Table of Contents
- Advantages of Social Networks
- Disadvantages of Social Networks
- Influence on people in the future
- Data Collection and Analysis
This research report has answered the questions i.e. what is social network? What are the advantages and disadvantages of social networks? How social networks will influence on people in the future? The research report will specify in the fields of education and business, which are two of the most important fields in the modern world, as parts of advantages of social networks. On the other hand, the report will highlight the major problems of today world such as online crime and addiction to social networks as primary disadvantages. Besides, there are analyses and predictions concerning with the dominance of social networks and how they will influence on people in the future.
The main reason for choosing this research topic is because my interest lies in that field. Besides, I am intended to specify my study in telecommunication engineering, which is a branch of my major study, electrical engineering, at the University. Internet can be said as the base of telecommunication systems and social networks are extensions of the internet. For all these connections and reasons I chose the topic in the question.
1.1 What is a social network?
“A social network is a social structure made up of a set of actors (such as individuals or organizations) and complex set of the dyadic ties between these actors” (Wikipedia.org)
“Social media is any form of online publication or presence that allows end users to engage in multi-directional conversations in or around the content on the website” (OnlineMatters.com)
“Social media and social networking focus on two-way interactions, between the site (or the person running the site) and the people reading or using it” (Salpeter,2011,p.6)
“Two-way interactions” means that comments are allowed in that blog and there could be interactions between the writer and anyone who give comments.
1.2 History of social networks
1.2.1 Evolution of internet
The internet technology was introduced in the 1960s. The forerunner of the modern Internet was called ARPANET and it was created in 1969 by a worked for the Advance Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in the U.S Department of Defence. Basically, they just wanted to build an electronic communication system that could carry military data without disturbance. In 1971, an engineer Ray Tomlinson, invented the first electronic mail (e-mail) program. Twenty years later, in 1991, British scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, invented World Wide Web and created Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that establish links.
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1.2.2 Development of social networks
Social networks evolved since the internet technology was first developed in the 1960s. One of the first online communities was Usenet, which was created by Duke University graduate students, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis. Usenet was similar to a discussion forum where students can share their opinions and suggestions. In 1984, similar method of online interaction called Bulletin Board System (BBS) was introduced. Later, the emergence of social networks rocketed with the invention of World Wide Web by a British scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, in 1991.
One of the most dominant social networks in the history, Friendster, was founded by Jonathan Abrams and launched in 2003. Along with Friendster, LinkedIn and MySpace also become popular in their respective fields. After 2003, the social networks become so popular that, by the time Facebook was launched in 2006, the Internet users had more than two hundred social networks to choose from. Nowadays, Facebook is regarded as the most successful social network with over 1.06 billion monthly active users, 680 million mobile users, more than 50 million pages and 10 million apps. (April, 2013 data)
2. Advantages of social networks
2.1 Education Field
In the survey conducted by Pew Internet Project’s research, it showed that 67% of online adults use social networks. This data describes the fact that social networks can be used to improve the education of adults and students since they already have certain influence on the learners.
The main advantage is that students can further explore topics that they are interested in by using online social networking since they may have limited resources and time in school. Apart from that, for adults with unique interests, it is not easy to find friends with same interest to chat or discuss with. However, social networks link these people with the ones with same passion, where they can interact with people from different parts of the world.
On the other hand, teachers can take the advantage of studentsâ„¢ social networking abilities to create discussion forums, class blogs and online teaching. Such collaboration between students and teachers, acting social networks as a medium, can help the students gain opportunities to cover knowledge in a wider area and pursue interest.
Schools also use social networks as an intermediate to keep in touch with students. Certain networks such as Facebook, Moodle, Secondlife, Digg and other networks are often used by teachers to connect with students and to hold out-of-classroom discussions.
So, it is quite obvious that several advantages are observed for the impact of social networks on the education field.
2.2 Business Field
Social networking takes place online where people meet and share ideas, recommendations and experiences. So, it is similar to a non-stopping communication with a broad audience through a variety of platform or sites. This is one of the factor that the organizations are interested in social media since they can get different kinds of suggestions and feedbacks from people.
Many companies use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to connect with customers and prospective clients. This leads to a golden opportunity for job seekers to learn more about the organization and easily connect with people who work there. Job seekers can become acquainted with the ones working, through these social media, and once they achieve strong presence on these networks, it becomes feasible to reach the people with the authority to hire an employee.
Different kinds of social networks convey effective ways to find jobs. One can search about the company in Google by simply typing the name of that company. Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare are excellent social networks to be able to interact with the people who work in the organization. If lucky, one can meet with a recruiting agent and have some conversation and discussions which could increase the chance to get the job. Moreover, one’s profile can be distributed on the social networks, which will increase the probability of getting the job. Mariam Salpeter, the founder of Keppie Careers suggests that, “Creating an online presence allows hiring managers, recruiters, colleagues and friends to know more about you, what you offer and what you want. It’s a way to draw jobs to you instead of you spending your time searching the jobs” (Salpeter,2011,p.75)
One of the most important thing to point out the impact of social networks on business field is, social media marketing. By acting social networks as stepping stones, social media marketing can gain a lot of benefits including relationship building, brand building, publicity, promotions and so on. So, it can be concluded that social media marketing proposes several opportunities for entrepreneurs, small businesses, midsize companies and large corporations to build their brands and business. (Gunelius,2011)
3. Disadvantages of social networks
Highlighting the benefits of social networks, it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessarily means that there are no drawbacks in them. Recently, online crime which is also known as Cybercrime, proposes an increasing threat to all the internet users. This includes online sexual exploitation and cyber bullying. One of the main problems to eradicate cybercrime is that it is hard to identify the offender and it is almost impossible to keep full-time surveillance in such a wide network.
3.1.1 Online sexual exploitation
One of the most aggressive forms of cybercrime is the online sexual exploitation. This includes sharing pornography, persuading for sex and sex chat. There are over 665000 registered convicted sex offenders in the United States of America, according to a study commissioned by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This means that one in every seven kids has been approached by a sexual predator online. That is 13% of children who use the internet.
Moreover, the Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM) mentioned that the average sex offender offends for 16 years before he is finally caught. In that life span, he has committed and average of 318 offenses and violated 110 victims. Regarding these data, it can be clearly seen that online sexual exploitation has been destroying the lives of children who use social networks. (Hoffman,2012)
3.1.2 Cyber bullying
Cyber bullying is different from face to face bullying as the bullies cannot be identified easily and they have sense of security that convinces them they won’t get caught. Not knowing the harm that they caused to victim, the bullies do not feel any guilt or empathy.
Cyber bullying is also a form of cybercrime which include different branches. The most common type is called harassment, where the abusive and insulting messages are repeatedly sent to the victim. Other kinds of cyber bullying such as flaming, denigration, impersonation, outing, trickery, and exclusion are also found in the world of social networks. The most crucial way is called cyberstalking which fuel up harassment with significant threats and creates fear.
Please refer to Appendix 4 for different forms of cyber bullying.
3.2 Addiction to social networks
Social networks, being used as a form of assistant in the field of education, also show negative impacts on students. One of these impacts is addiction to the networks. A survey done by the University of Maryland’s International Center for
Media & the Public Affairs (ICMPA) showed that people under the age of 25 have more chance to addict social networks and two-third of the students who use social media have already shown some addiction. Fifty percent of people between the age of 25 and 35, admitted that they are so attached to social networks that they even use them during office hours. Besides, children can also become attached to social media, if there is no parental guidance.
4. Influence on people in the future
4.1 Positive Influence
Apart from the negative aspects of social networks, there are some occasions that they can influence people’s lives positively in the future. One of these influences is that people will obtain more convenient ways of living. Holding meetings and discussion forums using social networks will make time for the busy business-men to spend more time with their family.
Online shopping will reduce the time consuming of housewives, when they can do other house chores. Moreover, students can have online learning days where they can interact with people from different parts of the world and share their ideas and debate issues.
The next fact is that social networks will help people to be able to keep in touch with the developing world. This includes sharing latest news, stock share prices and gold prices. Since social networks become available on mobile phones during these days, people will always be informed with the current news of the world.
Last but not least, some experts of social networking want to advance it to the stage of communication where it can replace telephone. So far, social networking sites such as Google, Facebook and Skype became major media for oversea communication.
Scientists of social networks believe that they can create new communication technology that could possibly replace mobile phones in the future.
4.2 Negative Influence
Although the social networks can conduct many positive influences, they impose negative ones at the same time. The major drawback is that people may start to lose physical communication and interaction in the real world. For example, two people become best friends online but they do not talk to each other in the real world. Besides, there will be no conversation between partners in the job as the systems are computer control and they can communicate by simply typing some words in chat box.
The second influence is the case of students and children. While students can gain knowledge when they use social networks, they can also face with threats and online hazards. Most people believe that cyber crime rate will increase in the future as the criminals can manipulate different ways and methods of crimes in such a world with over 300 social networking sites.
On the other hand, there is possibility that people, especially between the age of 15 and 25, will become more addicted to social networks in the future. Moreover, since social networks start to focus their websites on entertainment and business commercials rather than on education, people may spend more of their time on the networks instead of reading or doing physical exercises. Spending over time on social networks is not favourable to health also because when one is using the networks, he or she is doing nothing but sitting in front of a screen or lying on a sofa.
5. Data collection and analysis
5.1 User statistics
According to a survey conducted in 2013, Facebook is the most successful social network, obtaining 67% of internet users. Twitter and Pinterest, which stand at second and third positions, have 16% and 15% of users respectively. The researches and surveys describe that women are more attached to the networks than man do. Besides, the researches point out that people between the age of 35 to 44 are most likely to use social networks. This is followed by the age group of 25-34 and 0-17. People over 65 have the least potential to use the networks.
5.2 Mini-survey results
To be able to observe accurate and latest data, I conducted a mini-survey which included 100 people, varying age between 15 and 35, from different parts of the world. This survey contained telephone interviewing, emailing and paper distribution. (Please refer to Appendix 3 “Survey on Social Network”
After analysing all the answers and data, the result came out that 75% of people use at least one kind of social networks and 25% of them use two or more. Among those who use social networks, 20% of people use less than one hour and the remaining use more than two hours per day. They do not usually use two hours straight away. Instead, they check their profiles on networks while going to school or job, having lunch and going back home. Integrating these times with the actual time they use the networks, probably during their leisure hours, the result came out to be two hours per day or more.
Most people assumed that being in touch with friends and receiving information as a benefit while they regard low security in privacy and online bullying as major drawbacks. In weighing the advantages and disadvantages, 65% said using social networks is advantageous while the remaining percentage believed that there are more disadvantages to encounter with.
However, most people, about 80%, said that they enjoy with their current usage of social networks since they are like tools to refresh their mind after working for a long time or to browse around when they feel bored.
After analysing all the advantages and disadvantages of social networks, the organizations which specify their interest in social media, came up with several recommendation concerning with the usage of social networks.
Firstly, parents must check their childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s profile regularly and explain about cybercrimes. This will make children to be familiar with the ways of approaching of cyber predators and parents can take precautions for their children.
Secondly, one should not accept friend requests if the person is not an acquaintance in the real world. Besides, one should not share personal information such as address, telephone number and email address in social networking sites.
Lastly, if someone is bullied or harassed, he or she should report to the authorities of respective social networking sites and contact police when serious threats are made.
Friedman ,L. (Ed.). (2011). Social Networking. Greenhaven Press, Gale/Cengage Learning.
Gerdes, L. (Ed.). (2009). Cyber Crime.Greenhave Press(CA).
Guneliu, S. (2011). 30-Minute Social Media Marketing: Step-by-step Techniques to Spread the Word About Your Business: Social
Media Marketing in 30 Minutes a Day. McGraw Hill Professional.
Hillstrom, L. (2010). Online Social Networks. Farmington Hills, MI. The United States of America
Kiesbye, S. (Ed.). (2012). Cyber predators. Gale Group.
Rogers, V. (Ed.). (2010). Cyber Bullying. London, UK and Philadelphia. Jessica Kingsley.
Salpeter, M. (2011). Social Networking for Carer Success (1st ed.). LearningExpress, LLC.
Social network. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network
Social networking site use by age group
This is a survey done by Pew Research Center, showing the usage of Social Networking Site by age group from 2005 to 2012.
This is a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in the late 2012. The expectations are for the year 2013.
Referring to the survey,
3% of Facebook users say they plan to spend more time on the site in the year 2013.
27% of Facebook users say they plan to spend less time on the site in the year 2013.
69% of Facebook users say they plan to spend the same amount of time on the site in the year 2013.
Mini-survey evaluated from 100 random students.
Survey on Social Network
Do you use social networks?
(2) How many social networks do you use?
1 2 3 More than 3
(3) How many hours do you spend on social networks per day?
Less than 1 1 2 3 More than 3
(4) What benefits do you gain from social networks?
(5) What, do you think, are the disadvantages of social networks?
(6) Do advantages outweigh disadvantages?
(7) Do you enjoy using social networks?
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