Teens react to online warnings

By Dan Whitworth
Newsbeat technology reporter

Image source, bbc
Image caption,
Ash says social networking is a brilliant way to keep in contact

A group of teenagers have reacted to warnings that using sites like Facebook, Bebo and Myspace can leave them traumatised.

The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, says the sites encourage users to value the number rather than quality of friends they have.

He’s worried this makes people get too many temporary friends instead of real, genuine ones.

He said: “It’s an all or nothing syndrome that you have to have in an attempt to shore up identity.

"Friendship is not a commodity, friendship is something that is hard work and enduring when it’s right.”

'Friendly nation'

But speaking to Newsbeat a group of teenagers mainly rejected what the spiritual leader of the four million Catholics in England and Wales had to say.

Ash is 19 and from London. He said: "These sites are just a different way of socialising and I think the nation’s the friendliest it’s ever been because of that.

Cyber-bullying 'always around'

"We’re always meeting people on the street we know from Facebook and it’s just a brilliant way of keeping in contact.”

Katie’s 16 and lives in Suffolk. She said. “I think it’s a load of rubbish because bullying has always been around.

"Cyber bullying could be more of a factor but I think it’s rubbish.”

Image source, bbc
Image caption,
Jasmine says she had some problems online

Her friend Alice thinks the same way.

“I don’t agree with what he had to say because most of the people on my Facebook are my friends," she said.

"And if it’s going to happen on Facebook it’s going to happen over text or email or anything.”

But 19-year-old Jasmine says even though she doesn’t agree with the Archbishop she can understand where he’s coming from.

“I’ve experienced negative feedback on Facebook," she said.

"My friends stopped adding me, they started organising secret parties and I felt quite hurt by it because they were supposed to be my friends from secondary school.

"It just depends on the person because I was strong enough to deal with it”.

Charity The Samaritans says social networking websites can offer places for teenagers to talk about their emotions if they’re down or feeling depressed.

It also said it works with search engines and social networking sites to make sure that anyone who is feeling distressed has easy access to their details so can get in touch with one of their trained volunteers.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.