By Ahmed Assarrar
By Ahmed Assarrar
Morocco World News
Meknes, February 10, 2012
For most Moroccan adolescents, if not all, to have a Facebook account becomes an absolute necessity. Some use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, and for others, Facebook itself acts as a friend. Studies have shown that most parents consider the Internet in general, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter in particular, to have harmful effects on the health and personality of their adolescents.
Parents see the hours spent on Facebook chatting with close friends and strangers as a waste of time, and also as a potential for exposure to unfiltered harmful content. They believe excessive use of social networks detaches adolescents from the physical world, and so from their responsibilities in the real world. It makes children less likely to play sports, affecting their health and impairing their performance in school. Another concern for parents is that Facebook allows adolescents to diversify their social networks beyond their school and neighborhood in a way that parents can’t control.
Facebook is said to be the third largest country in the world, after China and India. The Socialbakers website (www.socialbakers.com) shows that currently in Morocco, there are more than four million Facebook users, 56% of which are between 16 and 24 years old. In the movie “The Social Network” about the invention of Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg describes his objective as, “taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online.” Facebook aims at overcoming obstacles that makes it difficult for adolescents to make new friends.
The majority of adolescents use social networks to keep in touch with close friends. These friends are emotional confidants; they offer advice and guidance, and serve as models for behavior and attitudes. In this way, social networks enlarge the adolescents’ world of peer interactions and opens new communication paths with people outside their immediate community, and across barriers of distance, ethnicity, age, and gender.
Many sociologists and psychologists show that adolescents who lack attachment to peers are more likely to report psychological distress and to harbor thoughts of suicide. They argue that adolescents who report low self-esteem and who lack closeness in face-to-face friendship will gravitate towards online relationships. The relative anonymity of digital life gives individuals a chance to express often-unexplored aspects of the self and the creation of a virtual persona. In this respect, one can logically deduce that adolescents’ extreme use of social networks is the result of a lack of parental care and a result of loneliness (as the movie «The Social Networks» clearly highlights). What parents see as excessive use of social networks is for adolescents a more complicated urge to satisfy psychological needs.
On the campus where I live, a friend told me: «I am far from my city and therefore far from my family and most of my best friends, but thanks to Facebook I am always with them». He added: «Facebook provides me with friends while I am alone and in real need. Facebook gives me the time and space to express my inner feelings. Facebook is my loyal friend».
Editing by Jasmine Davey
Gustavo S.Mesch, and IIan Talmud. Wired Youth: The Social World of Adolescence in the Information Age. New York, Routledge, 2010
Ahmed Assarrar is a student of the master program « Communication in Contexts », university of Moulay Ismail in Meknes, Morocco.
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