The findings of the research were presented by Larry D. Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University, at the 19th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. In a talk entitled ‘Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids’, Rosen explained the potential psychological risks for teens who spend too long on social networking services.
"While nobody can deny that Facebook has altered the landscape of social interaction, particularly among young people, we are just now starting to see solid psychological research demonstrating both the positives and the negatives,” he said.
Rosen said the negative effects of teenagers overusing social media include making them more prone to vain, aggressive and anti social behaviour.
Scientists have found pre-teens and teens who overuse social sites and technology on a daily basis are also more likely to be prone to bouts of anxiety, depression and other psychological disorders.
Excessive use of sites like Facebook can also lead to poorer academic performance. Teenagers who checked social networks at least once during a 15 minute study period, achieved lower grades, scientists found.
However, Rosen’s study also found that social networking had some positive effects . Sites like Facebook can help shy young adults socialise and come out of their shell. And the services can be used effectively for interactive learning and helping teenagers empathise with each other.
Science Daily, an online science journal, said that Rosen encouraged parents to assess their children’s activities on social networks and discuss with them any decisions to remove inappropriate content – rather than going behind their back.