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The Impact of Social Media/Networking

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The world has been swept of its feet and taken over by the amazing capabilities of the mass media and its effect. Like any fashion in the 21st century, social media has flourished and become a part of mainstream life all around the world. The dominant presence of social media and networking can now be found places such as the workplace, schools, hospitals, restaurants, sports fields and most interestingly, the day to day lifestyles of people at large. Companies have gained popularity, jobs have been made easier, a more ready market is now available, and communication is now faster, easier, and cheaper amongst other changes.

Unfortunately, not only are there advantages to this delightful intervention, there are also some very serious disadvantages that are posing as a threat to organizations, companies and most importantly, peoples’ lives. The lack of security and the ability to create fake identities: the stereotypes and the labeling. Journalists would relate this to the “Magic Bullet Model’ of the early 1900’s.

This was when the effects of media were so great that the people were controlled by the media. At that time, the only things that moved us out of that theory were Industrialization, Urbanization and Modernization. Alas it seems as though we are falling back into that web. Social media has been known to treat all users the same: trusted friend or total stranger, with little or nothing in between. Many things can I be said about the impact of Social Media as a whole but I will

Sabau 2 narrow down my research to Facebook and its impacts, whether positive or negative on the following. The impact of social networking can be looked at in many different ways and as David Paul Nord said, “New technology is never as new as people imagine.”(Nord) The same can be said about social networking. My focus will be on the use of Facebook and the difference in the way people used it in the past, today and perhaps in the future. This research will cover points on the impact on Education: The teachers and the students, Business: development and employment and lastly, Communication in the social world. Education

I think that it is critical to realize and accept is that social networking websites are here to stay. According to this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA5Fn_Q10Tk&feature=related , an education study revealed that online students are out-performing those that are receiving face to face instruction. Is this a cause for concern? I can almost foresee a world where school buildings will be demolished or under used whilst everyone takes classes online.

The more time students spend on social sites, the less time they spend socializing in person. Because of the lack of body signals and other nonverbal cues, like tone and inflection, social networking sites are not an adequate replacement for face-to-face communication. Students who spend a great deal of time on social networking are less able to effectively communicate in person. British academic, author, speaker and technologist Steve Wheeler posted in his blog asking: “Should we try to use social

Sabau 3 network services such as Facebook and MySpace as serious educational tools, or should they remain the domain of informal chat and backstage antics?” (Wheeler) Great question. With Facebook, where there seems to be only positive effects at the moment, the negative effects might not be so clear cut as society is still grappling with the broader social ills of Facebook.

The original intention of Facebook is to encourage and increase the level of social interactions between people online and also for its members to connect with one another. So would there be such a situation of negative effects arising out of a product that seems to only want to promote social interactions? What could possibly arise out of people wanting to connect with each other, liking each other status updates, photo uploads or even sharing common interests and hobbies? Is it limiting the academic capabilities of our generations’ minds?

The thought of using Facebook as an educational tool sounds exciting for students but according to traditional USU Professor Jason Leiker, ‘as beneficial as this may be in terms of speedy communication, this is a despicable loss of values and book reading and should not be given a second thought.”(Leiker) It does seem daunting that all textbooks and libraries will go out of business and generations to come may end up using tablets to write the alphabet.

Quite a shocker! I my opinion, both should be utilized but I believe in a formal education with textbooks and paper to write on in normal schools then perhaps as the level of education rises then it is easier and more sensible to incorporate. Another point of view is that, everybody utilizes Facebook for completely different reasons from formal education. People (along with those with the drive to learn) like socializing, making new friends, sharing of feelings and emotions, or Sabau 4 sharing of some interesting sites or links on YouTube, personal likes and dislikes and or articles.

Some may even prefer online dating, or just chatting with friends in an informal manner. Then you get the occasional stalker! When it comes to institutions such as colleges and universities, socializing on Facebook becomes an inevitable part of the Education process.

After extensive research, I have found that students form study groups, create educational quizzes, use applications such as www.ratemyprofessor.com, and meet other prospective students to discuss what classes to take and or activities on campus. For example, here at Utah State, there is Facebook page that caters to the entire 2012 freshman and their needs. Basically, it is a forum for the exchange of services and ideas. A virtual marketplace of ideas: convenient because it saves on cost and time. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Incoming.USU.Class.2012/?fref=ts. Students

In recent years, a few studies have investigated the use social networking in education. A study conducted by Tongkaw, Ismail and Tongkaw (2009) suggests that 88% of students see potential in social networking as an educational tool. The authors believe that social networking sites are not only for social activities but also for educational aspects, offering students with a platform to a regularly practice writing, a place to ask questions and a medium of communication and notification. As part of my research, I decided to conduct an observational research technique.

In the Merril Cazier Library at USU, I walked around the study sections and I asked students questions and opinions. Undergraduate Chelsea Youngstrom said “Multitasking helps to keep me from being bored so when I write a paragraph or finally figure out a concept, I reward myself by checking that notification.”(Youngstrom) On a completely different level, Graduate student Matthew Terry, who recently deleted his account on the social networking site Facebook, said “ Facebook is a distraction and at this point in my academic life, I am trying to stay away from anything that hinders my progress.”(Terry).

After speaking to these students, I came to the conclusion that it seems as though the majority of Facebook users in a university, range from ages 18 – 22. The older group to have made Facebook less of a priority and unlike the younger group they are more comfortable with the traditional ways of teaching and learning. Age is playing a huge role in time spent on Facebook as well as the reasons why.


On the 18th of November 2010, Andy Bloxham of the British Daily “The Telegraph” posted a riveting article with the title “Social networking: teachers blame Facebook and Twitter for pupils’ poor grades.”(Bloxham) The article placed emphasis on the disappointment that the teachers had in the children’s apparent lack of respect for using correct grammatical terms and more than half of the teachers believed that the students with the poorest grades are the ones that spend more time online chatting with friends.

One teacher said, “Rather than relying on life experiences, educational travel and face to face interaction with others, children are becoming obsessed with social networking and this is shaping their attitudes instead.” Kairen Cullen, an educational psychologist, said: ”It’s a complex subject. Drawing on the basis of my clinical practice working with lots of children and young people, in this day and age it is inevitable that children will want to access and make sense of social networking.”(Cullen).

I chose to refer to this particular article because it not only focuses on a universal topic and debate; it is from another country, The United Kingdom. My point in doing this is to show that this problem/blessing is everywhere and the same concerns are shared globally. Anyone in any part of the world can relate to this and I think that is very important for any research.


Searching for an applicant’s name on popular social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook has become part of the regular hiring routine at most businesses. Not only does this process save time when going through so many applications, it gives the employer to meet the candidate before they actually see them in person. Therefore they can make a decision based on Sabau 7 whether the candidate’s personal likes, online behavior or social life will benefit the company or not. Though these sites are relatively easy to access, many may not be aware of the trouble they can stir up when used in the hiring process.

Though an applicant’s social network profile might contain most of the same information you would find on their resume, these profiles may also share information related to gender, relationship status, sexual preference, home town, age, religion and if they have or plan to have children. When it comes to hiring, the problem is that most of these topics should never be discussed.

If a business were to make a hiring decision based on any of the personal information just listed on someone’s personal profile, they do run the risk of either hiring the wrong candidate who’s online data may not entirely be true or losing a potential candidate simply because of their, sexuality or race. In recent cases, companies have been pointed fingers at for discrimination and faced serious legal issues. Unless one has a legitimate job-related reason for asking an employee about personal information, the topics should be avoided completely.


Facebook has already become a worldwide phenomenon and it did not exist until 2004. For something that is only eight years old, Facebook has succeeded in changing the way people communicate today and has even begun to shape the future of communication. In schools and colleges, students have begun to use colloquial language therefore creating a barrier between the professors and themselves. This has already become a habit and is gradually eroding the importance of real language in society. Research has shown that people who spend more time on Facebook find it difficult to converse and maintain proper eye contact at the same. Electronic Sabau 8 interaction displaces the social interaction, keeping people apart – it is so convenient that people lack the drive to actually interact face to face.

People are social animals, in the main, and removing that pillar can actually affect their social development, especially if started at a young age. On the other hand, Facebook is not entirely a disaster for communication. It can actually be beneficial to others. According to author Gary Lecky – Thompson,(Thompson) “Online communication can help those with dysfunctional syndromes achieve a level of social interaction previously difficult or impossible. For some people, interaction with crowds is made easier if they do not actually feel the physical immersion.”

Such sites also provide those isolated by disability or environment with a rich and fulfilling social life. For anyone who is unable to leave their own house, social networking has provided a great way to get in touch with people who have similar issues, as well as allowing them to stay in touch with existing networks of friends. In conclusion, the impact of social networking has not even begun to take over as much as it will in the future.

Although it has changed the lives of many today, “New technology is never as new as people imagine” so we need to brace ourselves for more. The question today is not if but how we manage the use of these sites and whether or not we allow our lives to be controlled by the social media and networks. Discipline is the only attribute that can save us at this point. We are but victims of the mass media but since we are its creators, we should be able to control it and as famous author R. Buckminster Fuller,(Fuller) “We are called to be architects of the future , not its victims.”

Works Cited
1.http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/73anm6mt9780252074042.html 2. http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/search?q=social+media
3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8142721/Social-networking-teachers-blame-Facebook-and-Twitter-for-pupils-poor-grades.html 4. http://suite101.com/article/facebook-good-or-bad-for-communication-a121387

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