What Facebook Does to Kids' Brains

The social network is both good and evil

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People love to sensationalize the deleterious effects of new-fangled tech on the impressionable brains of children. Psychologist Larry D. Rosen's presentation to the American Psychological Association is a little more nuanced than "Facebook Rots Kids' Brains," but it still has plenty to be concerned about. (His title: "“Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids.")

Facebook is only seven years old and has only been open to non-college students for five years (kids under 13 are not officially allowed to join), so researchers have not had much time to study the emotional, physical, and psychological effects it could have on kids. But science has proven at least one thing: Facebook does something to some people's brains, probably.

The good

  • Kids who spend more time on Facebook learn to show "virtual empathy" to their friends online, Rosen found. 
  • For less social kids, Facebooking can help these teens learn to socialize, explains Rosen.
  • When making friends on the social network, kids are more likely to overlook race and make friends based on interest, a UCLA study found
  • Facebook can improve the self-esteem of college students, according to a Cornell study.
  • Silly status updates can help breed desirable traits like entrepreneurship, a report from the National IT Center claimed
  • Facebook raises kids' self-esteem.

The bad

In other words, it's kind of like middle school.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.