Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Use (Or Abuse) Of Social Media

Statistics show that social networking dominates our time spent online. Sites that are frequently used are Facebook and Twitter, and having an account on both these websites, I can confirm that those are the websites I spend the most time on. Today there are more than 800 million active users on Facebook, and no less than 1 billion tweets are posted per week. But why have these sites become so popular, and what are the pros and cons of them? Although these sites can be really time-consuming, I cannot picture myself not having a Facebook account. This is quite a scary thought, but it has actually become a big part of (especially) teenagers’ lives. To illustrate this point, I was shocked when an adult relative recently asked me “How do I add people on Facebook?”

Image from Google. Why do you use Facebook?
I think one of the main reasons people use Facebook is to read the recent updates, create a network, keep in touch with friends, see and be seen. You wouldn’t want to miss seeing the funny picture your friend posted, or the other friend’s changed relationship status. You want to avoid having the feeling you get when a group of people are talking about a TV show you have never seen.  No one likes to feel excluded, and I am convinced that the majority of teenagers joined Facebook because “everyone else was there”.  I remember when I was younger; although no one ever mentioned it, everyone knew that it was important to have a lot of friends on Facebook, even if this meant adding people you had only met once, and not really spoken to. Luckily things are not like that anymore, and most people have understood that the website can be a great way to learn new things as well. 

Another thing to remember is that a big part of what is written on Facebook is unnecessary information. But it is important to add that Facebook and Twitter can also be used for other things, such as taking part in interesting discussions, and reading posts written by politicians. A lot of people find it exciting and fun being able to participate in debates, and have other people read your thoughts and opinions. It has become a platform where we, as consumers, can read about what companies are working with, and what they are selling. Like I’ve written on my blog, the social media is a great place for companies to market their products, without any costs. The best way to reach the young target group is not through newspapers, TV or radio, but through social media.

Like lecturer Cecilie Staude talked about in her presentation, one should always keep in mind and take into consideration that anyone can read your posts, and you should never post offensive things. The same goes for pictures that could get you in trouble in the future, for example when you start looking for a job. If a person already has a job, posting inappropriate things can lead to negative consequences if your boss sees it. You’d think this was common sense, but there have been situations where people of higher authority have posted statuses on social media, that they have gotten in trouble for.

Whether Facebook should be used and allowed in school, I am not sure. As mentioned, it can be very time-consuming, and if you lack self-discipline it might give you difficulties with paying attention in class. However, having reached the age of 17, we should be able to control the use of social media during lessons (if we are not supposed to use them). In addition to social media perhaps negatively affecting your concentration, it might decrease your motivation when working with tasks in class, and result in you wasting valuable time where you could have been working.

Image from Google. Do you think the computer makes you unfocused in class?
Some teachers are strictly against the use of social media in class, and I think it would definitely take some time for them to adjust if the rules were changed, but that is beside the point.  My point is that instead of closing the internet and forbidding the use of social media in class, permitting the use of social media could cause an opposite effect on the students.  When taking away the opportunity we have of checking our Facebooks, we are immediately more tempted to do so. When letting us do as we want, the temptation is removed, and we won’t feel that urge anymore. By doing this, the teachers are also giving the students more freedom, and the chance to show responsibility. If a student fails to do so, the student should realize that his or her bad grade might have something to do with the lack of interest and attention they have paid in class. I am convinced that this is a great way for students to learn self-discipline, and that it is our own decision based on our values and goals, whether we want to learn or not. 

To sum it up, Facebook and other types of social media have positive and negative sides, and can be used for different purposes. I think Facebook is fun, and I mostly use it to read about what my friends are doing, look at pictures, and chat. Sometimes my parents suspect that I never do my homework, and waste too much time on social media. This is where they are wrong.  I think that a lot of teenagers nowadays are multi-taskers like me, and often I’ll discuss homework with others through these social media. While it may be true that I also do waste some time on these sites, there is a saying by John Lennon that goes like this “Time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted.”


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