Whether shopping at a mall or out for a fancy dinner, people are always looking at the small screen in their hands. It might seem as if they are not interacting with others, but in reality, they most likely are. They are communicating with friends, acquaintances and even strangers and build relationship through social media. It allows people to do things that they have never done before.
Social media allows individuals to experience new things, and also can give comfort in tough times especially when someone loses a family member.
Another benefit is that social media allows people to form social groups that they would not be able to do otherwise. Such communities enable people to network for jobs. Many people and organizations, including schools, use social media as a networking tool.
At the Lorain County Joint Vocational School, social media is used to connect students with experts in all fields. “For example, girls in the building trades programs can find mentors in a social network group called Women Build Nations. This kind of networking leads to retention for under-represented groups,” said LCCC student Megan Champagne. This ability to network and connect with role models allows “us to find better opportunities that support future plans.”
Social media is very helpful, said Jonathan Miller, an Engineering major and former Networking and Communication Technologies student at LCCC. “It depends on how social the person is. Me for instance, I still get out and meet people. It gives me easy access to people’s lives and learn what they like to do.” He is also one of thousands of students who use LCCC’s eLearning system “Canvas”, which allows students to interact from anywhere in the country, share ideas, and collaborate on projects.
People never feel truly alone when on social media. Sometimes, these communities offer more practical help. “During disasters, most citizens respond constructively by bringing as much information and as many resources as they can to bear on the problem of how to cope with an incident,” according to an essay titled “Application of Social Media in Crisis Management Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications” authored by Babak Akhgar et al.
“During the terror attacks in Paris in November of 2015, citizens used the twitter hashtag #porteouverte (open doors) to seek and provide shelter to each other, so that individuals caught out in the open in affected neighborhoods could get off the street and out of danger.” These communities can help in a number of different crises, whether personal or shared.
While social media can help communities and individuals in crisis situations, it can also be used to help build communities by driving social change. Social media is such a large platform that allows the user to reach many different people.
Though social media tools provide quicker and easier communication, they also have drawbacks. They are enormously addictive. Within a span of one year, the usage of social networking sites has grown by 566 percent, according to a study titled “Online Social Networking and Addiction- A Review of the Psychological Literature” written by Daria Kuss and Mark Griffiths .
Their study also found that the amount of time spent by the participants on Facebook has increased to over five hours of use a day. Outside of the study, Jonathan Miller has admitted that depending on his daily schedule, he spends between one and six hours per day on a social platform. The studies had more conclusive results in Asian countries, but given said results, the disorder appears to affect around 12.9 percent of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19.
Many people might say that the use of social media gives them a sense of belonging, and makes them feel less alone, unfortunately in recent years the rate of cyber bullying has grown to affect 25-30 percent of adolescents; the bully, bullied or both. Cyber bullying has proven to leave long term emotional scars, with some young people committing suicide as a means of escape.
Those at a higher risk of developing psychological disorders from a young age are also more likely to encounter their disorders at an earlier age and at a higher severity than those who avoid social media and cyberbullying all together. With a proven link between mental health issues and bullying over media, some countries, including the United States have made it a legal offense to do harm over the internet, according to an article titled “The impact of social media on society” authored by Jacob Amedie.
“Facebook Depression” is a relatively common issue among avid users of social media platforms. According to Jacob Amedie, with the intensity that is paired with seeking social acceptance, it is to be understood why many people, especially adolescents, have an increase in these depressive and anxious behaviors. Miller has also stated that the only issue he ever has with social media is when “people take things too seriously; when they get offended easily.” This shows yet another way how pressure to be heard and respected on the internet can be a lot to handle for young influential minds.
Critics of social media argue that it makes crisis worse by allowing people to share their photos and videos that make people afraid or angry. When people share images or incendiary information, it is possible for it to have a negative effect. Such sharing can drive emotion, which makes a bad situations worse. This effect is even more dangerous for authority figures and organizations.
“Crises may be triggered or exacerbated by images or audio documenting apparent misbehavior or incompetence on the part of responsible authorities, according to an article titled “Application of Social Media in Crisis Management Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications” written by Babak Akhgar et al.
However, these issues can be solved when authorities use social media in a proactive way.