Social media are domain sites where people in any parts of the world can interact freely, using a mix of online multimedia, such as audios, videos, texts, photos, and so on. With social networking site, as they are oftentimes called, individuals can make and exchange digital or electronic contents as they engage messages, texts, audio, etc online. Because part of human nature is the need to communicate, whenever possible, better and faster, social media has brought a lot of changes in peoples’ lives.
As social media keep rising in demand, individuals and groups continue to embrace them. Because of the user-friendliness of social media, people who seek to belong in a group do so. For some netizens who target a broad range of audience, for various purposes, they paid attention to what they are sharing. Most often than not, people go to media channels that they have proven or referred to as trustworthy. Even when they did not intend to attract other audiences, they have done so and continue to do so. As a result, they have created for themselves groups, circles, and fan pages.
A. Impact of Social Media Among Students
While the report completed “The Wired Generation” by Wade Jacobsen and Renata Forste demonstrates a study that reviews both the positive and negative effects of online interaction on one's social life, there is still some value that can be placed on the practice when it comes to the educational world. For example, instant messaging and online chat options such as Skype give students the opportunity to talk with each other in ways that were once impossible. If students are separated by distance, these platforms can bring them together to talk about a project in an instant. Groups who are studying for online degrees can complete team projects with group meetings with these video chat options. The effect of these platforms are clearly beneficial for the students who need to come together to form groups to get their educational work completed.
Another impact that the growth of social media has had on educational purposes is that many of these platforms are becoming active “sources” for research on particular topics and people. “Youth Engagement in Singapore: The Interplay of Social and Traditional Media” by Marko Skoric and Nathaniel Poor points towards the fact that these outlets are beginning to be used in formal research. Even beyond that, look towards official media outlets such as CNN, Fox News and ESPN use these platforms to verify information that has been released by important personalities. For example, President Barak Obama has an official Twitter account that is used to respond and comment to many of the important issues that affect this country, such as the government shutdown that is the major story in the news.
As Skoric and Poor mention in their content, many of these platforms are becoming vessels for social engagement which is another area that intersects with student life. Many institutions of higher learning are requiring students to participate in some form of service project and social media outlets are another opportunity to help those efforts grow. Some organizations are turning to their capabilities to reach their millions of followers through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media outlets allow users to easily participate with major issues and circumvent the “not having time” response. Now, these platforms allow users to vote and donate with a simple click of the button from their phone. The ability to be “socially responsible” with the click of a few buttons is another way that social media has impacted the world of education.
B. Privacy on Social Media
There are those who might feel as though the lack of privacy is not a huge issue; they like to use social networking despite these dangers. Social networking allows them to access other people's information, learn their likes, interests and relationships to others - this grants these users a feeling of community and satisfaction (Felt and Evans, 2008). Others may also enjoy the corporate aspect of social media privacy issues, since targeted marketing based on their interests and activities leads them to products they might be interested in purchasing anyway. All of these are reasons to accept the current state of privacy in social media.
Despite the fact that social networking draws people into worlds of connectivity, privacy is actually a legitimate and frightening issue. When sites like Facebook place a value on the sheer number of friends you have, it can be easy to let anyone in to see your timeline or messages (Felt and Evans, 2008). Often, the drive to express your daily life through Facebook status updates or tweets can be so great that it can expose information about yourself to anyone who wants to listen. Add to that the option of reporting and "checking in" to wherever you are, and Facebook can literally track you down to where you are at that moment (Livingstone, 2008). This is a dangerous prospect to consider, especially since companies and third-party organizations will often sell your private information and search histories to the highest bidder (Barnes, 2006). While the computer itself may allow you to work and communicate in physical privacy, the actual information you provide, whether inadvertent or not, is still very easy to access (Felt and Evans, 2008).
There are three types of solutions that can be implemented to help keep people's information confidential and identities anonymous - social, technical and legal solutions (Barnes, 2006). In terms of social solutions, the responsibility lies with parents to help regulate children's access to Facebook and other social networking sites - they need to involve themselves more radically with their kids' Internet usage and understand the technology better in order to make themselves available. Schools are also said to play a huge part in keeping this information private - having their own social networking policies for on-site computing helps somewhat by limiting students' access to non-productive sites like social networking services (Felt and Evans, 2008). However, there is more that can be done on the school level towards educating students and social networking users on media literacy through social networking and the maintenance of privacy (Barnes, 2006). Continuing the aforementioned privacy policies is a good idea, but privacy and media literacy courses designed to inform people how their information is used and accessed on Facebook could equip individuals with greater tools to keep themselves safe.
Finally, legal solutions to the privacy problem include initiatives like the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) (Barnes, 2006). This act mandates Internet filters to be placed in school-located computer libraries, which would limit access to social networking sites. However, despite the good intentions of this bill, further action is needed to protect privacy. Given the aforementioned benefits of social networking, complete censorship is not the answer; instead, students must be given the ability to police themselves (Livingstone, 2008). Becoming educated on what can happen to them on social networking, instead of allowing them to find out the hard way, permits them to exercise caution when participating in activities on social networks. This grants the user with a greater level of confidence,as well as the freedom to enjoy the media literacy, interconnectivity, and sociopolitical power that social networking has to offer.
C. Marketing on Social Media
What most businesses do is to create their own websites to attract a wider audience as well as to promote their products. Marketing experts vouch that social media is one of the best ways to generate income because a lot of people are always connected to the internet, the business can get a big boost out of the free advertising it can get from social networking sites. Thus, the more popular a business or a website is, the more income it will generate through advertising. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have millions of active users worldwide and tapping on possible clients from both sites can do great wonders for businesses. Because of this, some business owners are even willing to pay more for a Facebook ad rather than investing on cheaper, but unpopular networking sites.
Keeping the page active with daily postings also helps boost the image of the company, considering that those who are already subscribed to the page can view the business information anytime (Hausman). In the same light, social media is one way for business owners and customers to maintain good relationships. Both can follow each other on social media and post questions and answers that other customers might find helpful or interesting as well. It may be in the form of a question or a blog wherein readers can later post feedback to start meaningful conversations (Hausman). Companies should also ensure to check out what competitors are doing with their online business presence so that they know where else to improve.
D. Social Media Growth and Its Impact in the Middle East
As previously mentioned herein, the growth of social media has impacted on the Middle East in a number of ways. More importantly, the evolution of social media across various countries has made people from these countries yarn for change with regard to their ways of life. Precisely, social media platforms have played a comprehensive role in influencing change (Stewart 10), whereby people have become more empowered than they were before. Worth noting is the fact that social media platforms have provided an avenue in which the people can share ideas pertaining to issues that affect them on a daily basis. Through such sharing of ideas, the people of these countries have become more tolerant despite their ideological differences. Overall, social media has influenced change in the Middle East in that it has empowered them to become more open and tolerate differing points of views held by people of varying ethnic and religious origins.
On another note social media has had an impact on some countries in that it has evolved into a voice for the people of the Middle East. Precisely, people have utilized social media platforms to air their concerns, particularly on issues regarding governance. Certainly, this has enhanced democracy for the people, who in the past have fallen victims of dictatorial regimes. In fact, social media platforms, especially Facebook, and Twitter have contributed to the toppling of regimes that did not address issues jeopardizing the daily lives of people from the Middle East (Nabi& Mary 24). Evidently, new technological innovations and social media platforms have made big contributions in assuring the success of different uprising in some countries. Many at times, these uprising seek to enhance democracy for the people of these countries. This analysis justifies the impact aligned with enhancing democracy that social media platforms have had on populations.
Another notable impact that social media has had on the Middle East aligns with the fact that it has resulted in a slight change in gender roles. Notably, populations emanating from this part of world are conservative in nature. This can be accredited to the fascinating admiration they have on their Islam religion, which divides roles based on gender issues. However, social media platforms have instilled liberal views on these populations and this has resulted in a change of gender roles. Precisely, social media platforms have enlightened people, particularly women. Such enlighten has resulted in the provision of more opportunities for women. This is contrary to the past whereby women were often oppressed and given discriminatory roles. In addition, social media has enlightened Middle Eastern women to become agents of change in their communities. This has resulted in provision of more leadership opportunities for women (Sakr 20), contrary to the past whereby women were not allocated such roles.
Certainly, the growth of social media offers immense opportunities for the growth of businesses across various contexts. Precisely, social media platforms provide viable avenues that enhance marketing of different business ventures. This results in an increase in business revenue, which is in a consequent rise in the economy. With regards to this, different countries in the Middle East have benefited immensely due to the growth of social media platforms. In fact, the economies of different countries such as the United Arab Emirates have grown due to the fact that various institutions running businesses in these countries have and continue to utilize social media platforms to enhance their employee prospects and boost their skill sets (Noor & John 82). Overall social media has impacted the economy of Middles Eastern countries in that it has offered support for various businesses; hence, increasing business profits, which end up supporting the economic growth of these countries.
Social media has offered to us nothing but better and faster ways of communication and transaction, whether personally, interpersonally, business matters, government, etc., because of the timely and convenient mode of viewing, sharing, collecting, storing, and transmitting data. Young individuals and other internet users simply enter the social media that they want to visit. All that they have to keep in mind is some basic understanding and application of protecting personal or group data/information while engaging, buying, or doing other internet transactions. This is because there is what we call identity theft when kids simply give up freely their personal information over the internet. Thus, even when social media provide better and faster ways of communication, privacy online should never be sacrificed at the expense of enjoying one’s moment over the net.
With social media, the gargantuan information seems not enough: from a megabyte of video uploads to tweets. When millions and billions of people across the world share information, some of the recipients are the young generations. They are amazed at the constant influx of information that they want to get. At a mouse click or press on a keypad, they can type their own messages, download photos and videos, and a lot more. When they want to learn something about their favorite celebrities, all they need is to search using Google, Youtube, or like or ask/send friend request. Having said so, what is really important that social media have brought about to people is online presence, learning, collaboration with peers, and a lot more. By means of social media, individuals learn the importance of netiquettes, too. These are nothing but the positive effects of social media when it comes to better communication.
Social media are not simply used to send, upload, download, share, etc. info in superficial ways. When students use their learning apps, whatever their thoughts are about a particular subject matter in school, for instance, can be shared with others within their circle, group, or class. Because of these social technologies, children have come to realize that they learn more and productively. Enhanced learning outcomes through enhanced knowledge sharing has been the key element why kids want to use their electronic devices. Educational learning materials and resources are more colorful, visually stimulating, and engaging.
Individually and/or collectively, peoples’ lifestyles are affected online social media. Around the globe, social media are transforming how people spend their time contributing whatever they know and feel. Personally, they find solace chatting with people online, uploading creations (e.g., images, videos), making online purchases, and performing other electronic transactions. In most cases, there are internet users who access for free online materials and related resources. The worse scenario is when some families spend most of their time apart because of the social media.
Although social media have become tools that brought forth good as well as bad repercussions, their contributions and effects to the world at large cannot simply be undermined. Worldwide, individuals, companies and governments have used the social media to advance their interests and benefit from it. There are those on the other side of the global spectrum where social media mostly often used to generate much profit whether legitimately or not. Even individuals, in their own home space, benefit from social media one way of another. It is up for anyone whether they will use these media for their own benefits or to take into account how each of us, in our own little ways, help other people.
Despite anything contrary to the negative effects of social media, social media remain part of people’s everyday lives. However, parents, guardians, teachers, and other adults ought to guide younger people what contents to view or not given their delicate moral, social, spiritual, physical, etc. development. Because the world we live becomes smaller each day, it is just fitting that, with enhanced technologies and newer forms of social media, children should be the first to come in mind when it comes to online privacy, safety, security, and protection . Thus, whether social media have positive or negative impact on children and teens, adults should make it a point that, as members of a constantly evolving global community, whatever is shared or to be shared should be mostly worthwhile. This should be the rule rather than the exception. At the end of the day, we can still say with confidence that, despite the negative impact social media have on us, it nonetheless brought us closer together in a world that needs positive interconnectivity.
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