The world is becoming increasingly more dependent upon technology, and mediums of online communication are also becoming more vital as a way of life. A vast array of people own a Facebook account, from young teenagers, to business professionals, to people all over the globe; in addition, Facebook now boasts to have an astounding 1.23 billion monthly users around the world. The benefits that Facebook adds to the lives of its users can be seen through these billion people who regularly connect to the world’s top social media site.
Social capital can improve the lives of individuals and society as a whole. In a study done by professionals: Kevin Johnston, Maureen Tanner, Nishant Lallaand Dori Kawalski, Facebook was seen to improve the social capital of its users, specifically for the South African control group used in this study. A greater social capital is seen to enhance one’s physical and mental health, sources of employment, academic performance, juvenile delinquency and economic development. When there is a higher social capital, there is a greater cohesiveness and commitment to collective action, thus creating more positive interactions among members.
In addition, a recent study by Pew Internet & American Life Project showed that Facebook users tend to be more politically engaged. This can be clearly seen in Egypt, as social media was a huge engine in helping activists organize the uprising against the government in 2011. Furthermore, Facebook can reconnect distant friends or dormant relations as well as help maintain current friendships. Thus the Pew Study, written by two Penn professors, found that those who use Facebook typically have more friendships, have more social support, and are more trusting of others. On the other hand, low social capital leads to a greater distrust and social disorder among people in the society.
In the case of teenagers, researchers in the Digital Youth Project study found that social networking helps young people to develop their own self- expression, explore interests, and develop the technical skills they need to become global citizens in the digital age. In addition, social networking sites can enhance self-directed learning and boost independence.
Lisa Tripp, a professor at Florida State University, stated that the usefulness of technical skills is not just used to consume media, it’s also used to produce media for the next generation. She further mentions how writing and commenting on blogs is not just simply stating an opinion online, but it is truly adding to the circulation of culture through online communication.
Social media sites like Facebook can add many benefits to the lives of its users, but many, especially parents, worry about the negative impacts that using Facebook can bring.
However, Monica Villa, founder of theonlinemom.com, expresses her view that people should not take away Facebook but rather should monitor their children’s usage and what they post online.
According to Washington Times Villa says that Facebook is one of the primary ways kids keep in touch with one another and know what is happening in their lives. She suggests that the best way to handle the unforeseen consequences of Facebook for teens is to set rules like any parent would on a playground. That way, it will still give their children enough freedom to express themselves.
To cut out Facebook would be to inhibit the potential benefit gained in social networking and social capital to their lives when using this site. As studies indicate that Facebook will encourage technology skills which will be useful for employment or innovation in the future, Facebook is here to stay.
By Joyce Chu