Social media....

Social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on facilitating the building of social networks or social relations among people who, for example, share interests, activities, backgrounds, or real-life connections. The most commonly used social networks are My Space, Facebook which allows people to write mini-applications called widgets, Twitter, LinkedIn, Bebo, Xanga, Badoo, and Friendstar among many others. Social networking has added to connections and taken the art of communication or interaction to different heights that do not rely on relating only with people in one’s immediate family, neighbourhood, church, workplace, school and community. Social networking has become a strong avenue or means that defines our livelihood and social culture in today’s world.

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The ‘telecommuting generation’ uses these social networking walls and pinging on Blackberry phones in place of direct conversations. Is the social networking distorting, stealing from or taking the place of real life face-to-face discussions, with its chats and texting? While broadening users’ outreach group, most social networks are bereft of the environment, facial expressions, smiles, sounds, warmth, touch, smells, gestures, and movement, infused in interactive direct relationships. New researches shows that ‘Face book and Twitter are more difficult to resist than cigarettes or alcohol…because there is no obvious or immediate downside’ to using these social networking services. Some teenagers prefer to spend all their spare time pinging, texting, chatting, playing games or being online rather than discuss with people in their immediate vicinity – some actually text each other while in the same room.

Membership of A Social Network

Using the social network gives one the opportunity to expand relationship groups by bringing different social groups together, re-connect with old friends, classmates, make new friends, and become friends with friends who have and are connected to other friends. To become a member of a social network normally requires each intending user to set up a profile with pictures, personal information like name, age, location, gender, web cam, and other diverse services. These media often provide web-based means for people to relate on the internet and share ideas by using email, or instant messaging. Although the social network has revolutionized the way we communicate in the twenty-first century, it is also laden with its share of returns and restrictions as other older methods of communications.

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Advantages of Social Network Media

  • It is a good way to advertise and be aware of current cultural trends.
  • It gives users the opportunity to make new friends, renew old ones and keep in touch with less time interacting, through pinging and poking, which is regarded as ‘the new handshake.’
  • Users are able to disseminate information faster to a wider group or groups of people – as long as they remember that having a wider group also means that words cannot be taken back.
  • It provides a good forum for posting private information, home address and social places if one wants to be tracked down.
  • The social network is also a cost effective or free means of targeting, scouting, for potential customers for business and advertisement purposes.
  • A lot of amateur film makers, writers and musicians use social networks to showcase their works to a larger group of fans and bring attention to their art in a cost effective way that eliminates distribution costs.
  • Most importantly, users are able to manipulate and present a more comfortable and positive self-image.

Disadvantages of Social Media

  • People can find you easily once there is personal information for them to know who you are.
  • Cyber-criminals or strangers can use this media to involve other users in identity thefts, harassments, scams, and cyber-stalking.
  • Being on the social media can be time consuming especially if one has the habit of responding to every mail or request from online friends.
  • Students can be penalized for posting images or information that violates school policy and applicants have been known to lose job opportunities due to inappropriate materials in their online profile.
  • Most people spend family time on online friends, have a misplaced sense of trust on online friends and subsequently make them more important than real-life relationships with family and friends.
  • With tons of availability resources, it can provide for information overload, computer addiction, obsessive playing of on-line/off-line games and computer programming.
  • There is no real method of age verification on social networks, so people and children can easily access it without logging on.
  • Some use the social network as an escape from feelings of loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression and boredom, instead of searching for more healthy or effective ways like exercising, meditating, and so on.

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Signs of Social Network/ Internet Addiction

Teenagers and most adults are more adept and more likely to use the computer/ internet for networking, school assignments; as such they are beholden to ensure balance between use of the web and other aspects of their lives. There is a need to seek for help when being on the internet is the only thing that makes one happy or gives a feeling of euphoria. It is also disquieting if one loses all sense of time and, or is extremely irritable when interrupted online. There should also be concern if any physical symptoms like dry eyes or strained vision, sleep distances, black aches, neck aches, pronounced weight gain or loss which could be explained, back and neck aches, severe headaches, or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which occurs with pain and numbness in hands and wrists.

To help, parents should create time for family, friends, sports, reading, music, interactions and treat the internet as a tool. They should talk to their children about underlying issues concerning computer use, while bearing in mind that compulsive computer use can mask deeper problems like, major change, divorce, tension at home, self-esteem issues for children. Even parents who are not computer savvy should view their young adults and teens’ profiles, read safety tips on all social network web sites with them, while reminding them that information posted online cannot be retracted. They should also discuss online privacy and warn about carelessly listing personal information, pictures of house and car for online predators to poach or pounce on.

Caution becomes an important watchword based on the realization that other users’ profiles or claims and age cannot be verified. So interactions are based hugely on fate, since there is no way of ascertaining when people are lying as in when involved in face-to-face conversations. Therefore, all social network users should remember that one cannot be careful enough because of the wider group outreach of the network. We have seen the dangerous precedence of posting things on walls and web cams whereby people have committed suicide, are murdered, prosecuted, bullied, hated or have their safety and, or that of others jeopardized for postings on the social network. Besides, some social network users eventually fall into the dangerous antecedence of equating online friends to real life friends they have known all their lives. Indeed, the initial posting of interpersonal information could eventually lead to the posting of personal information as users are lured into a false sense of comfort. Being on the social network and online can be fun as long as it is used as a communication and information gizmo and handlers remember that nothing online is hidden from other users.

“To help, parents should create time for family, friends, sports, reading, music, interactions and treat the internet as a tool. They should talk to their children about underlying issues concerning computer use, while bearing in mind that compulsive computer use can mask deeper problems like, major change, divorce, tension at home, self-esteem issues for children”

Caution becomes an important watchword based on the realization that other users’ profiles or claims and age cannot be verified. So interactions are based hugely on fate, since there is no way of ascertaining when people are lying as in when involved in face-to-face conversations.

 

Written by Aano, US-based Education Specialist and Contributing Editor at Nowchild Blog.

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Social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on facilitating the building of social networks or social relations among people who, for example, share interests, activities, backgrounds, or real-life connections. The most commonly used social networks are My Space, Facebook which allows people to write...