Social media is a world within a world and for those who were born in the 21st Century, technology is only but a natural phenomenon. Cell phones, iPods, and video games are practically inevitable for teens and young adults. Along with these technologies come social media networking, which is part of the daily routine for many. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace have millions of visitors daily. Facebook alone has over 500 million users which make it the most popular social network website on Earth. Research conducted by Facebook shows that 50 per cent of its users are active users who log on daily and spend over 700 billion minutes per month on the site. There is no doubt that social media and social networking are here to stay; however, added to these ‘natural’ luxuries are risks and dangers.
While these sites’ open dialogue allows individuals to express themselves, there must be some amount of user censorship not necessarily by the domain host but rather by individuals themselves. Creating a profile, giving details about yourself, hobbies and educational background are all acceptable; however, for many every aspect of their day, work and lives are posted. Like driving, the users of social media should be cognisant of the five C’s – caution, care, common sense, courtesy and consideration – as many of the things posted can arise in the future to haunt thrones. Only recently, it was observed locally that a number of young persons were posting on social media their intent to resign from their current place of employment. Common sense – one of the 5 C’s – would inform that such information is personal and should not be posted on a social network, as such behaviours can stymie future employment.
What if the situation changed and that person needs to stay at the current place of employment? What if an intended employer does a social media search and sees such uncouth behaviour? It is thought-provoking that an employee can overlook his /her posting on any social networking site and talk their way out of potential employment. It seems as though these consequences are often not in the minds of teens and young adults when they take to the social media world to express themselves. Interestingly, many young persons do not take into account or acknowledge the dangers of such postings on social networking sites since to them, all the social sites seem innocent.
Research has shown one of the greatest impacts of social networking is on the social skills of people. According to a BBC report, while on one hand, social networking sites seem to bring people together and connected; on the other hand, it creates social isolation. Research has shown that older generations of networkers learnt how to communicate and interact long before networking was even a thought, but much of the younger generations do not interact socially. According to the report, social networking has created a serious breach in the ability of young people to communicate and interact with each other.
It is clear that there is evidence suggesting that social networking can be risky to a dangerous extent, but it is an area that cannot be ignored, as it is the driving force of the world today. Like the many pleasures of life, social networking can be beneficial in moderation; however, unfortunately, moderation and the social media world do not coincide in society. As such, all one can hope for is that young people have a deeper understanding and be conscious of what they are posing on social media, taking into consideration its impact today, tomorrow and years ahead.