New technology raises the question of whether or not social media is beneficial in today’s society. Social media, defined as a form of communication with the use of apps and social networking sites, has become a primary source of both positivity and negativity. Social media applications often baffle many people who aren’t used to the convenience of news outlets and communication at our fingertips. As more people utilize the services provided to us by social media, skeptics begin to wonder whether or not these services do more harm than good. Some may argue that the media has made adolescents and young adults more antisocial, however, today’s society relies on the use of social media, and only progresses as the days go on. The easy access of the benefits which social media provides allows users the ability to enhance their education, share ideas and opinions, and connect with others. There are various advantages that social media has on society such as how we are better able to stay informed and the opportunities provided to us.
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The opportunities to meet people, grow a business, and further an education add to the list of benefits that social media has to offer. Loneliness has been proven to be a major cause of depression and even weaken the immune system. Maintaining healthy relationships can improve your overall well-being, and social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people on a personal level (McHenry, 2015). New dating sites have become more and more conscious about making sure their users are safe when potentially meeting someone online or in person. In 2015, 59% of people agreed that online dating sites are an excellent way to start a relationship, a 15% jump from ten years earlier (PEW Research Center). Snapchat provides a service which encourages people to keep in touch with each other on the daily- a Snapchat streak. The consecutive number of days which two people talk to each other will appear next to the person’s name. If you miss a day, the number goes away. On average, 188 million people use this feature to keep in touch with friends and to start new friendships (Spiegel, 2018). 64% of teens say that they have made new friends through the use of a social media app, and 62% agree that they share their username with new encounters to stay in touch afterward (Lenhart, 2015).
There has been an increase in the development of apps geared toward enhancing personal growth in the past few years. From fitness apps to pocket bible apps to online doctors and psychologists, social media has made it possible to stay healthy and happy. For example, a popular fitness app called “My Fitness Pal” allows the user to track their calories, water intake, and daily exercise. “Doctor On Demand” is an app created to ease the process of taking time out of the user’s busy schedule to make an appointment at the doctor’s office by providing an online alternative. It also provides virtual emotional therapy sessions for little to no cost. Applications like these are extremely beneficial because they make it easy for the user to stay on top of their physical and mental health in an efficient way, and are aimed to improve their well being. The use of fitness apps has grown by 33% in the past three years (Net Imperative, 2017) and two thirds of the population agrees that seeing their doctor digitally is preferred over seeing them in person (ITN, 2015).
Social media is an excellent way for businessmen and women to stay in touch with potential clients in order to connect and grow their following. It has never been easier for an ordinary person to follow the American dream and become a successful business owner. Instagram, specifically, functions as a major platform for growing companies as it allows customers to communicate directly with the owner through direct message or the comment section. This creates an easy way for the business owner to address any concerns or questions that a consumer may have and determine the likes and dislikes of certain products. About 67% of marketers use some sort of social media platform to promote their business (Edison Research, 2017), and about 77% of millenials go out and buy a product after viewing it online (UM Dartmouth). Again, the explore page can connect a business owner with customers with similar interests and needs, and aid the business to success.
Not only has social media become an excellent platform to grow a business, but it has provided an enhanced education experience. From stay at home moms who want to get their degree, to current students looking to retake a class, online schooling has become more and more popular thanks to the services provided by social media. In 2014, almost 7 million students were enrolled in an online college course (University of The Potomac). A study performed in January of 2018 showed an increase of 5.3% of students from the previous year who claimed to have taken an online course sometime in their college career (Friedman, 2018).
Today’s education system is built on the newest technology in order to reach its students easily and efficiently. Though some professors struggle to win the attention of students over tablets, computers, and cell phones, an increasingly large number of faculty take advantage of the benefits that social media has to offer. At Arizona State University, professors are expected to use the services provided to connect with students- whether it be announcements, assignments, or grades. In 2013, a study of 8,000 people performed by Pearson Learning Solutions and the Babson Survey Research Group showed a growth of 34% of professors who utilized social media in the classroom from the previous year. Not only does the accessibility of social media positively affect professors, but 78-96% of students agree that the use of social media makes it easier to be creative, share their work, and collaborate with other students (University of Cincinnati).
Outside of the classroom, social media is still able to provide a platform to reach a larger audience when informing them of with important information. Today’s society practically lives on their cell phones, so news outlets and major social media platforms recognized the importance of staying informed and integrated elements like the trending page or explore pages. These connect the user with sports, politics, medicine, crime, and other popular topics. 50% of Generation Z and 49% of millenials get their news from online sources (PEW Research Center). From 2013- 2016, the number of people who get their news from mobile devices grew by 18%, and continues to grow in 2018 (PEW Research Center). Leslie Berland, the CMO of Twitter, explains the main goal of this all-purpose app: ‘Twitter shows me what’s happening in the world. Twitter shows me what’s up. Twitter keeps me on the pulse. Twitter keeps me informed. This is why people love Twitter,’ (Berland, 2017). The purpose of almost all social media apps is to connect people with what’s going on in the world, which is why the explore pages and moments tab of Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter all serve to do the same thing. A Medium Corporation estimated about 92-139 million views of the moments tab on Twitter monthly. That’s more than CNN and the New York Times, making it the biggest news outlet in the world (A Medium Corporation).
However, the news tab on Twitter serves as a more professional news outlet compared to the explore pages on Instagram and Snapchat, which are personal and tailored to the user. Both gather data from the user such as their following, liked and saved posts to create a custom feed to entertain and connect the user with others who have similar likes or tastes. This makes it easy for social media users to build authentic friendships and relationships or stay informed about things that they are genuinely interested in. Other social media apps such as Remind and Facebook can be commonly used to create groups to send mass information. These are a few of the many applications available to users which serve to connect people to each other and to important news around them.
Many social media platforms come with stereotypes which give these intuitive apps a bad reputation. One of the big debates is whether or not students who use social media get worse grades than those who don’t. However, students who use social media for educational purposes are found to have better grades than those who don’t (Appel, Marker). It was also found that students who use social media for personal use rather than for educational use saw no difference in the time that was spent studying (Appel, Marker). Also, a common stereotype about social media is that heavy users are more prone to be socially isolated. While this may appear true, about 25% of teens reported that social media helped them feel more outgoing, confident, and less shy (Common Sense Media). 83% of teens report that using social media makes them feel closer to their friends (Lenhart, 2015). Another fear that people have about social media is the easy spread of hate speech and hate groups. While it may be easier for someone to spread hate by pushing a few buttons instead of in person, social media platforms are commonly used to create a positive change in their community and spread awareness to issues they’d like to address. For example, Brother Nature is an influencer who uses his platform to spread peace and share videos of him spending time with animals outdoors He, along with many others, use their platforms to make the world feel a sense of compassion during a time of distress.
The advances which new social media platforms offer to the ordinary person can be intimidating. However, as today’s society continues to research, make discoveries, and advance technologically, the use of social media won’t be slowing down any time soon. We must take advantage of the opportunities that are being provided to us daily- such as the access to an enhanced education, business opportunities, important information, communication, and a guide to a healthier lifestyle. The convenience and accessibility of information and communication at a our fingertips creates a world of possibilities and an opportunity to fulfill the American Dream, and it is no debate that social media does more good than harm.
The Benefits of Social Media on Today’s Society. (2022, Feb 02).
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