The Significance of social media in the society today can hardly be overestimated due to the heavy reliance by most people today. Social media is a broad term referring to any website which allows any forms of social interaction. This includes networks such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Snapchat, YouTube, blogs as well as gaming sites such as the video gaming sites like Club Penguin. As much as most people cannot imagine life without social media, these sites have not been around for a long time. Most of these social interaction sites have were ushered in as at the start of the 20th century. The first ever recognized social media site came into existence in the year 1997 by the name Six Degrees. This site only lasted for about four years and it allowed its users to generate a profile and then make friends with other users. Afterward, others such as blogs and instant messaging came into existence thanks to the expanding internet connection. By the early 2000’s, MySpace was the most common site for interaction. This site inspired the invention of one of the largest social sites that we have today like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Facebook was launched in 2005 while Twitter came to life in 2006 and many others came up later. Therefore, Social media has become an integral part of every teen’s life hence bringing about a number of consequences to their lifestyle, education, cognitive development among others. As a result, it is the role of both parents and policy-makers to help in overseeing social media usage among teens so as to avoid any negative consequences.
Information has been sourced from a number of scholarly articles such as journals as well as books.
Social media has played a vital role in the society. One major purpose that social media serves is the expression. These social sites give people an avenue to deliberate on various issues concerning the society. By taking a keen look at the various conversations that take place on the various sites, most of them indicate clear deliberations by the various users. “Consistent with our theoretical framework, results confirm that Facebook expands the flow of information to other networks and enables more symmetrical conversations among users, whereas politeness is lower in the more anonymous and de-individuated YouTube.” (GIBBS). The various avenues that people use to channel their expressions exist in the form of Facebook groups as well as pages. People identify themselves with these sites as they take part in bringing out their expressions. Media houses such as CNN and BBC are running their interaction venues in form of Facebook pages and Twitter handles. Through such sections of the social media, people tend to take on the trending issues as a way of expressing their thoughts. One of the most common groups of people of people who are known to make use of social media as a venue for expressing themselves are the political institutions. This includes those individuals who are holding political offices.
Additionally, social media has also a major impact on communication and in the society. Leaders are among the most common people known to communicate via the various social sites, more so, speaking in a political context. Also, many governments, as well as business firms, have also joined the majority in taking the advantage of these social interaction sites. These entities are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to generate a discourse with their citizens or customers with the aim of communicating. For instance, government dignitaries are having Facebook pages and Twitter handles where they communicate with those they lead or work for. “In current years, social media are said to have an impact on the public conversation and communication in the society. In particular, social media are increasingly used in political context. More recently, microblogging services (e.g., Twitter) and social network sites (e.g., Facebook) are believed to have the potential for increasing political contribution.” (Dang-Xuan). From this article, the increasing number of institutions such as governments, business entities, and politicians clearly depicts how social media has greatly impacted communication. Telecommunications firms used to be among the few firms which a reliable channel of communication. Social media came in as an addition to the already existing communication channels, with its impact on the sector is significantly felt.
In a third perspective, social media is a backdrop of entertainment. Just to expound on the definition of entertainment, it is an activity or expression which pulls the attention and interest of the target audience by way of giving them pleasure. The various social interaction sites span beyond being just a site for people to communicate and express themselves. The simple act of meeting people, making friends and interacting with them tends to be fun to many. This brings up a sense of identity and belonging among the participants hence delighting many. One reason for getting entertained is to pass time hence, relieving someone from boredom. Social media has been the best medium for many to ‘kill’ their feeling of getting bored. The many users active on these sites like Instagram are usually out trying to make some sense out their free time. “64 percent of respondents reported that they use social media as a source of leisure. Some of the leisure activities reported were playing games, listening to music, and watching videos. Others mentioned that they use social media for humour and comic relief.” (Whiting). In this report, the author was highlighting on the various ways how people use social media to gain gratifications. From the research, the findings clearly indicated that most social media users as just using the sites as a way of entertaining themselves.
Taking a different narrative, social media being such an integral component of the society, it has its own effects on its users. One critical segments of the society if education. Majority of social media users are people who are in one way or the other associated with the education sector. This includes students, administrators of the various learning institution and even parents. “As social media sites keeps on growing in popularity, it is our principle that technology is a vital part of today’s student success equation………… Results point out while most college students use social media and spend many hours checking social media sites, there was a negative feature to college students’ use of social media.” (Qingya Wang). This journal article highlights the findings of a research which was aiming at determining the effects of social media on college students. From the report, it can be seen a majority of the respondents who were engaged in this research brought forth a negative aspect concerning social media with respect to students. There are both negative and positive effects of social media on education. For instance, the negative aspect of the college students was due to time wastage. On the other side, social media if regulated, can be a good source of educative information which will be crucial for a learners’ success.
Mentally, social media sites are crucial to an individual’s cognitive development. the latter entails the development of the thought process such as decision-making skills. Gaming sites such as the video gaming sites also fall under the category of social media. This is because it entails people being brought together in a social interaction. Online gaming sites are a way of letting people exchange ideas socially. Video gaming involves quick and consequent decision making.
Viewing the effects of social media from another scope, people’s lifestyle is also another factor. Social media has evidently changed many people’s ways of living. Top of the list is the health behavior among most social media users. Individuals from all demographics are always trying to adopt a number of different ways of living with respect to their health. “Even though social media have substantial potential as tools for health promotion and education, these media, like traditional health promotion media, require careful application and may not always achieve their desired outcomes.” (Itani). This article makes a claim that social media has been offering opportunities for modifying health-related behavior.
Having highlighted the various aspects concerning social media, it is quite clear that these interactive sites can instill positive impacts in the society of well regulated. Since teens, especially adolescents are the majority of all the social media users, parents have a key responsibility in overseeing their children. “For this cause, it is important that parents become alert of the nature of social media sites, given that not all of them are healthy environments for children and adolescents.” (Clarke-Pearson). This journal was prepared by a group of pediatricians who are aiming at helping parents by guiding them on how to follow up on their children so as to help them grow as responsible people. Therefore, parents are the ones in the crucial position in helping their children to embrace healthy usage of social media. This is by ensuring they develop a keen interest in wanting to know what their children are viewing while spending time on social media. Additionally, the government can as well be of great importance in ensuring that children are not misguided by social media sites. This can be done by creating awareness among teens on the disadvantages and advantages of social media. This will help the young people make wiser decisions while using these social websites.
In conclusion, social media is with no doubt a significant segment of our society despite the fact that most of the sites have been in existence for long. People around the world have been brought much closer to each other as they can interact easily. To others, these sites have been a great venue for entertainment, outsourcing information, communication and also their cognitive development. Despite these positives, there are also negatives such as facebook depression. As a result, this calls for both parents and the government to actively guide children on how to make good use of social media.
Therefore, I would recommend that children below a certain age should not be allowed to freely access social media. The society should focus on designing preventive measures such as designing software which shall filter and track information that one tries to access in any device. Parents should then use this technology in tracking down what their children are doing with their phones. Consequently, this will encourage responsible use of social media among teens.
GS O’Keefe, Kathleen Clarke; The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families – Paediatrics, 2011
Stefan Stieglitz and Linh Dang-Xuan; Social media and political communication: a social media analytics framework – Social network analysis and mining, 2013.
Daniel Halpern and Jennifer Gibs; Social media as a catalyst for online deliberation? Exploring the affordances of Facebook and YouTube for political expression – Computers in Human Behaviour, 2013.
Anita Whiting; Why people use social media: a uses and gratifications approach – Qualitative market research, 2013.
Qingya Wang, Wei Cheng and Yu Liang; The Effects of Social Media on College Students – Johnson & Wales University, 2011.
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