What is the problem of social networking?

The main source of most of the problems with regard to social networking, is due to the users lack of understanding. Do all of the over 600 million users of Facebook know that the site actually conducts scientific research to try and make the site as compelling and addictive as possible? Or that the site takes multiple screenshots of each profile every hour to store forever? Laura Kinoshita, collector of this information, projects the idea that few people actually know to the full extent how social sites use your personal information. Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighbourhood subdivision. It is most unknown that this networking can also take place in person, as it is most commonly associated with being online, this leads to the idea that we are spending too much time behind a screen instead of in front of faces.

Social networking is the essential foundations to building relationships and communicating. This communication is what makes us human, however not only can online networking diminish our people skills, the misuse and abuse of social sites can have serious side effects. These side effects are becoming more and more frequent amongst the waves of generations. In the modern day, these generations are growing up with social networking as an integral part of their lives. The youth of today are becoming reliant on their mobiles, and sites such as Facebook and Twitter to keep ‘up-to-date’ with their worlds. There is a huge misconception that once deleted, posts are forever removed. Facebook in particular, keeps a record of everything, which can be a potential threat to individuals futures regarding universities and job recruitment. Although it is claimed that while they are brilliant inventions for communication, an info-graphic from letterbox provides the statistics that fifty percent of teens online only use the sites to observe others.The worry is that if the average teen spends five hours a day on social sites, fifty percent are spending this time obsessing over others lives.

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This obsessing sets the grounds for cyber-bullying. The topic, which no one is stranger to, is often neglected, even though ninety-three percent of teen Facebook users have witnessed online cyber-bullying according to letterbox. The cruel reality, is that bullying doesn’t stop when they get home from school, social networking means the victim is inescapable from the bullying. The string of suicides and self-harm traced back to cyber-bullying have attracted the media’s attention in many cases, Ann Sedwick, killed herself at the age of twelve after being bullied by a group of up to fifteen of her peers and Chelsea Clark took her own life at thirteen years of age after being hounded on sites such as Ask fm and Formspring. The option of anomoylity of sites such as Ask fm, allows individuals to be targeted and abused with no way of defending themselves, and although the possibility of this occurring is more than clear, teenagers still create these ‘bully-me’ accounts. Most adults in the UK either have never heard of Ask Fm, or know very little about it, and yet over half of its 65 million users are under eighteen, and so far it has allegedly led to nine suicides.

This on top of the basic antisocial tendencies of social sites, cannot be justified. The mass of information we are bombarded with daily regarding the distressing realities of the internet, may mask the real issue. Do we have a misunderstanding of the ‘social-media generation?’ It could be argued that we are condemning these sites and their risks to the extent that it is becoming embedded in teenagers minds that this is all it is good for. As a result, that is all they subconsciously end up using it for due to lack of information of how to make it beneficial. The rapid improvement and development of technology is unavoidable, so why not try use social networking to the their advantage? The benefits are often disregarded, letterbox states that whilst enhancing essential skills such as technological proficiency, collaboration and creativity, fifty-two percents of teenagers claim it also strengthens relationships.

Social networking also allows businesses to be able to improve their recruitment and employees, to be able to shape an applicant into more of a person rather than a form with grades and past experience on. However, many benefits can be taken from social networking, the reality is that the negatives heavily outweigh the positives, and in the end it is driving people to lead unsociable lives. Social networking is undoubtedly commendable in forming relationships, but these relationships are often insecure and unsafe. The provision of a wider communication base allows internet users to connect with others with similar interests in just a matter of clicks. It is known to reunite lost family members and friends, one reunion was between John Watson and the daughter he had been seeking for 20 years. They met after Watson found her Facebook profile, which is life-changing to the two.

A relatively new phenomenon is online dating, via sites such as match.com and uniformdating, which actually allows the user to narrow an individual down to their likes and dislikes, and connect with them. For the frugal minded person, online dating saves you a lot of money as there are no costs of dates, and it gives both people the ability to pace the relationship how they want. But, is this a real relationship? It could be argued that social networking is diminishing humans basic nature to communicate, and the confidence to engage in conversation. One physiologist calls it the ‘paradox of choice’, it says that when you become overwhelmed with choice and end up focusing on the superficial differences, sculpting a shallow individual.

The popular television show ‘Catfish’ puts the dangers of online relationships into perspective, as the host reveals the true people behind false profiles, and how this can have a mental effect on a person. Even if relationships are not internet based, ‘over 60% of people on social networking sites use the resources available to stalk their ex’s’ according to Emzplace’s blog on weebly, this suggests that while social sites can form relationships, they can also damage them. Wikipedia states how news stories have suggested that using Facebook can lead to higher instances of divorce and infidelity. Overall, these relationships lacking natural intimacy are warping people’s ability to form real relationships, because in the end you do not know who is behind the screen. After establishing how social networking can affect millions of social lives, as peoples real lives are merging with social networking more, the issue of how it is affecting people’s health is being brought to light. Most teenagers, and alarmingly a growing number of adults, would be able to relate to the idea of being obsessively dependent on their mobile, where all their social sites they are reliant on take the form of apps.

Unflattering labels such as ‘internet junkie’ and ‘Facebook addict’ are all used to categorise individuals into a health issue known as Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). Traits behind this disorder include low accomplishment levels, excessive computer or phone use and loss of time. Given statistics that on average 8-18 year olds spend more than 53 hours a week on social sites from kff.org, it isn’t hard to believe that disorders such as this can develop. The worrying issue is the damage this is doing emotionally. Many adults claim that there consumption of alcohol and substance abuse is linked to their Facebook profiles.

A study from wikipedia states that 35.7% of underage college students displayed alcohol on their profiles, the reasoning for this could link to wanting to ‘look cool’, but overall it makes them more susceptible to larger amounts of alcohol being consumed in the future. Does the positives of social networking outweigh the negatives? The inevitability of these sites, which are essentially million-dollar business targeting their market, means that there is no way to diminish their growth. However, the serious dangers and crimes that occur as a result of these sites can be limited as awareness can be spread, especially amongst the younger generations as they are most vulnerable.The imminent presence of social networking cannot be avoided.

Although, with better knowledge of what these companies want to achieve by targeting their ideal demographic audience, at least the users will be aware that social networking is not about improving the world, and more about money and profits!