Effects of Facebook on Teenagers: Positive and Negative

Psychological Effects of Facebook on Teenagers and its Overuse

As if parents did not already have enough to worry about, now they need to worry about their children displaying negative psychological effects from overusing Facebook and other social networking sites.

New research revealed August 2011 by Dr. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, makes it official what some parents already suspected -- our kids are getting sort of screwed up when they spend too much time on Facebook.

On a more upbeat note, the study also showed a few unexpected benefits of social networking online.

Spending too much time on Facebook can have both negative psychological and educational effects on teens.
Spending too much time on Facebook can have both negative psychological and educational effects on teens.

Negative Psychological Effects

Thus far, Rosen has made a 25-year career out of studying the influences technology has on people. His latest research, which examines teens and Facebook, was conducted using 1,000 teen surveys and observation of 300 teens actively studying. It concluded that multiple negative psychological effects could result from spending too much time on Facebook and other social media sites.

Negative effects include:

  • Teens who use Facebook frequently may become narcissistic. If you are not already familiar with that term, describes narcissism as an, "inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity." Most likely these are not the character traits you desire for your child.
  • Teens who have a strong Facebook presence may display psychological disorders, such as anti-social behaviors, and mania & aggressive tendencies. An anti-social child often does not consider the effects their actions have on others. This can be quite dangerous, especially during the already-volatile teen years. Perhaps this should be termed the anti social media effect.
  • The Facebook effect is real, but teens who "overdose" on technology daily, and this includes video games, have higher absenteeism from school and are more likely to get stomach aches, have sleep issues, and feel more anxious and depressed.

Negative Impact on Education

Although this pretty much goes without saying, being connected to technology on an ongoing basis can seriously impact a teen's and young adult's education. The negative educational impacts of regularly checking Facebook during Rosen's 15-minute observation of kids during study time revealed the following:

  • Middle and high school students, as well as college students, who checked their Facebook once during the 15-minute study time had lower test grades. Perhaps this is similar to being a distracted driver.
  • Those students who checked their Facebook most often also had the lowest rates of reading retention. This probably is not too surprising, but now it is a proven fact, in case you need to tell your kids.

Positive Effects

One positive effect of Facebook on teenagers is that it is a place where teens practice empathy, having a real impact on their friends' moods.
One positive effect of Facebook on teenagers is that it is a place where teens practice empathy, having a real impact on their friends' moods.

On a happier note, there were a few benefits to Facebook use, including:

  • Development of a "virtual" empathy which actually affected friends' moods positively, and caused teens to be more empathetic in their everyday lives, as well. It seems that encouraging comments online can put a smile on someone's face and improve moods.
  • Facebook and other social networking sites give shy children a way to socialize which might otherwise be lacking altogether. Hopefully, this virtual training ground can extend into actual face-to-face interactions.
  • Use of Facebook may impact self-esteem in a positive way and allow children to develop their self-identity. Choosing a profile photo, listing likes & dislikes, favorites of this-and-that, quotations, and the like, all "force" your child to become more self-aware.

What Can a Parent Do?

  • Do not use monitoring software at all. Rosen explains that your kids will immediately find a work-around and it can undermine the parent-child relationship.
  • Talk to your kids about acceptable technology use and build a trusting relationship. Rosen rightly believes that communication is central to good parenting and that the communication ratio should be 1 part parent talking to 5 parts parent listening.
  • With your child by your side, create a technology contract. Be sure to include things like allotted tech breaks while studying. The contract may also include removing all technology devices from the bedroom at night.

Concluding Thoughts

Dr. Rosen's insights into the psychological and educational effects of Facebook, other technologies, and media on children is invaluable. Perhaps attentive parents have already noticed these impacts and have taken action.

But, for those that have not, it is time to wake up to the consequences that social media & technological devices and their overuse can have on our children and combat it.

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Comments 45 comments

DjBryle profile image

DjBryle 5 years ago from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =)

I have bookmarked this hub for future use. My son is only 4 years old, and hopefully he won't spend so much time on Facebook when he is old enough to use such account... lol!

Thanks for sharing this very useful hub! Voted up and shared it too!

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thank you DjBryle. Being a proactive parent is your best defense against overuse of social media such as Facebook. Being aware of the pitfalls and effects of Facebook and other social media when used in excess by teens is the first step in protecting your son. Best wishes and thanks for your comment.

truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

Great information. These days teens are facing different situations due to social media. There is a lot of bullying on Facebook, so it is good to be aware of what is going on with your teens. I think this article will help a lot of people.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks for your input thruthfornow. I do think teens do face so many more pressures these days, especially because they can peak into each other's lives through social media like Facebook so easily. Of course this creates opportunities for bullying, rumor-spreading, and so much more. But I was glad to see that the effects of Facebook on teens who use it excessively were not all negative. If this helps teens learn to give and receive empathy then that's a good thing. Thanks again.

blairtracy profile image

blairtracy 5 years ago from Canada

Very interesting. Thank-you for sharing.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

You're welcome blairtracy. I am glad it was of interest to you - when I first saw the research on Facebook and teens it certainly caught my attention.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada

Ktrapp, very interesting and useful article. This is a topic I have wondered about, and you have provided some of the answers for me. The technology is making this a VERY different generation. We really cannot stop it but like you say, have to learn to manage it. I love your tips for maintaining the communication with the teens. Excellent hub and I am going to share it with others. Take care!

Injured lamb profile image

Injured lamb 5 years ago

Agree what you have pointed out both the negative and positive side effects. I am glad that two of my boys still can manage it well. Voted you up and useful. Have a nice day.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Prairieprincess - I am glad you found this article interesting and useful enough to share with others. It really is important to be both be aware of all these technologies, Facebook, cell phones, ipods, etc,as well as to help children manage them. This certainly is a different generation. I suspect that as a teacher this is pretty obvious to you - especially with cell phone issues at schools. Thank you for your comments and for sharing this with others.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Injured lamb - I am glad you don't have issues with your sons and Facebook. Many kids do manage social media fine and do not suffer the negative effects of Facebook if they over use it. Really excess of anything has negative impacts if you think about it, so as parents from the beginning we probably should help our children manage their time and set time limits - limits on video games, social media, television, cell phones, etc. "Everything in moderation" is probably a good way to live.

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 5 years ago from Midwest

Thank you for the very interesting and useful hub. I have a son that just turned 12 and all of his friends are on facebook - so we are kind of at that point. I am going to share this information with him as we work out what is acceptable for him.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

ChristinS - You're lucky that your son is just at this age now where you are already aware of all the social media tools and other tech gear like ipods, cell phones, and video games. When my kids were that age so much of this was all just really getting started, so as parents we were sort of behind the ball, whereas you can be ahead of it. The main issue I have found with things like Facebook, cell phones, video game systems like xbox 360, ipod touches, etc. is that your child can be in constant contact with friends and "friends" 24 hours a day if there are no limits. So, with everything parents should make sure there are time limits (which is easier to do at age 12) and keep all the stuff out of the bedroom at night. You should read my 2 hubs on cell phones and kids if you haven't already :) Thanks for commenting.

maxravi profile image

maxravi 5 years ago from India

Well as a parent , the biggest issue is teens won't play outdoor games much and busy with their laptop.I thinks it makes them less social abd lazy.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

I absolutely agree maxravi. That is why I think when kids first use these technologies, there should be time limits put in place so they don't learn bad habits early. Thanks for your comment.

jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom

My eldest daughter is constantly on facebook. She is almost 17 years old and treats it as some sort of diary system. When she is not on the computer, she is checking facebook by phone to organise her social life. Luckily she has me added as a friend so I can kinda "track?" what she is up to. She doesn't misuse it or anything, just the amount of time she spends on it. She is at college and her grades are above average, so I can't complain.

On the other hand, my partners son had a bad experience with Facebook. When he was at school he was bullied because he was very overweight. It didn't just stop at school, his bullies used FB as a way to get to him and verbally abuse him when he was at home. It made him so depressed, that we banned him from using it. We reported the abuse and spoke to his teachers who were very supportive. Thankfully this was all in his last year of high school and he is also at college where he has had no problems.

Very interesting and informative hub. Voted up

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Jacqui2011 - Thanks for your comments. It sounds like you've seen the good and bad with social media. It's a great tool in the right hands, but as your partner's son discovered, it can also be a high-tech way of bullying. I know a lot of schools have policies regarding this even if it occurs in off-school hours. How they enforce it, I have no idea. Sounds like both the kids in your life have good heads on their shoulders. Best wishes.

allmytricks profile image

allmytricks 5 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

By the way, that was a superb post. :) Really liked it. You pointed out the exact effects so slick. I was an Internet addict too (Not facebook or any social networks, but to SEO :p). That's why my CGPA significantly fallen down. So, I am trying hard to recover it now. Thanks for writing a much needed hub.

Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

An excellent hub that shows both the positive and negative of a social networking site. I think that if, like everything else, social networking is done in a balanced way then most teens will probably get a benefit from it.

But I think as well one of my concerns for, not just youngsters, but anyone spending too much time on a computer is the repetitive strain injuries that are occuring from over use of keyboards, mouse etc. Even kids that are quite young are displaying these injuries. They can be very painful and very disabling.

Will keep this hub as a favourite to show my younger sister as two of her kids are at the 'facebook' age. Personally I don't what the attraction is with Facebook -I've been on it for 2 years or so and still can't find my way around it!!

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

allmytricks - Thank you for your comments. Overuse of any social media or technology definitely can have a negative effect on your gpa. Thank you so much for making that point, as well.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Seeker7 - My wrists can attest to that fact that repetitive strain injuries can occur from spending too much time on the computer. I think many of us use the computer for hours each day for work-related reasons and then more for personal use. But I never thought about these injuries affecting young children.

I think balance, as you mentioned, is the key to avoiding many problems. When parents are aware and informed then they can try to control the situation more. Thanks for all your comments.

funmontrealgirl profile image

funmontrealgirl 5 years ago from Montreal

I truly agree with this. I think too much technology is certainly a bad thing and is while more information may be available, with video games and social media, I don't see it improving the intelligence of our youth, but creating a lazier and less active generation.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Funmontrealgirl - I'm sorry for the delay in replying to your thoughtful comment, but I was a bit overwhelmed getting my son off to college.

I do agree that a lot of this technology is creating a less active generation. Between television and its infinite number of channels; computers with games, internet, and social media; video games - whether hooked up to a tv or handheld; ipods - often with music, movies, internet, and games; and cellphones; kids are constantly "plugged in." That's why I think it is critical for parents to monitor all of its overuse. Thanks for your comment.

Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

A well balanced and stimulating hub.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thank you Alladream74. I hoped to present a balanced article on the effects of facebook on teenagers, so thank you for noticing.

docbruin profile image

docbruin 5 years ago from USA

This is a fascinating hub, ktrapp! I had always wondered what effect all the computer time, social networking, texting, etc. was having on today's children. I had always thought there might be an impact on their social coping skills. Oh, how things have changed since I was a kid! Thanks for your hub!

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks for commenting docbruin. Of course there are video games too, and all of this technology is just a big distraction if there are not reasonable limits put into place. "All things in moderation" would be a good rule of thumb for parents to follow, and limits should be put into place everytime a new piece of technology is given to a kid.

I also think some of the social networking sites may make some kids feel left out when they're looking at their "friends'" facebook pages and see photos of things they were left out of. It's tough being a parent with all this technology to try to monitor, but I think it is tough being a kid too.

docbruin profile image

docbruin 5 years ago from USA

You bring up an interesting point about feeling left out of things. I know of adults getting upset over their friend's Facebook pages. I can imagine how kids might feel. I am sure there is also a Facebook "pecking order" or social hierarchy as well, based on how many "friends" you have, how good your content is, etc. I am glad I am not a kid today.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Depending on a kid's self esteem, which is usually fragile under the best of circumstances, it can be terrible. Bullying occurs, people make up fake stuff to cause problems, there are jealousies, girls seeing how pretty other girls look in all their self-made photos, etc. It really is terrible for younger teens, and maybe even more so for girls. Not only am I glad I'm not a kid today, I'm glad that mine mostly use these technologies sparingly. Thanks for your additional comments.

Megan Coxe profile image

Megan Coxe 5 years ago from somewhere between here and there

This is definitely an interesting and important point to highlight, but being of the initial facebook generation, I'm wary of saying that it is negative for teens. It, like any other social-oriented technology can prevent people (teenagers especially) from branching out and interacting in the "real world". But I believe many of the negative effects mentioned by the study happen regardless of having the intermediary of facebook or not. Being a teenage is hard, and almost everyone struggles socially during that age. No, it doesn't help children with anti-social tendencies, or who have problems focusing, but I hate to blame it on whichever social interface is popular at the moment. Technology has changed the way we communicate, for better or worse, and Facebook, like anything else, should be used in moderation. That doesn't mean we should be scared that teenagers primarily use facebook to communicate nowadays.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Those are all really good points Megan. I really appreciate your point of view from someone who is part of the initial facebook generation, as you put it. You are right, many of those negative effects would occur otherwise, but I guess overdosing on these forms of social media can make it worse for some, according to the study anyway.

The only thing I have noticed in my children is the ability to be easily distracted by it while doing homework. The laptops and iphones make it so easy to take a quick peek at facebook or even texts. And these repetitive, little interruptions probably do in fact cause lower reading retention rates as the research study points out, even for kids that don't otherwise have focus issues.

And you are so right, that this is how people now communicate. It's just that sometimes it all needs to be set aside and turned off temporarily so other tasks, such as studying for an exam, can be accomplished well.

I am so glad you took the time to respond. Thank you.

DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 5 years ago

It is a whole different world out there.Always changing and so much to learn.You gave great insight and how to avoid some of the bad that comes with technology.Good tips for parents to learn to be aware of new issues and problems.Great job.

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

You're right Dream On. The world really has changed and I think it is a parent's responsibility to understand the technology that is so much a part of children's lives. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Aceblogs profile image

Aceblogs 5 years ago from India

haha , i can very well correlate this hub with my younger sister. Too much time is being spent on facebook by her which has made her bit secluded fro rest of the world and even family also not much time is given to studies as well. Nice share friend !

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Aceblogs - Well your sister is not the only one spending too much time on Facebook and less time studying and with family. Hopefully, your parents catch on and put some limits in place. Thanks for commenting.

Anna 4 years ago

I go on facebook waaay too much!

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Anna - You're definitely not alone!

george 4 years ago

there are a lot of postive an negitve reports on teens for face book i like it

ShaamCA profile image

ShaamCA 4 years ago from India

Among teenagers , facebook has created a great impact ..must say many have become an addict towards facebook ...they spend most of the time in this only ,though it is useful but there are lot of negatives in it ...this hub has clearly explained it

Joy 4 years ago

can you give me the link in what part of Dr Larry Rosen's reserch is that?

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Joy - Sure thing. Dr. Rosen's presented his research at an annual American Psychological Association. Here is a link that will give the details of the presentation: . Additionally, there is a link to a Time magazine article at the end of this article above which also discusses this research. I hope that helps.

stephanie 4 years ago

i think this website is very useful.

callum 4 years ago

i think this is not true as i have facebook and i am not stuck to it as much as you say we are but i also have to be on her side as well as some people have to be for all day longg !!!!

Star5534123 profile image

Star5534123 3 years ago

Ok, well here is what I have to say about this. I'm a teenager myself and I agree with most, if not all the things that you have said. The one thing I have to say is that I think it has to do with the child, because you can function the same, and be the same person if you have a Facebook. BUT it also depends on the parent... how much you let your child go on Facebook and its annoying but parents every now and then should check up on their child's Facebook. Because you can get into a lot of trouble with it. This is my opinion but I don't think that you should ever put your address, or your phone number, or your location, I never do any of that because people can find out all about you in one second. So it mostly depends on the teen whether they make the smart choices or not.

Aline Harry 2 years ago

Good afternoon

First I’d like to thank you for offering me the opportunity to share my comment related to the topic. As “Facebook” became an important part of our daily life and it is affecting our life deeply. It has negative aspect on its user’s life. Researchers found that the more the participants use the site the less they accept their real life.


Aline Harry

Ajith 2 years ago

thankyou you have pointed out the negative and positive sides of it beautifully

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