We don’t need no protection

We don’t need no protection

We as Turks have always been proud of our tight family relations. It is one of the fundamental qualities we use to define ourselves. The family is such an important concept for us that it extends beyond our real family and into the political sphere.

If a prime minister shows the right attributes we call them “father” or “mother” as was the case with Tansu Çiller. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is one of those figures whom society considers to be a fit father. I don’t know if it is because of such affection but he is on a mission to save our youth from the perils of the Internet. Each day the pressure and censorship on websites rises.

Last week I hosted the founder of ekşisözlük on the Bilgi Çağı radio show and he had unbelievable stories about the thousands of cases against him and his company. He said that being a beacon of free speech in Turkey is becoming harder. However, he added that he has a hard time explaining the importance of his endeavor as many people take free speech for granted.

Right now I am in Baku and all of the websites which are banned in Turkey are open here in Azerbaijan. It came as a surprise to me as we Turks have a tendency to think of Azerbaijan as a dictatorship. Being here reminded me that some democracies can be worse than some dictatorships.

 The will of the public, as Erdoğan likes to remind us each day, is not necessarily for the good of the people as a whole. That’s why I want to summarize a recent research done by commonsensemedia about the effects of social media on youth. After reading the report I hoped that Erdoğan and his administration could come to understand that our youth needs more freedom, not saving. I mean real freedom, not freedom of choice among already censored choices.

According to commonsensemedia’s research, almost all teenagers in America today have used social media. Nine out of 10 (90 percent) of 13 to 17-year-olds have used some form of social media. Three out of four (75 percent) of teenagers currently have a profile on a social networking site, one in five (22 percent) currently have a Twitter account and 27 percent have ever used Twitter). Facebook utterly dominates social networking use among teens with 68 percent of all teens saying Facebook is their main social networking site, compared to 6 percent for Twitter, 1 percent for GooglePlus, and 1 percent for MySpace. Just 25 percent said they don’t use a social networking site.

Teens are much more likely to report that using social media has a positive impact on their social and emotional lives rather than a negative one. Many more teens report a positive impact of social media use on their emotional well-being as well. Most teens don’t think their use of social media affects their social and emotional well-being one way or the other. But there are some teens who think that using social media does affect how they feel about themselves and their social situation.

More than one in four teens say that using a social networking site makes them feel less shy (29 percent) and more outgoing (28 percent). One in five says it makes them feel more confident (20 percent), more popular (19 percent), and more sympathetic to others (19 percent). Fifteen percent say it makes them feel better about themselves overall. By comparison only 5 percent say social networking makes them feel less outgoing; 4 percent feel worse about themselves, less confident, and less popular after using their social networking site; and 3 percent feel shyer. Very few teens think that using their social network site makes them more depressed. Among all teen social network users, only 5 percent say using their social networking site makes them feel more depressed, compared to 10 percent who say it makes them feel less depressed. Even among the least happy teens in this study, which make up 10 percent who say they are often sad or depressed and aren’t very happy with their lives, 18 percent of them say using their social networking site makes them feel more depressed, while 13 percent say it lessens their depression. In particular, teens think that using social media has helped their relationships. Half (52 percent) of all teen social media users say using such media has mainly helped their relationships with friends, compared to just 4 percent who say social media use has mainly hurt their relationships. Similarly, more than a third (37 percent) say social media use has mainly helped their relationships with family members, compared to 2 percent who say it has mainly hurt them. In addition, a majority of teens say social media helps them keep in touch with friends they can’t see regularly (88 percent), socialize with other students at their school better (69 percent), and connect with new people who share a common interest (57 percent).