Social Media – Is it Really Bad For Us?
So, is social media bad for us?
For some, the mere mention of the phrase “social media” can turn them away from whoever uttered it. Nothing can be worse than this attention-guzzling, addition-forming, artificial-feeling method of staying connected with friends and family. But maybe social media is simply getting a bad rap. According to a new study by Carphone Warehouse, being on social media can have surprising benefits. For one, more than half of those surveyed would say it allows them to maintain invaluable relationships with their loved ones. It got us thinking – perhaps there’s more to social media than doomsday headlines might suggest. So, we looked at some of the ways social media has the potential to actually enhance our lives. So, we decided to do some investigating. Here’s a short exploration of why social media is probably not bad for us after all.
Social media can bring families closer together
According to the new study, two in five Brits would credit the internet for bringing them closer to their families. Half of respondents also agree that video chat apps like Skype, Facebook Messenger and FaceTime allow their families to get in touch with each other more often. A 2019 Stanford University study into The Welfare Effects of Social Media came to a similar conclusion. They found that Facebook, in particular, can be a vital social lifeline for those who are otherwise isolated. Any discussion of social media, they say, “should not obscure the fact that it fulfils deep and widespread needs.” After all, whether our family is halfway around the world or right next door, social media gives us that extra method of connection to help us strengthen family bonds.
The internet makes our lives easier
We can’t mention social media without alluding to the internet as a whole. The new research found that an impressive 7 in 10 respondents would say the internet has made their family lives easier. Look into this further and 7 in 10 people aged 25-34 would specifically credit apps with making their and their family’s lives easier. With 2.1 million Android apps and 2 million Apple apps to choose from, it’s no wonder we’re making the most of the massive library at our disposal.
That said, we’d be amiss without pointing out that it’s important to keep a close eye on what we do online to ensure our lives are made easier because of it. For example, are you using the internet for its ability to give you real-time information and news or its ability to distract you from what you’re really supposed to be doing? Is the internet a way for you to get easy and instant communication with loved ones or do you use it as a form of procrastination instead? Keep an eye on how you use the internet to make sure it’s playing a positive role in your life.
Social media spreads social awareness
Possibly one of the best features that social media platforms boast is a lack of restrictions. While some countries may block their residents from accessing certain platforms, social media in general is ubiquitous. Anyone with an internet connection can interact with anyone from anywhere around the world. Without a physical boundary separating us, we’re free to learn about the lives – and plights – of people from all corners of the globe.
This might be one of the reasons why social media activism has been credited with amplifying movements such as the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter campaigns for equality. Many of us can gain a better understanding of the issues around the world – and sometimes intimate access to the people suffering because of it – through social media. As Ethan Zuckerman explains, “social media is critically important in giving voice to communities who’ve been systemically excluded from media.” Whether we’re talking about marginalised communities or simply the 4.5 million social-media-using 55+ year olds, these platforms are allowing more people to be heard
Social Media: Use it Wisely!
Considering the benefits of social media listed above, it’s no wonder 19 million of us say the internet, apps and technology haven’t negatively affected their family life. After all, the internet – and social media platforms in particular – can be of great benefit to society (if used wisely), helping us stay connected to loved ones and learn about people around the world.
This guest post was authored by Hannah Waters
Hannah is a freelance writer covering topics related to technology and society. She has worked extensively with many leading lights and advocates in the small business world, and has a particular interest in how the technological revolution can be used to improve all of our lives. She is based in London.