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September 3, 2011

Weekend Reviews: The best and worst of the Internet

There's no argument that as a majority, teenagers today use the Internet on a daily basis. As a whole, we know how to successfully navigate the Web and are hardly ever confused by what we see anymore.

Speaking for myself, I am oftentimes employed by my parents or other elders to find things, such as a certain recipe or a song, or even just navigate Facebook.

Don't get me wrong, for the most part, the adults in my life are completely capable of using the Internet without any running commentary from me. However, there are certain aspects that seem to befuddle them, which cause them to turn to me.

Why is this? My friends and I consistently talk about the fact that while our parents grew up with records and typewriters, we have grown up in the Information Age and therefore have been more conditioned to the ways of the Internet.

My personal tactics when using the computer basically consist of trial and error, and it's just luck that I usually end up finding what I'm looking for. That is where we differ from our parents; we have confidence that we will find whatever it is that we're looking for, where they don't necessarily think that way.

Our parents and elders, while probably using that technique themselves "back in the day" seem to absorb the idea at a slower pace. And this is most likely because unlike us teens, who use the Internet for almost everything nowadays, adults don't see the need to consistently update their Facebook status or buy new songs off of iTunes every day.

Does this make us wrong for using the Internet in a more constant manner? Of course not. After all, that's exactly what it's there for. It is true that before the Internet was around, there was a different way of doing the same things we do today, i.e., school research projects.

All the time we hear adults talking about how when they were in school, instead of Googling whatever it was they needed, they actually had to go to the library and search for a source. That's exactly what we do now, except instead of searching the entire periodicals for a reference of some obscure plant in Peru or the capital of Madagascar (which is Antananarivo, thank you, Wikipedia), we are able to find resources online, taking way less time to do so.

If the resources are made available to us to implement the Internet in such ways, why not take advantage of them?

But let's be honest here: the main reason teenagers use the Internet so much is not for academic purposes.

To shine the light on what we really do online, I talked to my peers and made a compilation of our favorite websites and other online tools.

It's no secret that one of the most popular websites on the Internet right now is Facebook, the founding of which was highly publicized in last year's movie, "The Social Network."

For those of you who are as of yet unfamiliar with Facebook's purpose, it is a social networking site that allows people to talk and interact with friends, family, co-workers and peers on a more personal level.

You can also interact with different artists, companies, even newspapers and organizations.

I use Facebook for many different purposes, the biggest being to keep in touch with friends and family, as well as people I've met who live in different countries, such as our school's past foreign exchange students.

It is a terrific way to communicate instantaneously with many different people.

I also implement Facebook for my extracurricular activities to communicate different events, deadlines, etc.

It usually works effectively and becomes a useful sounding board for different ideas and conversations.

However, the biggest problems that stem from Facebook and other social networking sites such as Twitter seem to be ignorance and lack of common sense.

If teenagers realized that everything they post online, be it pictures of Friday's party or what they're doing after school, can come back to bite them, we would have way few problems and scandals.

Other favored websites include Tumblr and StumbleUpon, which are basically collections of obscure and random things.

These range from comic strips to fashion tips and recipes. Both sites provide interesting ways to find to about new things and bond with friends.

Of course YouTube is a website that is highly used, especially by teenagers.

We can watch hilarious videos from Internet favorites such as JennaMarbles or Kingsley, view music videos by artists, or upload our very own videos to show the world.

The same online etiquette for social networking should apply here: watch what you post, because everything can come back to haunt you!

Whether we like it or not, the Internet has completely changed the way the world interacts with each other. Teenagers have just come to embrace and take advantage of everything the Internet has to offer, and if they use it wisely and in moderation, there is nothing wrong with that.

Maggie McVey is a senior at Oneonta High School. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at

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