Teens nowadays face a world so much smaller than what generations before them have experienced. Today, you can make a friend from halfway around the world, without even leaving your bedroom.

The culprit: teen social networking.

“How does teen social networking work, and what forms does it take?” is the question many adults nowadays ask themselves. This is due to the belief that if they know their children’s friends, then they might get an insight of what kind of persons their offspring are.

Well, in order to understand teen social networking, you need to understand that teenagers aren’t all the same. Adolescence is the stage when a person first gets an idea about social interaction; it is that stage when they discover what kind of person they are and who they will eventually become.

Teen social networking revolves around these two contradicting but very much true facts: every teen is different, some teens are the same.

This paradox, this contradiction is at the heart of teen social networking. The fact that every teen is different makes teens want to meet other people and to see if they can find someone to relate with.

The fact that some teens are the same, at least in some aspects, encourages teens to bond and form their own little core groups. This can now expand to become a network.

Teen social networking works on the premise that we are all connected. You know him and he knows her and she knows someone else… etc.

The fact that everyone is connected can fascinate people, especially teenagers. The world has certainly gotten small enough that, if you talk to the right people, you can get in touch with anyone in the world.

There is a theory that a person is connected to every other person in the world through no less than six degrees of separation. However, the emergence of technology is rapidly cutting down this “theory”. No one would actually be surprised nowadays if he or she found out that they are connected to everyone within one degree.

What forms does teen social networking take? Well, there are, of course, the usual manifestations of little cliques or groups in school. These core groups often form a teen’s first real network. Through the years, this network often expands, ever growing stronger with each additional member.

There are also the different clubs that a teen joins. These clubs are a type of teen social networking in the sense that they let teenagers meet people with the same interests as theirs.

Lately, of course, we have seen the emergence of chat rooms and the ever-popular Friendster and MySpace. These incorporate the use of the technology of internet into interacting socially with other people.

This makes teen social networking especially interesting since they have the opportunity to meet people whose locations are very far from them. This introduces teenagers to whole new worlds where the rules and norms they are used to do not apply.

This then leads them to the belief that what they do does affect other people and that, no matter how different, people should be respected, in order for them to respect you.

As with other good things, however, too much social networking can be bad. And, as always, moderation is the key to a successful social network.

Joshua Shoemaker


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