Date Submitted: Social Networking: Benefits and the Possibility of Addiction Social Networking has become a phenomenon in recent years. With huge advancements which have been made in technology and the decreasing costs of owning personal computers, the idea of social networking has become an increasingly popular and widespread concept…
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When the social media site Facebook was launched in the early 21st century, it was joined by an array of other similar sites such as Twitter and MySpace. The initial purpose of these sites was to provide a free technical platform which users could join and interact with their friends (and meet new ones) on a global scale (Nations). Engaging in instant message and photo exchange, as well as the exchange of other media such as videos, files, music, web links and images, was seen as an effective way to communicate with friends and this appealed primarily to teenagers and young adults. Features such as setting up your own ‘profile’ page was and is of particular appeal to this demographic. It is a way to identify and introduce yourself, by describing your interests, personal tastes, likes and dislikes in a fun and simple manner. The concept of ‘friends’ also took on a new meaning as more and more people ‘added friends’ to their profile despite the fact that many would have not met or engaged in any contact with each other previously. Scrolling through other friends social media pages, photos, friends lists and statuses (regular updates describing feelings, actions, ideas or thoughts) is another beneficial and popular feature of social networking as it enables an instant update and serves as a means of personal expression. Other advantages of social networking sites surround the speed of information exchange. Text messages and other media are transmitted instantaneously and this has obvious benefits in a variety of ways. This can help in getting immediate answers, conveying important information, and even educating people on any subject. New ideas and concepts can be promoted using social networking sites and Facebook in particular, via the ‘like’ feature. This enables members to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ something based upon their opinion of it. The more ‘likes’ something receives, the more publicity it gets. Charitable organisations and new ideas or causes can really benefit from this as it is a means of instant and free marketing for causes which may not have otherwise been advertised successfully. The educational benefits of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have been thoroughly researched. In 2008, the University of Minnesota investigated the educational aspects of these sites by researching the internet usage of students aged between 16-18 years over a period of six months. The researchers found that the students themselves asserted that they learned a lot in areas of technology, creativity, communication and different perspectives on many ideas, as a result of using social networking sites. “Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content and thinking about online design and layout. They're also sharing creative original work like poetry and film and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. The Web sites offer tremendous educational potential" (University of Minnesota). Other research in the area of educational benefits of social networking has been carried out globally, including a study in China in 2011. Researchers engaged in discussions with students with a view to understanding the experience of social networ
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