Facebook is too far engrained into our society to be completely avoidable now – at least not without serious hardships. This isn’t Myspace or Ello or Peach or any of those other flash-in-the-pan social networks. Like it or not, Facebook has become too much of a valuable tool to go anywhere; it’s here to stay.
But while Facebook has some positive values, it also has a few drawbacks – especially when it comes to children. Here are three ways Facebook can ruin your kids:
1) It gives them false community.
One of the pluses and minuses of Facebook is the way it connects the world. Facebook provides a way for people around the globe to come to one place to argue about politics, religion, or the stylishness of Rihanna’s dress at the Grammys.
The problem is when this loosely affiliated group of people begins to take the place of real, in-person community. Because they just aren’t.
Real life is much messier than Facebook, but it also allows you the opportunity to enter that mess and work your way through it.
That’s what real community does. The fake community of Facebook doesn’t allow for that, instead replacing messiness with filters, muting, and unfriending. Facebook can be handy, but it isn’t a real community.
2) It teaches them that their value lies in likes.
One of the most subtly horrendous things about Facebook is the way it turns every observation into a value judgment. You post something and then wait for the likes to roll in, and the more likes you get, the better you feel about the post.
It can get really bad, to the point where you just keep visiting your page hoping to see that little red notification letting you know someone liked your post. And then the temptation turns to posting things you know will get likes, rather than posting what you want, when you want.
This goes for pretty much all social media, by the way: you put your post out there and hope to get it validated by your network through whatever way that network offers validation. It’s a terrible way to live and an unhealthy lens to look at yourself.
3) Facebook wants to be the lens through which you view the world.
It doesn’t cost money to use Facebook, but that doesn’t mean that Facebook is free. You pay for it with your time and your data, because the more you use it, the more valuable you become to Facebook.
Facebook wants you to use Facebook as often as possible.
It’s why they promote their Messenger mobile app – they want you to use Facebook instead of texting; they want you to use it instead of the phone. Facebook livestreamed a Presidential debate and there are even rumors that Facebook is negotiating with the NFL to livestream games through Facebook.
The only problem with this is that Facebook is a false lens. If that’s how you look at the world, you’re getting a skewed picture – the picture that Facebook wants you to get so that you spend more time there and make their company more valuable.
Facebook isn’t real, but it wants you to think it is. And that goes for your kids as well.
So make sure your kids know that Facebook is a handy tool that can help them stay on the same page as their friends or classmates, that can help them schedule events, that can keep them up to date on the news.
But then let them know that, when it comes to the world, nothing beats the real thing.