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'Finding yourself' on Facebook
Date:9/26/2011

American teenagers are spending an ever-increasing amount of time online, much to the chagrin of parents who can't seem to tear their children away from Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. But despite the dangers that lurk on the web, the time that teens spend on the Internet can actually be beneficial to their healthy development, says a Tel Aviv University researcher.

Prof. Moshe Israelashvili of TAU's Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education, with his M.A. student Taejin Kim and colleague Dr. Gabriel Bukobza, studied 278 teens, male and female, from schools throughout Israel. They found that many teens were using the Internet as a tool for exploring questions of personal identity, successfully building their own future lives using what they discover on the Web.

Prof. Israelashvili's research, which was published in the Journal of Adolescence, encourages parents and educators to look at engagement with the online world as beneficial for teens. Social networking, he says, is a positive example of Internet use: "Facebook use is not in the same category as gambling or gaming." As a result, Prof. Israelashvili says, researchers should redefine the characteristics of the disorder called "Internet addiction" in adolescents.

Redefining internet addiction

The TAU researchers asked the teens to rate themselves in terms of Internet use, ego clarification, and self-understanding, and how well they related to their peer group. The researchers discovered that there was a negative correlation between Internet overuse and the teens' levels of ego development and clarity of self-perception. Prof. Israelashvili refers to it as an indication that some Internet use is destructive and isolating while some is informative and serves a socializing function.

These results show that the current understanding of adolescent Internet addiction demands redefinition. Psychiatrists now classify an "Internet addict" as a person
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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