After coming across an article, discussing the new link found between the number of friends people have on Facebook and the degree to which they are a narcissist*, it made me think what sort of effect has social networking had on society.
Surely its negative.
Craig (2012) said that young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic and Facebook has provided a platform for this. But this isn’t the only problem.
Overuse of such sites has seen to have a negative effect on health. Sigman (2009) was concerned that a reduction in personal contact could increase the risks of heart disease, stroke and dementia! He suggested that increased isolation could upset immune responses, hormone levels and the function of the arteries, increasing the risk of these problems.
Not only that, but it has an effect on psychological wellbeing. Increasing numbers of anxiety and depression are becoming apparent. It may seem that it is a huge popularity contest, to see who has the most friends or who has the most likes on a photo. And if people don’t feel that they ‘make the grade’ it can really affect someone’s self-esteem. It also enables cyber bullying to take place. In one study, 42% of teens reported being bullied on line.
And it has an effect on achievement within school. Teachers believe this obsession with social networking has a direct impact on students’ grades, because they fail to complete their work on time to the required standard. Cullen (2010) said that spending hours on social media will result in poor concentration and a lack of engagement for learning.
However, research has found that such sites have a positive effect. Increasingly, studies are indicating that social networking has a positive impact on social connectedness and wellbeing (Valkenburg & Peter, 2009).
Research has also found that young people are motivated to join these sites to keep strong ties with friends, (Acquisti & Gross). It enables people to keep in touch with current friends, seek out old friends and meet new people. And this may have huge benefits for people who are shy or introverted.
In one study, 50% of students used the sites to talk about school assignments – which we know to be true, what with all our Facebook groups!! And as the younger generation already used the Internet efficiently, they are more likely to be engaged in learning in this way. There is a huge benefit to using social media within the education system.
To conclude, although social networking is part of our everyday life (it accounts for 17% of all time spent on the Internet), there are many positives, and negatives too, including increasing rates in depression and decreased success at school. Although the negatives outweigh the positives in terms of consequences, the growth of social networking will only keep increasing, and its something we cannot stop. The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter more than quadrupled from 2005 to 2009!! It has definitely changed society, but we would not cope without it today. And that’s why despite the negatives, social networks are so popular.