Facebook has approximately 500 million users, each with an average friend base of 130 people, but is this new technology really a friend or foe for society? People are staying connected, in a sense, to more people than they ever have before. Photo sharing and status updates happen every second of every day. There were 250 million people logged in each day of 2013, with 700 billion minutes per month spent on the site. With so much time spent logged in and on the internet the question would arise as to how much time is spent with friends and family in real life.
Sitting down to dinner with family or going out with friends are among the many activities that generally do not go uninterrupted by cell phones or social network updates. Research on the impact that social networking has on society is relatively new, which is to be expected as these networks and the internet have not been around very long themselves. A Review of Facebook Research in the Social Sciences found that people may have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but only truly interact with a few. The remaining mass of people are merely acquaintances that someone has not spoken to in a long time, or someone who was only known for a short while.
With 700 billion minutes online, a larger number of friends to keep informed on, society today appears to be in constant contact with their media. With more time spent interacting with technology, and less time spent with human contact, the time spent resting the brain is even lower. People are spending more time divided between reality and the virtual world of awaiting updates. While the positive aspect of being connected to more people is appealing, a sense of limiting time spent using social network sites and the internet is needed.
The American Psychological Association reported that FB can have measurable negative effects on studying. Just 15 minutes spent on the site during intended study periods can correlate to a decrease in a students grades. The APA also found that there is an increase in the levels of depression and anxiety in young Facebook users. Other studies have also shown that Facebook use in youth can lead to an overall decrease in mental well being, while older users have less reports of these when using the site. Academic and emotional aspects being changed by a social networking site shows the impact that such technological advances have on humans. With impacts being seen in these areas it is no surprise that advertising companies have taken advantage of the new marketplace. Facebook is definitely a friend to the businessman, even if it is a student’s foe.
There are one million active advertisers on Facebook. These advertisements lead to an estimated two billion connections between local businesses and people. Stimulating flow into existing businesses is not the only positive economic effect of Facebook. Approximately 182,000 new jobs have been created because of the site and other social networking companies. This has contributed a little over $12 billion in wages and benefits to the economy in the United States alone. These jobs and profit come in forms of software development, companies that contribute apps to the site and a variety of other technologically inclined occupations.
Social networking sites, as well as the internet as a whole, have the potential to impact the world in wondrous ways. The potential for business connections, as well as staying in touch with long-lost persons is endless. Introverted youth who may not have ventured into a social circle are given the opportunity to do with these advancements. Positive aspects are present in social networking, as long as it is used appropriately. People, with parents in particular, need to keep in mind that a balance is needed between the virtual world and that of actual reality. Facebook can be a persons friend as long as they keep in mind that the physical world and human interaction is not their foe.
Opinion by Latasha Alvaro
The Daily Record
American Psychological Association