Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Social Media: Harm or Help?

Social Media: Harm or Help?
In the past years, technology has made huge leaps and bounds in the ways we communicate with each other. As social media, the websites and applications used for social networking, has evolved and grown, more and more of the teenage population using it is also increasing. In fact, as of 2012, 95% of teens in America between the ages of 12 to 17 have a social media account. The common question for parents is, “Is social media benefitting our children or is it hurting them?” Despite what you might read or hear about teens behaving badly online, studies show that social media does indeed benefit teenagers’ communication skills and broadens their radar for information. Social media is an excellent tool for those who can wield its power correctly.

Social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are extremely popular applications for teenagers all over the world. Why is it so popular? Social media is a network of websites that allows users to virtually share and view what others have done. The information can be seen immediately, and is undoubtedly faster than sending letters. Such speeds allow classmates to communicate outside of school, friends from the other side of the world to message each other, and for adults to rekindle old relationships.

Although people often relate social media to people who waste several hours of their day posting things, not all users fit into that category. In fact, many people believe that using social media can be helpful. Nicole Ellison, PhD says that “the benefits provided by social network sites such as Facebook have made us better off as a society and as individuals, and that, as they continue to be adopted by more diverse populations, we will see an increase in their utility. ”

Studies have also shown that social media helps people practice 21st century skills, find jobs, and reduce loneliness. Nowadays, many jobs revolve around technology. As more work requires using social media and the computer, the more important it is for employees to be able to correctly use it.The more proficient one is with the new technology, the more likely they will be hired. A report in 2002 also proved that social media helps reduce loneliness. For people who have Asperger’s Syndrome and those who have trouble communicating with others, social media is a great way to connect with others without feeling uncomfortable.

Not only is the social media a great way to learn from others, it is also an excellent teaching tool. In August 2013, Facebook set up a workshop in Zimbabwe and other African countries to inform children about HIV and AIDS. By teaching a few children about the dangers of STDs and correct social media usage, Facebook believes that the kids will be able to spread the news and improve the health of a large population.

Social media is also a good source of current events. On Facebook, for example, the user has the option of liking a news page. The page will send notifications about recent news. That way, when the user logs on, they will be able to see the latest reports.

On several occasions, social media can be used for great good. An exemplary example was made by Youtube user, MagicofRahat, who managed to gather over $ 40,000 for a homeless man. The money was raised by viewers who donated after seeing the first video made by MagicofRahat. The money was used to rent out a house, buy furniture, appliances, food, insurance and savings. The heartwarming videos show how much people online can help others, even when they could never meet in real life.

Many people, including experts like Tom Hodgkinson, a writer for the Guardian, think social media is a waste of time because it takes away the face to face interaction between humans. However, they do not understand that some people can’t meet each other face to face. Social media is a high speed mail system that people require to accomplish important things that offer little time to finish. It is also a helpful tool for people to learn how to fit into modern society. Finally, social media can be used for amazing and inspirational causes.

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Conclusion: Updated 29 May 2014

When I first learned that we were going to do a blog project, I felt totally fine. Then, Ms. Gerla, our teacher says "Oh, and whatever you write, others from all over the world will be able to read it." At that, my heart skipped a beat. Even though I use the internet everyday and read blogs on several topics, I never really thought of the gravity of posting my own opinion to the world. As we began our project, I had a feel of dread, because I had no idea what to write, what to say and how to say it to an audience. However, as I made more and more progress in my project, I began to feel more and more confident. By the time I finished with my blog, I realized that I really enjoyed the process.

Throughout my blog, I tried to persuade the reader that social media is not as bad as society thinks it is. It can be used to benefit the world. I chose this topic because the society is so against social media, and stereotypes emerge from people who are using it wrong. I wanted to prove that social media is not only a breeding place for bad news. For some, social media is a conduit for them to extend their reach and give aid to others,

Throughout this entire blogging process, I learned several reasons how social media can benefit our society. I read several articles about individuals or groups who selflessly helped other with the help of social media. Being a social media user myself, I plan to follow in their footsteps.

Blogging-wise, I really enjoyed the experience, and if I had the chance to write another blog, I would be more than happy to get started.

Last but not least, I would like to thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. For those who commented on my blog, you all left great feedback, but I did not change my mind about my thesis because everyone agreed with my view. You all also asked excellent questions, and some, I did not have the answer to on the top of my head. I had to research more to be able to answer your question. I really appreciate all of your feedback, and from them, I will improve my writing.

-Sincerely Daniel Wang

15 comments:

  1. Hi Daniel,
    I agree that there are benefits and harmful affects of social media. I think social media is popular because passwords and privacy setting make it feel safe even through it might not be. how do you think the effects of the wide spread use of social media are impacting the way we get our information?

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  2. Hello Daniel,
    You picked a great topic to research. I like how you focused on the positives of Facebook rather than the negative ones. I use to use Facebook ALL the time, but then my Mom friended me. I still use it, but in a different way now. The Nisqually tribe uses Facebook to communicate with each other from the Upper Rez to the Lower Rez. It could be as simple as a bake sale at the community center, information about an upcoming Pow Wow or that there is a scheduled power outage. It is also how The Nisqually Tribe Canoe family communicate important dates and activities. Just like what you said, Facebook is used as a tool and it helps my tribe stay connected. Do you use social media, specifically Facebook, to stay connected with a group of people?

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    1. Hey Riley, thank you for your feedback!! When I made my Facebook account, the primary reason was everyone else had an account. I thought it would be cool to have one more thing in common with my classmates. On occasions, I use my Facebook account to message friends, mostly about homework. Otherwise, I use it for entertainment. When I was in 6th grade, I went to a public school. I made a Gmail account specifically so I can keep in touch with my friends because we didn't have tarrier apps. Gmail helped my connect with my classmates outside of class and I was able to meet and befriend other people at my school that I would otherwise never talk to.

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  3. Hi Daniel! Thank you for bringing up this rather controversial issue. I think your argument is very convincing, and you did a good job of showing the positives of social media. I personally use social media a lot, and I agree with you that it helps connect people who cannot otherwise interact. My question is however, do you think that some people who could talk face-to-face interact less in person because of social media? Do you think that the internet has come to replace some real human connections?

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  4. Hi Daniel! I found your post really interesting - thanks for posting it! I agree that social networks can fluctuate between being useful and definitely not beneficial. In my opinion, it all depends on what the user is trying to get out of the site. Do you think it's safe to say that most people who use social networks for pure entertainment are teens?

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    Replies
    1. Hey Kate, thanks for your reply! According to pewinternet.com, 90% or teens ages 18-29 use social media while only 78% of people ages 30-49 use social media. Even though many teens use social media for entertainment, some teens use it for educational purposes, advertisement and other reasons to help others. However, majority of teenagers do use social media solely for entertainment.

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  5. Hey Daniel! Great topic! I personally love social media, it is a nice way to stay in touch with people and a fabulous know what is happening in the life's of your friends and family. As much as I love them, they distract me from things I should be focused on, like homework, and that is not good! As you can see, I agree that social media can be useful to people but it can also not be too great for people. I am curious though, has social media completely changed the way we as a society are today, or is it a not-so-drastic change?

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  6. Great topic Daniel! I think I am just as addicted to social media as much as the next teenager! I think that social media is great for people to use to connect with others that live far away or to connect with people who share common interests. It also is another form of entertainment besides television. Social media can be harmful with problems like cyber-bullying, but I think that minor problems with online users can help teens learn to work out their problems with other people. I have seen people on Instagram calmly end their arguments and state their opinions without hurting others. There is always the distraction of social media when doing homework but students can use it as an opportunity to learn self control and time management! Thanks for the post!
    - VTP

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  7. Hi Daniel, Good post, it is definitely a topic people worry about today. Not owning much social media myself, I don't have much insight to the topic. However, I do agree with what you mentioned earlier in you blog that social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and the world. But my question is, where is the line between keeping in touch with your friends and family and wasting your life snap chatting your friends? Can you go overboard on your social media and does the type of social media your using affect these issues?

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    1. Hey Lynn429, thanks for your feedback! There is definitely a line between using the social media to keep in touch, and using the social media to burn hours. I believe the line is when the user spends their time on the web and not able to accomplish anything else such as school work or other obligations. I have a Facebook account and I spend about 10 minutes on it each day. Sometimes, I lose track of time and spend more time than I intend. However, this does not happen to me often.

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  8. Thank you for your post, Daniel. Although I do not use much social media, I found your argument to be very persuasive. You mostly discussed the benefits of social media, but can too much usage be harmful? Social media can often be a distraction from work. I think using social media as a teaching tool is a great idea. Since so many people use social media, information and ideas could be spread to many people in a short amount of time.

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    1. Hey Andrew, thank you for your feedback! A very wise person (my mom) once said "Even though something is beneficial, it can become bad when it is used too much." I think this can directly relate to social media. When the user controls the amount of time they spend on the social media, they will learn things, not waste too much time, and they will not loose the capability of communicating with other humans. However, if the user does not pay attention to the amount of time they spend on the social media, they may become what many people call "anti-social" because their screen time has reduced their real world communication skills.

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  9. Hi Daniel,
    Your article was very interesting, I kept reading because I wanted to know more and your opinion was fascinating. I agree, I always hear my family or people telling me that watching too much TV is bad for my imagination and mind. Although if it is incredibly violent I would see their point. I do not watch super violent stuff so I shouldn't turn into a potato. I also agree with you that social media sites like Facebook are good for people because it's a place where people can put their opinions about a subject or share something that happened on the news. For me personally, I mostly use it to stay in touch with old friends and see how their lives are. Although, what if you become obsessed with it, I know people who check their Facebook all the time, even at school. Wouldn't that effect a person?

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