In a world where technology is constantly evolving and taking over every aspect in our lives, whether it’s at home, school, or work, what would happen if Facebook vanished? For those Facebook addicts who spend hours a day online interacting with other people or just browsing profile’s, it would be a hard adjustment. Social networking has evolved tremendously over the past 5 or 6 years and it will continue to evolve everyday. United States high school students are spending their time on social networks trying to meet new friends and their face-to-face social lives are dwindling because they are becoming so addicted to these social networking sites.
Though we know how much our game consoles and mobile devices are rapidly evolving, it is crazy to look back and see how much social networking has evolved in just a matter of 5 or 6 years. In the beginning, before internet, communication was face-to-face or through letters. When the internet came about, people began to e-mail each other, which then evolved to online chatting, which was just a faster way to e-mail. As technology began to advance more and more, social networks appeared. In 2006, it was reported that MySpace had over 20 million members, a number that doesn’t even come close to the amount of people engaging in Facebook and Twitter these days (Bonds-Raacke, 27). Using the Internet has thus acquired a new and more personal dimension. People increasingly rely on it to provide them with societal and communal structures that go beyond their families or work groups (Rhee, Sanders, Simpson 154).
“For many of us—400 million worldwide so far and counting—online networking has become enmeshed in our daily lives. It has transformed our social structures and behavior” says Richard Fisher, author of “Unfriend Me Not”. Fisher’s idea that online networking has been intertwined in our daily lives is extremely useful because it sheds insight on the difficult problem of how much online networking is influencing our social lives. Of course, many people who feel there are no negative impacts on a person who uses Facebook for hours at a time may disagree with this idea, but I believe it to be true. Facebook addicts may feel that there is nothing wrong with what they’re doing because they are being social, making “friends” and exploring the world around them, but I don’t believe that those are necessarily benefits to social networking. Some negative impacts of social networking can be addiction, obsessive behavior, meeting the unknown, such as predators, and it can even lead to the inability to find a job. In another one of Richard Fisher’s articles he says, “Developing a bad habit is easier than you might think.” He then quotes Mark Griffiths, an addiction researcher at Nottingham Trent University, who says, "You can become addicted to potentially anything you do,because addictions rely on constant rewards." Although definitions of addiction vary, there is a body of evidence that suggests drug addictions and non-drug habits share the same neural pathways. Once again, I agree with Fisher and with Griffiths, I think that people who are addicted to things feel that they are in some way getting a reward for their addiction. In a social networkers eyes, he/she may be making new friends, which feels like a reward.Befriending the unknown is one of many risk factors that comes with social networking. Lisa Sohmer, director of college counseling at Garden School in Jackson Heights, NY makes a good point when she says that you hear kids bragging about how many friends they have. To some it is a contest to see who can acquire the most friends, not taking into consideration that a lot of those friends could be sexual predators. Making another legitimate point, Bob Tedeschi points out that scammers or predators can troll for kids by sending out friend requests, then using one child's network of friends to connect with others. Because a lot of adolescent teenagers’ goal is to have a lot of friends, they will be more likely and more willing to add people that they don’t know just based on mutual friends. Another point that Tedeschi makes is that befriending strangers can not only lead to scamming and predators, but it can also lead to identity theft. It may only take a scammer a few minutes of being a so-called “friend” to gather too much information about a person, including their birthdate, hometown, and much more depending on the level of privacy a person has for their profile. Maybe a more important factor that high school kids should be thinking about, is what they want to do with their future. Facebook and other online social networking sites can be potentially harmful to a person’s future based on what they put on the web for everyone to see. In his article, “5 Mistakes (Even Smart) Kids Make Online”, Bob Tedeschi, states that 54 percent of 18-year-olds on social networking sites post things about behavior such as sexual activity or substance use, according to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Ultimately, what can be at stake here is a person’s future. This is a scary idea because I don’t feel like people really take seriously. Tedeschi complicates things somewhat when he throws in that surveys show that 49 percent of teens are unconcerned that what they post online might negatively affect their futures. I know when I got hired at my current job they said that they have looked at people’s Facebook profile’s to see if there was any inappropriate things or anything that could negatively affect their company. For many and most places of employment, it is extremely important to represent their company in a good way, which would not include sexual pictures or pictures of drinking and partying that many social networking gurus post to their profile’s.
Although I agree that Facebook and other social networking sites can be a great ways to keep in touch with old friends and family, I also think that there are ways in which social networking affects our social lives and our social skills. The issue of teenagers relying more on social networking to find and meet friends raises many concerns for their life in the long-term sense. If young kids are so wrapped up in meeting people online, it takes away from the time they could be out interacting with people face-to-face, either at school, at home, through sports, or other social gatherings. A big part of life is learning how to socially interact with people so that when it is time to get a job and start working and living in the real world, it is easier to interact, make friends, and get a job. Without these essential skills, life will be a lot harder for some people.I found something interesting in the book “Adolescent Online Social Communication and Behavior: Relationship Formation on the Internet.” The authors did a study on many different aspects of social networking and found that the more offline social activities that adolescents participate in, the more online social behaviors they will have. They also said that this indicates that offline social activities may activate or complement online behavior or help to enlarge social networks. This makes sense to me because I feel like the more comfortable a person can be with their social skills outside of their online friends, the more comfortable they can be with themselves, allowing them to be a more social person all around, whether it be online or offline. The study also revealed that offline social activity had a stronger effect on social support than did online. It also indicated that social support has not been transferred from offline to online, although many believe that to be true because of the increase of people using the internet and social networks. One reason people go to the internet is to find social support that they feel they aren’t getting, or maybe they don’t know how to get in real life. The same book from before states that, “prolonged contact and communication with each other can form the basis of social support. For example, regular visits to a certain group will raise familiarity and closeness amongst other group members, and thus a sense of community is established.” I agree with this statement because there have been people in my life who feel that they have no social support or are unable to find it because they don’t communicate well or are just too shy, and because of this problem, they turned to the internet to find and make friends.
Addiction Obsessive behavior Predators Identity theft Jobs
Face-to-face Real life interaction activities Social Support Essential skills
Important part of life Social interaction Interviews Getting a job
Bonds-Raacke, Jennifer, and John, Raacke. “MySpace and Facebook: Identifying Dimensions of Uses and Gratifications for Friend Networking Sites.” Individual Differences Research (1541- 745X), Vol. 8 (No. 1), p. 27-33. Fisher, Richard. “Just Can’t Get e-nough.” New Scientist. Dec. 23 2006-Jan. 5, 2007. Vol. 192. Iss. 2583/2584. pg. 34-37. Fisher, Richard. “Unfriend Me Not.” New Scientist. (0262- 4079), Vol. 207. Iss. 2768. p. 02. Rhee, Cheul, Lawrence G. Sanders, and Natalie C. Simpson. EBSCOhost. P. 154-157. DOI: 10.1145/1743548.1743586 Tedeschi, Bob. “5 Mistakes (Even Smart) Kids Make.” Good Housekeeping. August 2009. vol. 249. Iss. 2. Zheng, Robert, Jason Burrow-Sanchez, and Clifford Drew. Adolescent Online Social Communication and Behavior: Relationship Formation on the Internet. PA: Yurchak Printing Inc., 2010.
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