A large majority of young people, especially pre-adolescents in Vietnam, have immersed themselves in an online life and consider it their main means of communication and interface with the community.
Besides spending all night long playing online games or watching television, pre-adolescents are heavily engrossed with social networks, Facebook being their favorite.
Thanks to the affordable price of a smartphone now, around VND2 million (US$90), most young people have access to the kind of mobile that allows them to sign in to their Facebook account permanently.
A recent survey of 600 pre-adolescents carried out by the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education revealed that over 97 percent of local children have Facebook accounts and that over 94 percent of them are addicted to the social networking site to varying degrees.
While there are advantages for social communication when using Facebook, it has also been shown to have negative effects on young people, such as the preference for using slang or ‘street’ language, chatting with swear words, adopting a violent attitude, and ignoring studies and homework.
Psychologist Mai My Hanh, a lecturer at the university, said, “Children’s addiction to Facebook has reached an alarming level, resulting in negative effects across the community and in school.”
According to the survey, 65 percent of children admitted that Facebook is currently their top service for entertainment.
A seventh grader at a school in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City said, “I can’t live without Facebook and I am online 24/7 to chat with friends.
“Some adults sign in to Facebook to post obscene images.
“Others get there to challenge people to a fight or to verbally insult one another.”
Another student told Tuoi Tre, “I sign in to Facebook whenever I am free. I go there to check if someone has insulted me.”
Nguyen Thi Thuy Hang, a college student, said, “I am on Facebook over 10 hours a day to share my emotions, chat with friends, and post pictures of my trips.”
Based on the research, one may conclude that Facebook has become the means, source and destination when it comes to happiness, sadness, and all kinds of emotions for pre-adolescent children.
For parents, the concern is that continual access to Facebook causes their children to ignore studies and homework.
“Sometimes, at home I have to call my son three or four times to get a reply.
“I check and see that he’s chatting on Facebook with his friends.”
One eighth grader confessed that he once tried to go to sleep early but was so absorbed in chatting that he could only stop at three or four in the morning.
Research by scientists at the University of Bergen in Norway identified varying levels of addiction to Facebook and grouped them into the six following.
They are “You are always thinking of Facebook and planning to use it,” “You are always urged by yourself to go online with Facebook,” “You sign in to Facebook to forget personal problems,” “You try to decrease the time with Facebook but fail,” “You are worried about being banned from using Facebook,” and finally “You are so absorbed in using Facebook that you ignore your studies and work.”
Those who reply “regularly” to at least four of the six above sentences are deemed addicted to Facebook.
Those who are worried and lack self-confidence are inclined to get hooked on Facebook, according to the university.
The school confirmed that those who are ambitious and strong in organizational skills and self-confidence are not addicted to the social networking service.
In Singapore, people surf for an average of 38 minutes once signing in to their Facebook account, double the amount of time of the users in the U.S.