Social media has taken the world by storm through dozens of websites, mobile apps, and other forms of technologies improving the way people communicate with each other. There are social media sites that have millions of members allowing them to share photos, videos, text messages, and more on a regular basis. There are a large number of advantages and disadvantages to using such sites that leave researchers wondering if we are better off without it. Has social media improved or damaged the way people connect with each other? There are studies that suggest it has done both.
The advantages of social media have been interesting to observe and participate in for millions of people around the world over the past few years. People have been able to communicate with people in their local neighborhood and talk to people in other countries at the same time. People have formed online communities that allowed them to get support, education, and even promote and sell products. You can connect with people from school and learn about news that is happening in other parts of the world. If you do not like talking on the phone or lack time to meet in person, you can connect via social media at any time convenient for you. You also have a list of contacts maintained for you through the social media platform you use. But, these advantages have a downside that raises ongoing concerns.
The disadvantages may hurt how people communicate with each other. Some people prefer to have face-to-face interaction with friends and loved ones. Fraud and scams have been on the rise with more people using social media as their main form of communication. Others have wondered what happens to your person information when you stop using the site or when someone is deceased. There is also the issue of knowing how much information to share and what you should avoid. Viruses tend to spread easier and faster when people are not sure what links to avoid clicking.
Others have found themselves in uncomfortable situations they wish they could undo, but unfortunately social media can still keep a record of it making it more difficult to leave in the past. Social media offers promising features that can make people think twice about how they utilize this platform. Sometimes you put yourself at risk of ruining a relationship based on what you post or what you may say to someone.
The importance of social media influence on children and teenagers can hardly be overestimated. Firstly, because any strong effect applied during these formative years of personal development is bound to have long-lasting ramifications, probably affecting the individual’s entire life. Secondly, because it is this particular age demographic that is the most active in using social media – according to a report issued by Common Sense Media, about 75 percent of American teenagers have active profiles on at least one social networking website, and 68 percent of them habitually use Facebook as their primary social networking tool. Such ubiquity makes both positive and negative effects of social media extremely important to understand and control – yet we are still far away from grasping the entire picture.
On the one hand, social media serve as an incredibly powerful instrument for broadening one’s social horizons. Getting to know new people, starting useful acquaintances with individuals you could never meet otherwise, learning new skills, getting instruction and assistance – all these possibilities are quite helpful and make modern teenagers much more flexible than their earlier counterparts. Moreover, social networks are now widely used in business promotion; thus, going through such activities every day, children and teenagers grasp the techniques applied in the business processes. It means that in the future it will be much easier for them to integrate into marketing strategies when they are all set for the adult life.
Yet there is another, darker and grimmer side to the social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and suchlike are real time eaters. Because of them, students very often do not manage to hand in their assignments because social networks offer interesting opportunities to procrastinate instead of doing homework. Of course, not all children give in to temptation but they still waste much time on browsing Facebook feed or reading news on Twitter. As a result, students stay up late to complete their homework and sleep deprivation rates are only rising.
In addition to commonly spread fears of possible negative side-effects of moving most of human communication into this depersonalized mode, there are such things as cyber-bullying, sexting and even entirely new disorders and conditions such as “Facebook depression”, which pose a much more immediate threat. It is also important not to forget that among the new and fascinating people one can meet on social media there are ones who are better to avoid. It is also much easier to conceal one’s personality and appear as somebody different on the Internet than in real life. This makes filtering out dubious individuals on social media harder than when you meet people personally.
All in all, social media, just like all other developments and novelties, has both positive and negative effects; we are just yet to see which outweigh which.
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