Sunday, December 6, 2015

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES – FRIEND OR FOE?

ABSTRACT
There is a group of people in support of the advantages of social networking sites and then there is a few who think that all this is nothing less than a curse to the young generation. Usually, the perspective is in accordance with the age. Our young generation would be in support for SNSs while the more experienced bunch of people like parents, grandparents and all those experienced people around would say that it is somehow ruining their children and their young ones. Everybody has a point of their own. Everyone is correct in a way, but our work is to actually figure out whats happening around, considering all the aspects, how it is affecting people, how is it or can it bring a change to their lifestyle, how can it affect the values, morals of people, how can people be benefitted from it. This article will focus on all the pros and cons of the SNSs and will try to keep a view that should give each one of us a learning because each article has a point or two to prove, so that people could either get some knowledge out of it or learn something from it that could bring a slight change in their perception.
Keywords :- SNS


INTRODUCTION
Social Networking Sites (SNS) can be rightfully called the harbinger of a new revolution in the field of communication. SNSs are online portals that encourage development of offline relationship among the users. The basic aim of these societies is to connect people from all around the globe and unify ideas and conversations. It unites people with common interests and occupations through their individual public profiles on these sites. But now the usage of SNSs has become more of a compelling rather than useful activity. Users feel bound to keep updating about their social and personal lives. 
There is always a debate on what all activities involving behavioral change should be termed as addictions or necessities. In a research, any behavior featuring the six core components of addiction (silence, mood-modification, withdrawal symptoms, conflict and relapse) is considered to be addictive behavior. Off late, social networking has become the primary topic in such debates. There is constant disagreement on the resourcefulness or needlessness of SNSs and its impacts on the modern day world. 
It is an imperative fact that social media is turning into mass addiction among people of all age groups, especially youngsters. In accordance with etiology of addictions [4] and the syndrome model of addiction [5], it is believed that people suffering with addiction to SNSs face similar symptoms and anxieties as people suffering from other addictions like substance abuse. But the treatment and therapy in these two cases differ vastly. In case of virtual world addiction, the aim of medical practices will not imply the absolute withdrawal from social networking but the minimized and justified use because social networking is the culture of the modern world for professional and social obligations and requirements. 
Recently Turel and Serenko [6] theorized three primary suggestions explaining the development of addiction to Social Networking Sites. These theories often exist in over-lapping manner, i.e. may or may not occur together:
Cognitive Behavioral Model: It states that excessive cognitive behavior which is unsuited to the current social and environmental conditions might lead to withdrawal from real world and escaping to the virtual SNSs. This eventually leads to addiction and users might not be able to revert back to the normal form. 
Social Skill Model: This Model offers that often users lack self-confidence and social presentation and communication skills. Due to this, they find it easier to indulge in online communication rather than face-to-face confrontations. This amplifies their problem and social skills begin to deteriorate resulting in excessive reclusive behavior and thus addiction to SNSs. 
Socio-cognitive Model: This states that SNS addiction might also be caused due to high suppositions of positive outcomes of the use of social networking, arising out of the belief that it might help built better offline relationships and better social standing. Lack of regulatory and controlled use then leads to rather negative outcomes. 
In a nutshell, the transformation of social networking from useful to destructive media occurs when the users treat it as a refuse from seclusion, depression and boredom. It is both an outcome and cause of poor social skills. It is a convenient way to avoid unwanted situations and interactions in real life and build a virtual efficacious image that would invite better offline relationships as well.  When the users get continuous desired results, social networking develops from a mere necessity to an excessive addiction. They often lose their individual communication skills in the real world while working on their virtual rapport with people. Trivial as it may seem, this problem might engulf their life in a negative way, leading to conflicts and in the gravest of all situations it might as well become a life crisis. Continuous mood swings, uncertain thoughts, and desire to divulge back to the virtual world as a form of escape. At this stage it turns into a vicious cycle of uncontrollable addiction.  
SNS addiction is no different from paradigm addictions like substance abuse. Therefore, the symptoms and behaviors are also quite similar. Addiction to the usage of SNSs results in withdrawal from the real world after it forms as a habit; relapse to the virtual realm becomes inevitable. In many cases, users become averse to intrusion and experience increased frustration and irritation levels. They form an emotional connect and any situation that threatens this link disturbs them. Over time, the usage of SNSs only increases leading to accustomed tolerance. So any restriction and halt in their regular course social networking causes anxiety, physical and emotional changes. More often than not SNS addiction becomes a reason of conflict between the user and their family.
Even though SNS addiction has made its way as an imperative topic of discussion of likewise debates, the research in this field has been relatively less. It is widely claimed that a number of social, behavioral and environmental factors influence the use of social networking sites but no equally evident and widely accepted research has been done for the matter. However, whatsoever research has been done can be easily divided into four main categories: self-perception studies, studies based on social-networking addiction scale, examining relationship between social networking and other online addictions ( for instance gaming), studies linking SNS to interpersonal relationships. But most of these studies lacked one basic approach. All of these cover the theoretical assessment of SNS addiction but the pathology and practical analysis remains unidentified. Mere theoretical assessment is not enough to reach the root of the problem hence a paradigm shift in the approach is highly recommended. Most of them are gender-specific, basic and sparse to be of any real use. Difference is not made between addiction and usage. Due to these the addiction rates get inflated as the research mostly covers youngsters ignoring the other half of the society.
More than half of social networking relates to the very popular trendsetter site Facebook. It was probably the first one in the league to have such a wide reach and now it covers generations of users irrespective of any factors. Many researches are thus concerned only to Facebook addiction as it is considered the bigger part of social networking addiction and the focus thus shifts from the base. 
However, Facebook is a diverse website where many activities can be performed. It is not only confined to chatting and connecting with people, but playing online games like Angry Birds, Candy Crush etc. Users can watch videos, read articles and go through numerous pictures through Facebook itself. But Facebook addiction is distinct from social networking addiction in general. Also, Facebook addiction has many facets. For instance, a person might be just addicted to playing games on Facebook rather than the core activity of networking. Hence it gets differentiated from general social networking. 
There exist numerous definitions of social networking addiction depending upon the usage scale considered. However the fact that this is now a common debatable problem leading to severe consequences cannot be ignored. The existing facts and scales have potential improvements and modifications tending to the method and approach. This can differentiate between various categories of social networking and its addiction in order to arrive at comprehensible and useful conclusions, even for medical sampling and research. In such a way loopholes in the current studies can be eliminated and precise work can be examined.
INESCAPABLE USAGE OF SNS
This are endless advantages that can be discussed but nothing is observant until there are statistics to prove it. This section will look up to the major advantages where people made real use of SNSs for their benefit.   
1) CRIMINAL RECOGNITION
a) The ten most dangerous and ten safest cities were analyzed within 50km radius in the USA using Twitter [1]. A subtle keyword search technique was used where people using words like gun, kill, crime in their tweets were tracked and stored in the database. The analysis took place for a period of 21 days which resulted in stockpiling around 100,000 tweets in the database. 
b) In the year 2011, the NYC department of police used Twitter to track criminals [2], who wrote incautiously about their crimes in their tweets. In this incident, some angry fans were involved in an uproar in the streets as well as in stealing. The local authorities caught them by tracking and tagging the people involved.
c) The UP police in India shared an image on Facebook, which stated not to believe any rumor, image, video clipping shown on any of the SNS namely Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Whatsapp. The creator of such pseudo information were worked upon.
Figure 1: Message shared by UP police [7]

2) IMPACT OF ADVERTISEMENTS
45% of the Facebook users find SNS that promotes brands and products are useful [3]. These promotions tend to give users information about respective products and services which allows users to compare and choose product or service according to their suitability. Advertisements in SNSs benefit organizations if there is systematic way of bringing the right type of product or service to the right type of people.
3) JOB OPPORTUNITY
SNSs like LinkedIn allow job recruiters to hire potential employers. There are more than 65 million members on LinkedIn from which any organization can consider a suitable profile in accordance with their requirement. The job-seeker can also apply online reducing both time and effort. On the other hand, SNSs like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn allows everyone to follow any organization of their choice which enables the follower to get regular updates of that organization. This, therefore, keeps the candidate updated about that particular organization. 
4) NEW SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
Social connections on web can produce ripe fruits if friends are made within certain limits, as in by not adding fully unknown profiles to your list. New friends allow you to communicate with different people, people with different mindset, background, culture etcetera all over the globe. This enables to broaden mind and accept every individual how he/she is and leads towards the development of good morals. Also, if an individual receives support and encouragement on their achievements, shares like image, video and events and statuses, they tend to grow on confidence. Criticisms too, teaches many to mature up.   For example, a person who shares his song performance on Facebook gets reviews of his friends, blessings from his relatives, suggestions from a few experts, and criticism from people who either envy that individual or is trying to give an honest review. All of this, helps the sharer to learn and gain confidence within.
5) BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
As they say, sharing is caring. SNSs enables us to share peoples health condition, resources pertinent to their conditions, creating strong support pages and networks and other important information. Furthermore, SNSs allows to form groups which further allows people to share their thoughts, suggestions and feedbacks. These groups encourage people to perform different tasks for the amelioration of peoples life quality. For example, Facebook has various Samaj-Seva (social service) groups, certain blood donation groups, awareness campaigns, and obviously huge brands like Apple, Samsung, Sony etc. can promote their products on their respective pages that are visible to every follower. This ease of advertising has said goodbye to the conventional advertising procedures like displays on magazines, radio, newspapers etc.   
3. IS SNS SUPERCEDING THE CONVENTIONAL WAY OF LIVING?
Like every good comes with a condition, in this section disadvantages of the SNS will be the focal point. 
1) ADDICATION IS SCARY
Im an addict. I just get lost in Facebook was an unexpected reply received from a young mother when she was queried about the reason for not helping her daughter with her homework [8]. Are SNS really worth it? This is just an instance. A million instances could be given right here. This wasnt the way people behaved, say about a decade ago. People were more focused, the distractions were not so addictive. People really need to understand that its not worth their priority but a pass time. Yes, as humans, people tend to share their minds with others as humans seek attention in one way or the other, but keeping SNS as a priority is a mistake, a misleading mistake that can ruin their special moments one generally craves for in later stages.
2) LEADS TO MISINFORMATION 
Many developed a passion of running blogs after the arrival of web. Not just blogs, representing their opinions on certain facts that are solely based on their personal perception. These opinions when shared on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and so on can be taken and spread as news all over the internet. For example, on July 27, 2015, the date when Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam died, a fake message was passed on all over WhatsApp that the prime minister of India had declared a holiday the next day which was nothing but a hoax. A lot of employees and students didnt show up the next day giving this false news as an excuse. The power of social networking can be imagined right on the grounds of this.
3) FAKE IDENTITY
Facebook has over 83 million fake accounts by the year 2012 [9]. The easiness at which one can make an account on SNS, they are vulnerable to the Sybil attack [10], under which a malicious user can create more than one account, sometimes numerous accounts. On the other hand, people make fake accounts in order to like their own pages, pictures, shares and much more. This is same as living in an unreal world just to seek attention. According to a school survey, children below 16 years of age flaunt the number of likes they have on their Facebook account. This is a huge reason to worry about as the younger generation are trying to prove a point by getting likes which has no meaning and existence in the real world and brings unwanted characteristics like arrogance, ignorance and immatureness.
             
4. CONCLUSION
The advantages and disadvantages doesnt end, discussions could be made forever. The thing that matters is to choose upon where does each person stands. If its about a young person, he/she should limit his time investment on SNS. If its about a person who retrieves valuable information out of it no specific bounds are necessary. As SNSs continues to grow, researchers need to understand what makes people use these sites. These studies will help to know how individuals mind works when theyre on the site. Its all about what the person does on SNS.    With the arrival of SNSs such as Facebook, overall SNS usage has gained momentum in such a way that more than 500 million users are active participants in the Facebook community alone and studies suggest that between 55% and 82% of teenagers and young adults use SNSs on a regular basis [11]. Those are huge numbers to deal with to extract valuable information and also to prevent individuals from its drawbacks and addiction. This is the time to look into the pros and cons and aware people around whats good to them. On the other hand, brands can use this as a platform to promote their product, the more efficiently and effectively a brand uses it, the more it benefits their company. In the end it matters upon how were using it.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT 
I would like to put on record, my appreciation and gratitude to all those who have furnished their support and input. I have received tremendous guidance from my guide Mr. Ankit Garg, Assistant Professor, Amity University, Haryana. I would like to thank my sister Ishita Dutt who as a teenager helped me to analyze how teens actually use SNS, and all my family members for their encouragement. 
REFERENCES

[1] Crime pattern detection using online social media-Raja Ashok Bolla, 2014 

[2]  http://www.toptensocialmedia.com/social-media-social-buzz/10-pros-and-cons-of-social-media/

[3] Analysis of social networking sites: A study on effective communication-P. Sri Jothi*, M. Neelamalar and R. Shakthi Prasad, 18 March 2011 

[4] Griffiths MD (2005) A components model of addiction within a biopsychosocial framework. J Subst Use 10: 191-197.

[5]Shaffer HJ, LaPlante DA, LaBrie RA, Kidman RC, Donato AN, et al. (2004) Toward a syndrome model of addiction: multiple expressions, common etiology. Harv Rev Psychiatry 12: 367-374.

[6]Turel O, Serenko A (2012) The benefits and dangers of enjoyment with social networking websites. Eur J Inf Syst 21: 512-528.       

[7]Online Social Networks and Police in India - Understanding the Perceptions, Behavior, Challenges Niharika Sachdeva, Ponnurangam Kumaraguru Cybersecurity Education and Research Center (CERC), IIIT-Delhi

[8]Cohen E. Five Clues that You Are Addicted to Facebook. CNN Health; Atlanta, GA, USA: 2009. [Accessed on 18 August 2011]. 

[9]http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/02/tech/social-media/facebook-fake-accounts/

[10]J. R. Douceur. The Sybil Attack. In IPTPS, 2002

[11] Daria J. Kuss and Mark D. Griffiths
Online Social Networking and Addiction- A Review of the Psychological Literature 

Authors-
Sahil sharma, Research Scholar, Amity University Haryana
Ankit Garg, Assistant Professor, Amity University, Haryana

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