Is social media harming youngsters psychologically? Are people becoming media-enabled or media-dependent? Are they more isolated and their anxieties growing?
These questions are posed in a new book called The App Generation by two American professors, Howard Gardner of Harvard and Katie Davis of Washington State.
“Do we have apps? Or, do apps have us?” a reviewer asked. “On Facebook, people are more concerned with making it look like they’re living rather than actually living,” one child said.
Gardner and Davis wonder if Facebook is making youngsters more narcissistic. “I got 50 likes on that stupid picture I put up there. I guess people are taking notice of me.”
Do people have such fragile personalities that they need constant support? “Even the most confident Harvard grad…” a student said, “is scared half to death.”
The two professors end up giving social media a mixed score card. They sum up by saying new technology enables new forms of self-expression, but at the same time is more isolating. “…Yoking one’s identity too closely to…these technologies — and lacking the time, opportunity or inclination to explore life offline — may result in an impoverished sense of self.”
Another new book mentioned by Gardner and Davies is The Filter Bubble by Elie Pariser. This reveals how the likes of Facebook and Google are cocooning us. Because they know so much about each of us — about 1500 facts per person, according to one study — they give us with their algorithms what they think we want to see. If you google one thing and your friend googles the same you are likely to get quite different results.
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