The FINANCIAL — According to Eka Ninoshvili, child psychologist at 24th public school, the number of incidents of school students insulting each other on social networks has drastically increased, sometimes requiring the inflicted (victims) to take long psycho-rehabilitation courses.
“It’s quite common for schoolmates to argue with each other, even using social networks like facebook/others to further aggravate the conflict. Recently there was one occasion at our school when two girls of the same age disagreed in the classroom. One of them, apparently considered the ‘leader’ in the class, was trying to get the other girl under her influence. (The main reason was the latter’s physical beauty and popularity).
The ‘leader’ put her down in front of her classmates but that was not the end of it. It continued online when she put derogatory comments on facebook and other social networks about her, as did the rest of the girls in the class as well as her friends. The discussion even continued on forums with a lot of contemptuous notes posted about her. All of them were of a mocking nature, which eventually made her psychologically distressed and depressed – requiring her to take a long rehabilitation course in order to finally get back to class.
Such incidents are quite common, and are most evident with 8-16 year olds at school,” Eka Ninoshvili, D.Uznadze Psychology Institute’01, told The FINANCIAL.
The world that today’s Georgian youth inhabit is diverging sharply from the one their parents grew up in. This new technology-prone generation lives with a different lifestyle, mindset, habits as well as a wide variety of ways to interact with each other.
According to a study published by Nielsen (2010), online social activity rose by 82%. On average, users spent more than five and a half hours on popular networks such as Facebook and Twitter in December 2009. In December 2008, users clocked just over three hours on social networking sites.
As The FINANCIAL found out, time overspent on social networks is common in Georgia, especially by youth.
“Facebook has turned my life upside down. Every day I spent more than 7-8 hours on it in the summer while now (since I’m at university) it’s been reduced to 4-5 hours a day. This Facebook mania, and other text messaging/chatting has affected my biological clock as I’ve acquired insomnia/associated eye problems and am sometimes even overwhelmed by the amount of data I have to process through the course of a day.
Although I’ve enlarged my network of friends online, I rarely interact with all of them personally (face to face). Which I think is a huge challenge despite the fact that I can easily network, meaning there’s no necessity to meet them in person every day.
I have a lot of friends who’ve got the same time management-related issues, as well as some of them who are already becoming antisocial, meaning spending the whole day sitting and chatting via computer, in effect living a virtual life,” said 20 year old student Tamuna Kuchuashvili.
“Antisocial behaviour is also the case with many children, as more and more children are getting wired to the web and playing video games,” said child psychologist Eka Ninoshvili to The FINANCIAL.
“As the computer is considered a “great toy” by children, they gradually become addicted to it. This then can turn into rare interaction with their friends and the outside world, leading to isolation and antisocial behaviour.
Then there’re problems with self awareness/actualization. The way children play, interact in real life (social environment), and get integrated into society is being overtaken by computers nowadays. That is making a huge impact on the way their interests are founded, due to the fact that at this age their personality is being formed.
The computer itself is a very good instrument for enhancing the intellectual property of an adult, and a good tool for exchanging information. But at the same time, permanent addiction to computers (which is frequently the case) can also be dangerous, especially when it’s not controlled by an adult or parent.
Games which are intensively played by children in their early ages do contain a certain level of violation which is subconsciously/unfiltered copied in their real lives, making kids react with aggression (willing to do the same, etc), neurotrophic and have other symptoms,” said Ninoshvili.
“As I’ve observed over 10 years working as a child psychologist, reading books in children has been diminished drastically, as kids prefer to go online instead – chatting, playing and amusing themselves. Kids sometimes even lose sense of time when playing video games and adapt to fast-paced visual medium. And although it enhances their visual performance, overuse can also have negative effects on their cognitive brain.
Hence parents’ involvement in those issues is of utmost importance (in the beginning) in order to set time limits and somehow to oversee their children’s social behaviour and development,” said Eka Ninoshvili.