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    McMullan 1

    Becca McMullan

    Malcolm Campbell

    English 1102

    10 April 2012

    Call Me, Beep Me, If You Want to Reach Me

    Generally speaking, electronic communicationtexting, instant messaging and

    social mediais what teenagers are familiar with and use at their own convenience. Some peo-

    ple believe it has improved societys way of interacting with others, while others believe it is detri-

    mental when it compares to real-life social interaction.I have personally lost friends,

    gained friends, got into viral fights with my parents and updated them of my

    whereabouts. Even I felt jealous at times when I would see a girl comment on

    my boyfriends picture. How does electronic communication affect the well-being of

    teenagers parent-child relationships, romantic relationships and peer relationships?

    Parent-Child Relationships (insert How Parent-Child Relationships Are Affected

    By Electronic Communication)

    Myparents use texting ortext messaging to discuss family events like dinner or plans.

    Family members can stay in touch with each other through electronic communication (Coyne et al.

    160-161). Parents use this form of communication to discuss mealtimes and other family events

    (Subrahmanyam and Greenfield 135-136). My parents and I use text messaging to plan when we

    are going to eat dinner or discuss what we are going to have for dinner. This is convenient for both

    parties in such a case. For example, I may have already had something to eat, so I could text

    my mom and let her know so she would not have to worry about waiting until I got home

    to tell her.

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    Some parents are concerned with their teens using electronic communication. One of the

    main reasons is that parents believe their teens that stay in touch too often with friends and lack

    family communication. Kaveri Subrahmanyamand Patricia Greenfield, authors of

    Online Communication And Adolescent Relationships, have done research on how

    electronic communication affects teenagers. The authors stated a working spouse

    may walk in the door and the children might say hey, if anything at all and continue using their

    electronic gadgets (135). This makes it more difficult for parents and children to have face-to-face

    conversations with the distractions of electronic communication. This could be taking away from

    family bonding time.

    Social networking websites allow for teens to express themselves. Will Lyman, narra-

    tor of Growing Up Online documentary from Frontline, discusses how a

    teenager, Jessica Hunter, used Myspace as a way to express herself as her alter ego goth model,

    Autumn Edows. Her parents were unaware of her other identity. Her father claimed he never saw

    her and she would not eat dinner with them. If her parents were to walk into her room, she would

    simply change the screen. She felt insecure about herself when she was younger, so she used Mys-

    pace as a way for her to build up her confidence. Even though her parents were against it at first,

    eventually they saw how Autumn Edows brought out the best in Jessica and their relationship

    withthrough her with their acceptance (LymanGrowing Up Online).

    Parents may be unaware of what their children are doing offlineonline (Subrahmanyham

    and Geenfield 124). In the documentary, Growing Up Online, the narrator men-

    tions how Evan Skinner, a mother of four teenagers, keeps the family computer in the kitchen to

    keep an eye on them. She admits her kids are edgy and they will change the screen whenever

    they are on Facebook (LymanGrowing Up Online). Her son, Cam, went to a rock concert,

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    drinking and partying with friends and other people from his school. The video was posted online

    and his mother found out through an email from another parent. Once Skinner took the issue into

    her own hands by emailing all the parents, it had a negative toll on her relationship with her son

    and the rest of the family. Cam would avoid talking about his day at school or sharing any other in-

    formation with his parents (LymanGrowing Up Online).

    My parents and I have had a few text fights. Some of them involved me lashing

    out at my mom for telling me I cannot go out with friends or her getting angry

    as to why I chose not to come home from school one weekend. Whenever we were

    angry or would lash out into an argument, it would in some cases continue through several text

    messages. Now that was an awkward moment when I would walk into the house after sending

    those text messages. Although, we have been able to keep in touch more through texting. It would

    come in handy whenever I had to let my parents know where I was, iffor example I waslike if I

    were staying after school or going out somewhere.

    Romantic Relationships (insert How Romantic Relationships Are Affected By

    Electronic Communication)

    Personally, I found it easier to talk to other guys through text messages. I could have time

    to think of what to say through a text message rather than not say a word in person. Kaveri Sub-

    rahmanyamand Patricia Greenfield add that teens find instant messaging easier to use

    when talking to someone of the opposite sex (125). Teens feel more confident when using this

    virtual form of communication as a way for hooking up compared to real-life conversations (129).

    This leaves out the physical challenges of meeting someone new and focuses more on playful ban-

    ter with text messages.

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    Sarah Coyne, along with other authors have done several studies relat-

    ing to teenage romantic relationships and how couples can use texting as a way of

    communicating more throughout the day when they are apart (Coyne et al. 152). Couples that go to

    separate colleges for instance, can text each other to keep in touch rather than never hear from

    them at all. My boyfriend and I text each other when we are away from each other. This allows us

    to remain in contact in a much faster, simpler way rather than just waiting to hopefully bump into

    each other throughout the day.

    Although there can be misunderstandings in text messages (Coyne et al. 152). Personal-

    ly, I have had instances when I may be upset about something and try to hide it from my boyfriend

    by texting a short its alright or Im fine with a few smiley faces here and there. Without me

    expressing myself physically as I normally would in person, he may not notice something is


    Sarah Coyne and other authors she had done studies with address that

    couples that just started dating may overkill how much time they spend using media rather than

    talking things out person (Coyne et al. 152). Individuals in a relationship would . . .express affec-

    tion towards their partner. . . and confront them more using the media (160). For instance, an indi-

    vidual that previously got into an argument with their partner may text him or her to release their

    emotions about the previous argument (160). My boyfriend and I text each other more

    often than the time we spend seeing each other. This may make it harder for

    us to confront each other about issues since we do not see each other as often

    as we would like, so it may have to be resolved through text messages.

    Social networking websites like Facebook can enhance jealousy in couples. For instance, a

    girlfriend may see a picture of her boyfriend with another girl that posts heart symbols and I love

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    you on the picture. The girlfriend may take that as the friend flirting with her boyfriend and be-

    come envious of their friendship publicly displayed online.Tom Meltzer, a man in his early

    twenties and writer for The Guardian adds that there can be miscommunication online,

    but exchanging short responses on a Facebook chat in place of a quality conversation in person can

    make the relationship more distant.

    Break ups are terrible, but it only gets worse once your relationship status changes from in

    a relationship to single like mine did on Facebook. Once that happened, within several hours, I

    got texts and Facebook messages from people asking me what happened. As if it was not enough

    hearing people talk about it, I would see Facebook status he made that were directed towards me

    and people would like or comment on them. It was atrocious and not an event I want to experi-

    ence again.This affected how I would maintain friendships with people we were

    both friends with. I felt awkward being around some of the same people he

    was friends with.

    Peer Relationships (insert How Peer Relationships Are Affected By Electronic


    Peer relationships online are similar to clichs or social groups in school when it comes

    to fitting in. Tom Meltzer discusses how Facebook has affected him. This social networking site

    is not mandatory to join, nonetheless Meltzer felt compelled to do sojoin Facebook, as he

    thought of it as social suicide if he opted not to (Meltzer). Several years ago he claims . . .on

    probably the loneliest week of my life, my newly created Facebook page looked me square in the

    eye and announced You have 0 friends (Meltzer). He views Facebook as an enhancement of old

    clichs. I understand where he is coming from. I see the same popular girls I would see in school

    posting thousands of pictures of themselves and updating their status on Facebook. Not only

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    would I see them in school, but I would see them on Facebook too, like there was no way to avoid


    Mannerisms exchanged in person seem to diminish over time online. Hilary Stout men-

    tions how a mother, Laura Shumaker, remembers her son writing happy birthday on his

    friends Facebook wall, rather than wishing his friend a happy birthday in person. Personally,

    when I was younger, I remember when my friends would call me or come to my house just to

    wish me a happy birthday. Now, Facebook reminds them when it is. Sometimes all I get is an ab-

    breviated form like happy bday or hbd. Not only are people dependent on Facebook to remind

    them about such important events like birthdays, even their short, abbreviated responses seem rude

    and impersonal.

    There have been instances where I have gotten into fights through text messages. I have

    lost close friends over text messaging each other. Whenever something would go wrong, I would

    send long text messages, possibly five or more and vice versa. There were messages full of words

    with complete anger and frustration, words that hurt enough to make me feel isolated and miser-

    able. I would cringe when my phone would vibrate.

    Online communication can allow forshy kids to come out of their shell and socially inter-

    act with others. Hilary Stout adds that Robert Wilson claims his son, Andy, was teased jokingly by

    his friends on Facebook. Wilson suggested his other son, Evan, who is more introverted, create a

    Facebook account. He believes his son is now developing social skills he did not have. He noted

    Evan was talking to a girl from his former school (Stout).

    I have been able to keep in touch with my friends through text messaging and Facebook.

    An old friend of mine I met several years ago sent me an email several months ago and added me

    on Facebook. We talk to each other every now and then. She mentioned that I could come visit her

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    whenever I would visit Myrtle Beach. Another friend of mine that lives in Pennsylvania and I keep

    in touch through text messaging. She may come visit me this summer.

    Tom Meltzer does admit there are some advantages to social networking sites like Face-

    book. New topics are spread fast and efficiently, like his example of Michael Jacksons death.

    Facebook also makes it easier to remember friends birthdays (Meltzer). Skype allows people to

    keep in touch with each other through a video chat where each person can be seen while having a

    conversation at the same time. Electronic communication provides people over long distances the

    ability to stay in contact with each other, stay up to date with friends and family, and be aware of

    news topics.

    Conclusion (insert - My Final Thoughts)

    This topic allows for me to explore how electronic communication has affected teenagers

    in my generation.What ever happened to the old days? I remember hanging out with my

    friends in my neighborhood every day after school. Now, all we do is text or Facebook each other.

    This is convenient, but is it always necessary or beneficial? It is easy and fast whenever I am in a

    rush. However, the more I think about it, sometimes I do not feel as close as I normally did with

    people I did interact(interacted) with in person. Text messages are easily misread and the

    amount of privacy I used to have seems to have blown straight out the window. People can

    simply look over your shoulder and read what you are texting or typing on a

    Facebook message. Facebook relationships and interests are displayed and people use that as

    a way to know more about you as a person. What ever happened to simply asking someone, What

    are your hobbies? Facebook has that under control; there is no need for you to ask that in person.

    What about flirting with someone? There is no need for that in person, there is always texting and

    Facebook chat, so even when that girl says no to you asking her to prom, there is no need for that

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    kind of public let down at school. What about friends that moved and live far away? Facebook and

    text messaging has allowed forme to keep in touch with them rather than part our separate ways.

    Themore I thought about how electronic communication affected teen relationships; the

    more I realized the importance of face-to-face social interaction. Without verbal and social cues,

    there will more likely be misunderstandings (Coyne et al. 152). As I look back now, I wish I would

    have talked things out with my friend. I feel like there is more to be said from both parties and we

    might have misread each other when we were texting each other. There were never any face-to-

    face conversations whenever we got angry, which might have been an a more effective way to

    communicate that way we could read body language to determine what to say next without being

    too offensive.

    Eventually, my former boyfriend and I talked things out face-to-face, which made the con-

    versation much easier. I could tell he felt uncomfortable by the way he would slouch or look in a

    direction opposite from me. Face-to-face social interaction helped us communicate without simply

    avoiding a question like you could through a text or Facebook message. Electronic communication

    does have its advantages, but sometimes it can be oppressive or discomforting.

    These forms of electronic communication have allowed me to stay in contact and remain

    close to friends and family. On the other hand, it has brought me apart from some of them. Rela-

    tionships teenagers have with their...