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What Facebook Does to Kids

Researchers are probing the impact of social networks on kids. Early findings suggest FB use is associated with narcissistic behavior but can increase ‘viral’ empathy.

What’s the Latest Development?

Preliminary findings from research projects on the effect of social networks on kids is generating a lot of buzz. Some early evidence suggests that Facebook use may correlate with narcissistic behavior, alcohol dependence, and other psychiatric disorders. But researcher Larry Rosen, author of several books on the psychology of technology, has also found evidence that it may be associated with increases in virtual empathy–the ability to consider someone else’s emotional state from a distance.

What’s the Big Idea?

Rosen cautions that his work thus far has only shown a connection between certain kinds of behavior and Facebook use, not causation. Whether Facebook encourages narcissistic tendencies in its users, for example, or happens to attract narcissistic users in the first place, is not clear yet. He also says that while kids may be more tech-savvy than their parents, they lack their experience and self-control and are under greater social pressure to engage with the next big thing.


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