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Are social networking sites damaging to young teens?

Ian Brimacombe Ian Brimacombe | 18:00 UK time, Friday, 30 April 2010

_42113828_facebook-new.jpgHi, Ian here from the World Update programme.

Social networking is something pretty much all young teenagers do. But is it damaging to them? One school principal in the US state of New Jersey thinks so.

Tony Orsini is asking parents to ban Facebook, Myspace, Formspring and other sites. Mr Orsini sent out an email to parents that said,

"There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today! "

The entire email can be found here:

In an interview with ABC, Mr Orsini said the sites encourage behaviour that is harmful to middle school students, who are between 10 and 14 years old.

"It has become meaner and meaner and they don't understand the impact," he said, "they aren't socially and emotionally ready to understand."

He went on to tell the Associated Press,

"If one or two kids says something online about what you look like, or makes fun of the way that you dress....for an eleven or twelve year old...that's devastating."

Not everyone things the ban is a good idea.

The Techdirt website says:

"We see this sort of overreaction to new things all of the time. In the past, school administrators have needlessly freaked out about such things as comic books, dungeons and dragons, walkmen and mp3 players. If the principal, Anthony Orsini, had just sent out a note saying "talk to your kids and pay attention to what they're doing online," it would have been fine.

And, the New York based Gothamist site says, 

"The fastest way to revolution is to take back a privilege that has already been entrenched in the culture."

So, what do you think? Should young students be banned from using Facebook and other social networking sites? We'll be hearing from Mr Orsini and one of his critics on Monday on World Update.

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