The Effects of Social Media

Introduction

I will start this article by stating that I am constantly using social media and have accounts on many different forms of social media. However, I decided to deactivate my Facebook a few weeks back and within a day it was activated again. To start this was due to needing to contact people but then I started browsing again and after about two weeks I had started posting again.

I am one of the many people who was raised during the time social media became popular. When I first had access to the internet websites such as Myspace was popular but my personal favourite was MSN; for those who do not know what this is, it was a simpler version of Facebook messenger. As the years went on, mobile phones became more advanced and social apps such as snapchat and Instagram became popular.

Over the past ten years, social media has become a normal part of everyday life. Personally, the first thing I do in the morning is check my social medias. It has recently become obvious that the future generations will not know a life without social media. But what does this mean? How will this effect society as a whole and what are the current effects of social media?

Social Learning Theory

The social learning theory was developed by Albert Bandura in the late 70s and states that a person’s behaviour is learnt from one another. This is done through modelling and imitation (JL,2015). A common occurrence on social media are challenges; these include such things like the ice bucket challenge, no makeup challenge and the Kylie Jenner lip challenge. Although most of these challenges are harmless and are to raise awareness of different causes, some challenges can become dangerous.

One of these challenges is called the fire challenge; in which people will cover parts of their body with flammable liquids and then set themselves alight. It does not need explaining why this is so dangerous. The way challenges receive popularity are by being posted on social media and then challenging friends to do it, then they challenge their friends and so on. (ADE O, 2015)

When we compare the behaviour seen on social media during these challenges and the behaviour linked with the social learning theory we can see some clear comparisons.

Bullying

I grew up in the time when Facebook was just starting to become popular. Before this sites such as MySpace was used; however the generations before me did not have either. Most did not even have access to the internet. When they where younger if there was an issues between two people at school, this would stay at school and by the next day would probably have been forgotten about. However, if an issue is to happen now, people take to social media to post about the other person. This can result in more people getting involved and in time result in a lot worse of a situation.

This can also result in a lot of bullying. Study’s have shown that Facebook is the worst for online bullying, with other 87% of all reported cases being on Facebook (Gayle, 2013). Due to all forms of social media becoming mobile applications, it is becoming easier and easier for people to take part in bullying. In my own personal research, I found that 94% of the people I surveyed access social media on their phones.

Another issues that comes under bullying on social media is rumours. Anyone can post something about someone else that other will easily believe. These rumours can then easily be spread around for more to see.

“Blue Whale”

The blue whale game is a social media game that originated on the website bluewhale.com. This website has since been taken down as it is believed to be the cause of many suicides throughout the world. The basic concept of the game is that the play is sent tasks to do each day and must send a picture once the task has been complete. These tasks gradually get worse until the final task is telling the player to commit suicide.

These tasks include things such as “wake up at 4:30am and watch the sent video”, “carve a blue whale somewhere on you body with a razor” and “jump of a high building”. It is believed that this game has been the cause of over 130 suicides in Russia alone. (Mann, 2017)

This game gained its popularity by being spread over social media sites such as Tumblr and Twitter.

Positives and Negatives

Social media is not all bad. It can be a lot easier to contact people and to stay in contact with people; however it is found that people are more likely to talk over text, then to meet up face to face.

It is also a great platform to share important life event; my husband and I had a small wedding so found it extremely useful to be able to share photographs from the day online with our friends who couldn’t make it. On the other hand, there can be a fine line between what people want to know and what is too much information. Not only can other find too much life sharing annoying, it can put people in danger of fraud or a stranger finding out their location, job, ect.

Social media can also give people the chance to make new friends and meet new people. This is useful for people who may not be able to interact with people face to face, due to anxiety or disability’s. This gives them a platform to express how they feel and speak to people they may not normally interact with. However, you can never be 100% sure who you are talking to. IT is easy to make fake profiles portending to be someone else and fool other people. This has led to “catfishing” and online predators.

Conclusion

I believe that social media, when used properly can be an excellent tool to build and gain friendships. It is when it is taken too far and people use to excessively or inappropriately, it becomes something bad.

 

References

JL (2015) SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY (BANDURA) [Online] Available at https://www.learning-theories.com/social-learning-theory-bandura.html (Accessed: 26/4/2017).

ADE O (2015) 11 Of The Worst Social Media Trends Ever [Online] Available at http://www.thetalko.com/11-of-the-worst-social-media-trends-ever/ (Accessed: 28/4/2017).

Gayle, D (2013) Facebook is the worst social network for bullying with 19-year-old BOYS the most common victims [Online] Available at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2294023/Facebook-worst-social-network-bullying-New-survey-shows-youngsters-targeted-online-else.html (Accessed: 25/06/2017).

Mann, T (2017) ‘Blue Whale’ suicide game linked to 130 teen deaths makes its way to UK Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/04/22/blue-whale-suicide-game-linked-to-130-teen-deaths-makes-its-way-to-uk-6590737/#ixzz4l2ZlsiWj [Online] Available at http://metro.co.uk/2017/04/22/blue-whale-suicide-game-linked-to-130-teen-deaths-makes-its-way-to-uk-6590737/ (Accessed: 25/06/2017).

Research

Appendix 1- Online Questionnaire

What is your age?

Choice Responses Percentage
Below 17 5 26.32%
18 to 24 6 31.59%
25 to 34 7 36.84%
35 to 44 0 0%
45 to 54 0 0%
over 55 1 5.26%

What forms of social media do you use? (select all that apply)

Answer choice response percentage
Twitter 10 52.63%
facebook 12 84.21%
linkedin 9 47.37%
snapchat 14 73.68%
instagram 14 73.68%
tumblr 3 15.69%
pinterest 9 47.37%
vine 0 0%
Whatsapp 11 57.89%
other 1 5.26%

Why do you use social media? (select all that apply)

Answer choice response percentage
information seeking 10 52.63
passing time 14 73.68
entertainment 11 57.89
relaxation 5 26.32
expression of opinions 5 26.32
information sharing 8 42.11
knowing about others 8 42.11
social interactions 12 63.16
other 1 5.26

Do you feel social media has effected the way in which people communicate? (Please explain)

Answer Choice Responses Percentage
yes 16 94.12
  • Somewhat, but it has made it easier to connect with people across the world.
  • Yes! Our children are suffering due to overuse and lack of parenting interaction
  • Yes, it has in a way reduced some social skills or either reduced or increased self confidence.
  • No face to face communication, talking to a screen. People don’t know how to interact face to face anymore and is becoming awkward. Even in restaurants you see couples on their phones rather than looking at each other and talking.
  • People use there phones more than ever and can now easily connect with someone on the other side of the world.
  • mostly in the way we can communicate long distance across many different cultures
  • Less face-to-face more superficial
  • I think it’s difficult for me to converse in an intimate setting because I am just not used to it.
  • Easier to contact people
  • Talk less face to face.
  • Not many people speak face to face anymore and i feel that people are lacking in social and people skills due to social media taking over their lives
  • Some people are now unable to communicate without a screen infront of them
  • People rely heavily on social media to communicate with long distant relatives or to meet new people instead on sending letters or calling someone up.
  • Larger and more diverse audience
  • Has reduced face to face interactions
no 1 5.88%
  • I barely use it, and I mostly use it to browse/gain information or news
i don’t know 1 5.88%
  • The typical debate – face to face vs online

On a typical day, how often do you use social media?

Answer Choice Responses Percentage
Less than 1 hour 2 10.53%
1-3 hours 10 52.63%
4-6 hours 7 36.84%
more than 7 hours 0 0%

How do you use social media? (select all that apply)

Answer Choice Responses Percentage
Contacting people 13 68.43%
Sharing experience 10 52.63%
catching up with trends and gossip 9 47.37%
networking 7 36.84%
to play games 5 26.32%
making new friends 2 10.53%
get now opinions 4 21.05%
video/picture sharing 11 57.89%
other 4 21.05%

How long have you been using social media sites?

Answer Choices responses percentage
Less than a year 0 0%
1-3 years 4 21.05%
4-7 years 7 36.84%
more than 7 years 8 42.11%

How do you access your social media accounts? (select all the apply)

Answer Choices Responses Percentage
PC 6 31.58%
Laptop 9 47.37%
mobile phone 18 94.74%
tablet 4 21.05%
other 0 0%

Do you accept strangers who try to friend you on social networking sites?

Answer Choice response percentage
yes 0 0%
no 12 63.16%
sometimes 7 36.84%

What information do you include on your social media profile? (select all that apply)

Answer choices response percentage
Name 17 89.47%
Address 1 5.26%
Date of birth 10 52.63%
Pictures 17 89.47%
Interests 8 42.11%
contact information 2 10.53%
religion 1 5.26%
other 4 21.05%

Appendix 2- Facebook Group Poll

Question: Do you believe the social media has a positive or negative effect on society?

POSITIVE 1
NEGATIVE 0
BOTH 10
NOT SURE 0
  • I have seen it be a source of support and assistance when people are in need, I have seen it be a place where joyful things are celebrated, I have seen be a source of deep and lasting friendships. I’ve also seen bullying that is hideous, grade-school kind of exclusions and cliques, and people saying things I hope they’d never say in person. It’s a source of news and information, and a source to disseminate that quickly and widely. It’s also a source for spreading lies and misinformation. I think that like many things, it exists in a gray area – depends on who is using it, why they’re using it, etc.
  • I agree with Karin’s points. I would add that social media helps us create communities of people with shared interests (like this group!) as well as helps people stay updated and entertained. It also provides more of a voice to the under represented. For businesses, it provides direct communication with customers and often improves customer service. However, social media has also contributed to the decline in solid news reporting, the rise of fake news and misinformation reporting.
  • Positive because it allows us to interact better with family and friends who you don’t see all the time, it is also an easier way to keep up with someone’s life! It can be negative though because as a young woman (Im about to be 19) I can see how it affects my generation and those younger than me because everyone sees how “perfect” someone else’s life is which can make you feel like your life isn’t as good, when thats not true people just broadcast the better parts of life!
  • On the positive side, social media has given us the ability to connect with a wide range of people with as wide a range of perspectives. This discussion is a case in point. It is also disrupting the concept of advertising. Which is both and bad. As a business tool it is invaluable to reaching your audience in a manner that is both extremely targeted as well as cost efficient. The ROI on a campaign can be measured. Every metric can be analyzed and optimized. On the negative side, it can create an echo chamber. Just as easy as it can be to find different viewpoints, one can easily interact only with those that share their opinions. Also it can be a huge time suck. Really though. We all know what that’s like. Lastly, where the hell does all this data go? Sure it seems harmless now, but what if priorities change? Then what? And the fact that there is no definitive answer to that question is probably the greatest potential negative of social media.

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