Thu Dec 08 16:20:30 SAST 2016

Social networking leeching humanity out of our children

The Times Editorial | 2012-05-14 00:20:39.0

The Times Editorial: The new world of social networks is here and is beginning to redefine our human relations in good and bad ways. Social networks have made communication less stressful, saved lives and helped remove bad elements in our communities. In some countries the new technology has helped bring about the fall of governments.

But the new world of social networks has a bad side.

More and more experts are raising danger signs and say it needs to be curtailed.

Manoj Maharaj, University of KwaZulu-Natal associate professor of information systems, has told us that too many children have more virtual buddies than real friends - thanks to Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerry Messenger and WhatsApp.

He said children connected to these networks are slowly losing their social skills.

"They become withdrawn into living on this [virtual] island [to the extent] that they don't even know their own neighbourhood.

"They don't play outside or even go out long enough to be away from their virtual friends."

He says the introverted child becomes even more withdrawn.

"The long-term effects are very concerning."

With the virtual world taking over from parents and other family members in raising children and instilling in them good values with which to cope in life, the challenge remains of how we balance the two worlds: the real and the virtual.

Many adults, who are supposed to guide the young and teach them the value of human contact, seem to have joined their kids in escaping the real world. It is no longer surprising to see couples seated in the same room lost in space while chatting to their on-line friends.

In some instances, on-line friends get to know of personal decisions before real friends.

The on-line world has redefined our everyday life but we cannot throw away what defines us as human.

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