"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," said Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D., professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and technology researcher.
Rosen says ongoing research and preliminary results of studies suggest a few trends in kids.
On the plus side: In a world full of distractions, social networking and technology can provide tools for teaching in a way that engages and captivates young minds. Online social networking can also help young people learn how to socialize with their peers; users also show more "virtual empathy."
"It's almost like social networks are training wheels for life in a lot of ways - it teaches you to express empathy and see how people respond," Rosen said. "It teaches you to also just develop your sense of self of who you are. You float things out on a wall post on Facebook and then sit back and look at the comments that you get. It's a place where you can grow and develop."
However, the downside is becoming apparent, too. According to studies, middle school, high school and college students looking at Facebook at least one time during a 15-minute study break made lower grades. In addition, many young Facebook users show more tendencies to be narcissistic.