Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Facebook: Spawn of Satan?

There have been no shortage of articles and editorials decrying young people's fascination with the social networking site Facebook. The much-loved and much-maligned time-waster has attracted the attention of researchers in psychology and in education, as well as the casual columnist. Here's a smattering of recent news about Facebook (brace yourself...much of it is not pretty):

  • "What Facebook Users Share: Lower Grades" - TIME Magazine article comments on recently released research indicating that Facebook users have, on average, lower grades than their non-Facebook using counterparts. Yikes! However, kudos to author Anita Hamilton for including critical analysis of this research: correlation does not equal causation, so it's too early to claim that Facebook actually lowers your GPA. Perhaps easily distractable procrastinators (who were likely to get lower grades anyway)are just drawn to it?
  • "Facebook Profiles Out Narcissism" - Article outlines research supporting something many of us have suspected for some time: that Facebook is a playground for narcissists. How could a narcissist resist a site that allows you to manipulate how you're viewed by others, constantly broadcast your "status" to everyone you know, and post flattering (or not-so-flattering) profile pictures of yourself? The not-so-ground-breaking news? They're as easy to spot online as they are in real life.
  • "25 Things I Didn't Want to Know About You" - TIME editorial discusses the annoying online meme: the "25 Things About Me" post.

Hey, it can't be all bad! Here's a different take: "Facebook's Latest Role: College Guidance Counselor". Maybe when we're not playing Mafia Wars or voting on which friend is the most outgoing, we actually can get useful information from this site.

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