Using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Linked In, have become a large part of the daily routine for many people. From 8 to 80, generations are flocking to social networks for information, friendship, and even business purposes. Its influence is somewhat ambiguous, and its effects, positive or negative, subject to lively debate. On the positive side, social network connects people to one another, and in a world where we can be so geographically distant from our friends and family, these electronic based means can be a vital way to stay in touch with one another.

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On the other hand however, the burgeoning explosion of social networks has caused many societal problems, including some evidence of damaging influences and actual disruption in relationships. For example, statistically speaking, more than 40% of kids have been bullied in social networks (www.dosomething.org n.d). Clearly bullying is a tremendous problem in schools and can lead to isolation, alienation, and serious psychological issues in young people. Cyberbullying is one of the most unfortunate side effects of internet and social media use among young people. As such, school and parents would be wise to take swift and decisive action to prevent, abate, or punish cyberbullying (www.dosomething.org n.d).

Social networks also provide a massive platform for information sharing, good, bad, or otherwise. People are very quick to publish highly personal photos, videos, and even information, leading one to question “why” anyone would share such intimate details of their life over an widely uncontrolled electronic medium. While this is most likely done to attract interest in and attention to one’s personal life, the potential is that an exponential number of people could end up having access to the same. While photos of what we ate from breakfast or are wearing to school today may seem very benign, there is also the issue of people being able to locate and identify young children, targets for home invasion or theft, and more. For all the good, the social networks can also provide a platform for much that is wrong.

As increasingly reported in the news, identity theft and other personal violations are becoming all too common as a result of personal information as a result of personal and private information floating around on the internet (Risks of Fraud and Identity Theft n.d.). The question then becomes, is my personal information adequately concealed and protected.

Yet another issue with social network use is how we use our time, and whether we are better off as a result of such interactions. Clearly the younger generation uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as means of personal communication. Without these, it is really possible that people would communicate with each other less often. Equally problematic is the fact that users have so many choices and options that are ever-changing (Privacy Online 2014). This leads to lost productivity, non-committal attitudes, and at times, confusion and conflict.

Many people waste time in social networks, and the average amount of time average people spend in social networks is shocking. What is most troubling is the quality of time expending on activities other than social media, versus the time and effort expended on social media related activities. One of the most worrisome aspects of this social media use is the effectiveness of time spent on the internet, and the quality of the information received by the user (Pychel 2008). Are we creating a “Generation F,” as in Facebook, and in the process, are we losing some basic human interaction face to face or even by telephone, in the interim.

While the informational content of social network platforms can be highly valuable and informative, there are downsides as well, as presented in above. Ultimately, the use of social networks is a personal choice and one that really needs to be carefully thought out, filtered in the case of younger users, and balanced with the importance of other forms of communication and information gathering.

    References
  • Cyberbullying (n.d) (n.p). Available from .
    [2 Dec. 2015].
  • Privacy Issues Online 2008 (n.p). Available from . [2 Dec. 2015]
  • Pychel, T. (3 Apr. 2008) “Facebook—a Whole New World of Wasting Time–If you’re serious about procrastination—Facebook!” Psychology Today. Available from . [1 Dec. 2015]
  • Risks of Fraud or Identity Theft (n.d) (n.p). Available from . [2 Dec. 2015].