Survey reveals how social media is transforming relationships and the perils of losing yourself in the world of virtual reality
The proliferation of online social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, among others has allowed us not only to connect, reconnect or be in constant touch with family, friends, and relatives but also opened up new avenues for meeting new and interesting people.
Since the internet has changed the way we communicate and interact with one another, it has become necessary to explore the pros and cons of social media and its effects on our society.
The increasing use of social media has raised concerns among the parents of tech-savvy teens. Meanwhile, the internet and social media have enabled one of the main technological and cultural revolutions in recent history.
Here, we have tried to dissect some of the pros and cons of social networking:
Social networking, in fact, allows us to reconnect with old friends, family members, and help us to connect with people that we meet at various points in our lives, thus bridging insurmountable physical distances. The sense of proximity that people feel by reading comments and seeing pictures on social media is something that had never been achieved before.
Social media has been an easy means to know and learn about socio-economic, cultural, political events and other trends. These platforms are also used for global interaction and establishing friendships with people hailing from divergent backgrounds.
Likewise, some social networks that specialize in dating help people find and contact like-minded individuals who often wind up establishing long-term relationships.
Social media may also have some negative effects.
Despite the fact that social sites make communication easier, these sometimes can have an adverse impact. Sometimes, the validity of the information that appears on these sites cannot be justified. There have been instances of social media being used to spread misleading rumors, information, and propaganda.
Social networking can even be harmful, especially if people become addicted to sites and keep checking them every two minutes. This, in turn, hampers the work or diminishes their productivity.
Another very important aspect is one’s privacy, which can sometimes be put at serious risk. Pictures or videos, once uploaded, are widely circulated. You might have found yourself removing a tag from a somewhat inappropriate picture taken somewhere, at a party, a social gathering or a function. If one of your colleagues happens to be your ‘friend’ on the site, chances are they will see the picture.
Moreover, several studies have revealed that students who tend to be highly active in social platforms tend to struggle in keeping their studies.
A random survey conducted on 200 people by Khabarhub in Kathmandu in the second week of June 2019 showed that nearly 70 percent of people (76 percent teens/adults and 15 percent parents) use social networking sites.
Likewise, 13 out of 15 college-going students interviewed by Khabarhub said they use social networking sites to discuss assignments, while another two said they discuss informative topics.
Meanwhile, some adults were found to discuss their health conditions, share important information, and resources relevant to their studies, while creating strong support networks.
The survey explored people’s overall social networks as well as looked into how these sites and technologies are related to confidence-building, trust, tolerance, social support, and other aspects.
More than 13 percent of the respondents said networking sites isolate people and sour their relationships. Whereas 46 percent of the respondents said they post original photos or videos online, 41 percent reported using the pictures they online and reposting them. The survey also showed how the rise of social media has affected work, studies, relations, and even politics.
Young adults (16 to 29) are the most likely users of social media. Interestingly, 35 percent of social site users are seniors (above 55 years of age).
The survey showed that females were more likely to use social networking sites, compared to their male counterparts. Fifty-eight percent female said they use social media, against 52 percent men.
The survey found a direct correlation between social media users and educational qualification. More than 56 percent of the respondents having a higher educational qualification (college-going students) said they use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etcetera. Those with at least some college experience have been consistently using the social network.
68 percent of the respondents said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to communicate with the members. Likewise, 75 percent of internet users said that they use social sites for information while 23 percent said they use Facebook to make friends.
Teens, Adults, and Parents
The use of social media — from blogging to online social networking — is central to many teenagers’ lives.
The survey found more than 73 percent of teens use the internet. Most of the respondents consider internet/social networking as a venue to share feelings, information, creations, making new friends and interacting.
Sixty-four percent of the teens said they use Facebook, while 23 percent of the respondents prefer Twitter. Twenty-eight percent of the teens said they share their creations online, such as artwork, photos, stories, or videos. The percentage of those aged 13 to 19 who said ‘yes’ to online-bullying is 25.
One-third of adult respondents said their Facebook friends are ‘actual’ friends in contrast to less than a quarter of non-parents’ Facebook friends being ‘actual’ friends.
Parents have had many concerns about their child’s use of social media. They say sometimes they feel uncomfortable about the information/status and pictures posted by their child.
Parents of teenagers tend to be a bit more sensitive about the content that is posted about their child. “Sometimes I get upset with the updates and pictures that my 18-year-old daughter posts on her Facebook timeline,” complains Ms. Durga Shrestha, a school teacher. When she feels uncomfortable about the posts, she asks her daughter to remove such status or photos.
Tika Ram Nepal, a government official, too, has a story to share. “My 24-year-old son keeps himself engaged with Facebook most of the time.” Nepal said he has to repeatedly remind his son to log off from the world of virtual reality.
Though it may be a Herculean task for parents to compete with their kid’s computer or cell-phones, the following could be some useful tips for parents to guide their children.
Setting reasonable rules and restrictions: Restrict your child from using a laptop in his/her bedroom, out of your sight and supervision.
Be proactive: Educate your child about the risks of social networking and using private settings for their online profile.
Remind them to use caution and common sense: Remind your child to think twice before posting comments, pictures, or videos.
Encourage them to balance a social life with face-to-face interaction: Encourage your child to spend ‘face time’ with friends and relatives by spending quality time together. Do not allow your child to play with a smartphone at the dinner table. Instead, draw him/her into the conversation and do your best to keep him/her engaged.
Finally, fine-tune your approach as you work with your grown-up daughters and sons to shape their social networking skills.