Time to make friends with Facebook

By Mollie Roy

With over a dozen schools in Kitchissippi, September means back to school for lots of families in our community.

A new school year brings different things to different people. For school staff, it’s a return to work. For students, it can be both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time as we reconnect with friends and familiar routines.

When I was in elementary school, I remember feeling a little shy and nervous returning to the classroom after a summer away from most of my friends. For younger kids, it can be harder to reconnect and settle back into the social groove. As a teen, I feel like I now have more control over how I stay connected with people, even while we’re separated by time and distance over the busy summer months.

While teenagers still spend time reuniting with peers as we return to school in the fall, the advent of social media has made it much easier to interact with friends and even family members, too.

While face-to-face conversations or talking on the phone are more personal forms of communication, I find it efficient to use social media, such as text messaging and Facebook, to help me make and keep connections with others. Although I have been away and my friends have been travelling or at camp, we’ve been able to stay in touch thanks to Facebook.

I feel a lot less ‘out of the loop’ than I would without these electronic tools, whether I have been uploading a few pictures from the cottage, checking my friends’ status postings to see where they are, or having a quick coast-to-coast text message chat. I expect I’ll soon start using Skype more often to video chat with my brother and cousins away at university.

Most teens have heard a lot of criticism about Facebook. Some parents worry that their children are spending too much time on the computer when they could be partaking in more productive activities.

In my house, we have had many discussions about how Facebook postings can affect one’s future – everything from scholarships, to university acceptances, to job prospects and more.

The media frequently portrays Facebook as a huge invasion of privacy and suggests that teens are not aware of the implications of posting information and pictures in cyberspace.

It’s not that teens aren’t conscious of the downside of Facebook; I think that some people just choose not to let this affect what they post. I believe parents should be educated about social media in order to better understand what their kids are doing online. Many parents may not realize some of the advantages of Facebook, such as controlling invitations to social events or setting up discussion groups for school project work.

Used properly and in moderation, social media is very useful. Electronic socialization over the summer months is a case in point.

Over the holidays, I’ve really enjoyed staying in touch with my friends using Facebook, and I like posting pictures of places I have visited. Now that school has start-ed, however, I do have to admit that it is great to be back to connecting face to face with friends and even teachers.

Mollie Roy is a 15-year-old student in Grade 10 at Nepean High School. She will be an ongoing contributor to the Kitchissippi Times.

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