid the superlatives when it comes to Facebook, the social networking service that is now 8 years old and ready for its Initial Public Offering.
- 845 million active users
- Over 40 percent of the US population has a Facebook account
- Yearly revenue of over $4 billion
And Facebook has changed the lives of its users. We use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and relatives and to meet new friends. We use Facebook to share our ideas and to get new ones. And we use Facebook to feel good about ourselves – there’s really nothing like logging on and finding you’ve been multiply-friended overnight!
Some people believe that using Facebook and other social media are not adequate replacements for direct face-to-face contact with “real” people, and that spending too much time with social media may blunt our social skills. But there are now over 400 studies looking at the effects of Facebook on everyday behaviors, in both children and adults, and this research shows that Facebook is in fact a healthy way to connect with others.
One recent study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology,1 found that there was no trade-off between having large networks of Facebook friends and the ability to develop intimacy and social support among face-to-face friends. In fact, the opposite was true. Using Facebook increased the size of college students’ social networks and these larger networks were related to higher levels of life satisfaction and perceived social support. As the authors put it,
“…social networking sites help youth to satisfy enduring human psychosocial needs for permanent relations in a geographically mobile world.”
And many, many, other studies show similar results.
So don’t worry, moms and dads – Facebook is your friend. Your kids are at least as happy, caring, cared for, and emotionally supported on Facebook as they are in school or out with their friends at the mall. And you have a much better idea where they are.
1Manago, A. M., Taylor, T., & Greenfield, P. M. (2012). Me and my 400 friends: The anatomy of college students’ Facebook networks, their communication patterns, and well-being. Developmental Psychology. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=psyh&AN=2012-02329-001&site=ehost-live