Inthe past decade, the use of social networking sites havesignificantly changed the way people communicate and interact withone another. A social network entails an online platform whose mainaim is to facilitate social relations between people who have similaractivities, interests, as well as connections in real life. Whilepeople are interacting using social networks, the users arerepresented by the use of a profile, which contains his or herpersonal information. Many social networks tend to be based on theweb, and they allow interaction and connection of users using theinternet and other services such as instant messaging. Through socialnetworks, people are able to share ideas, events, and activities, aswell as what interests them. The widely used social networkingsites are Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace among others. Socialnetworking also involves the use of texting. This form of socialmedia is widely used and common among the teenagers who engage in thesending of texts. A high number of high school students in the UnitedStates and other parts of the world use texting platforms such asWhatsApp and group texting. They share photos, videos, and a lot ofcrucial information through these platforms. Apart from texting, theuse of Google+ is a common practice among young people. The overdependence and addiction to various forms of electroniccommunications such as online social forums, blogging and textinghave not only brought about dramatic changes to many human behaviorsand their interactions with others but also have affected them bothphysically and psychologically.The effects on human behavior include contributing to addiction,emotional problems, changing the way people communicate, and exchangeof messages based on trust. In addition, social networking hascontributed to the change in the behavior of shoppers who areinfluenced by online adverts. Other changes brought about by socialnetworking include contributing to mental illness, cyber-bullyingamong others.
Inthe modern world, the behavior of youths, as well as older adults insociety, is largely influenced by the use of social networking sites.A notable impact that these sites have had on human behavior is thatthey have affected the privacy of users. Withthe use of social networks such as Facebook, people have revealedtheir personal life to the public. This emanates from the fact thatit has become possible to post intimate details about a person’slife. In addition, the details posted in the social networks can beaccessed any time by other users since they are available in thepersonal profiles. This habit is more likely to be related to theaction of posting photos online where Internet usershave a tendency to display images of themselves in parties, or inother social activities. Although the users of social networks suchas Facebook and Twitter can control the people who view their onlinecontent, they often forget to apply such limitations. This impliesthat an unlimited number of users will access the photos (Buskens 2).
Theemergence of mediated communication is also another impact thatsocial media has had on human social behavior. Zappavigna, an author,argues“throughthe use of social networks, the mode of communication between peopleacross the world has changed significantly. Mediated communicationhas emerged to replace face-to-face interactions” (2). As a result,there is a change from the way people used to communicate in thepast. For example, people nowadays prefer to text than make a phonecall since they find it convenient to send a message. In addition,people have come to prefer sending e-mails than meeting with theother party with whom they are interacting. With the use of socialnetworks, people have become interactive and social comparedto the past. However, the changes in the style of communication haveminimized physical meetings between people. This is contributing toweak ties,which are exemplified in the social media interactions.As such, people are no longer personally connected with one anotherwhen they interact. Therefore, the fact that people are communicatingmore does not imply that they have strongrelationships.
Anotherimpact of social media on people’s behavior is that it has affectedthe trust that internet users have on people they have never met.Buskens, a researcher notes“when using social media to communicate, there is a tendency toexchange open messages with them based on trust” (4). This trustcan be regarded as blind since users tend to communicate freely withpeople they have never seen. The social media relationships onlyexist for a certain time, and this means that they are not as strongas they would appear when people use face-to-face communication.Social networks also affect the behavior of humans since theydetermine who people trust and interact with and those who are nottrusted are segregated in the process of forming relationships.For example, there is a tendency for people to interact with thosewho support their points of view. On the other hand, those who opposethe viewpoints of a certain user are ignored since they are not seenas friends.
Socialnetworking has had a notable impact on the relationships that peopleform. Through social networks, it has become possible for people tomake new friends, some of who are completely unknown to them. Theinteractions between new friends on social networkingsites happen at a personal level. The users can evenagree to meet at a certain location and form a strong friendship,which was initially created through online chatting. For example, theexchange of messages between people on social sites such as Facebooklead to long-term relationships and friendships. Atwoodand Conchetta who have authored a book argue“withlittle knowledge of the other person’s family background or wherethey come from, the interactions extends beyond online communicationand physical access becomes a reality” (6).
Usageofelectronic communication such as social media has changed people’sshopping behavior making it increasingly online along with businessesutilizing them for targeted advertisement.Theshopping behavior of people have changed to the extent that onlineshopping has dominated the world of business more than any otheractivity. This is related to the notion of the death of brick andmortar stores. The social behavior of humans has been affected bysocial networks since many businesses are conducted through onlineplatforms. Web marketing and advertising has in the recent yearsbecome a common phenomenon. Since users have a tendency to post theirpreferences in the social networks, it has become possible fororganizations to place adverts that target these users. Companiesbase their adverts on the psychological behavior of customers. Organizations are aware that customers are interested in purchasingfrom stores where they can have a variety of products to choose from.“With many products from which they can chose, users canpurchase goods and services without necessarily having to go to thepremises of the company” (Cross and Andrew 4). Online shopping hasresulted to the closing of many company stores, as organizationsprefer to have customers purchase products from their websites.
Socialnetworks affect the psychological development of internet users sincethey can lead to mental illnesses. Studies have found that increasedusage of social media sites contributes to negative behaviors amongthe users. For example, the use of Facebook is a risk factor for thedevelopment of negative feelings, emotions, as well as expression ofnegative behaviors. Depression is a common occurrence among users ofFacebook. For example, users have a tendency to evaluate theirexperiences and progress in life based on the circumstances of theironline friends. Obee has written a book on social networking and henotes “Since the friends portray only the best side of themselves,the misconception of the users always makes them think negativelyabout themselves and develop feelings of inadequacy” (12). Thedesire to be at par with their online friends has negatively affectedteens and young adults. The development of negative antisocialbehavior among teenagers can be attributed to excessive use of socialnetworking sites. Negative behavior canbe attributed to hyper texting and hyper networking. Teenagers whospend about three hours on social networks every day and send aboutone hundred text messages daily can easily develop behaviors, whichare unhealthy. Some of the behaviors developed by such teenagersinclude sexual activities, excessive smoking, as well as alcoholconsumption. Suicide attempts are also common among teens who spendmost of their times texting peers. This means that, although socialnetworks have some benefits, there is also the negative side ofinteractions through social media platforms.20percent of teenagers in the United States are involved in hypertexting. The possibility of such teens to engage in antisocialbehavior is 3.5 times higher than that of moderate texters. One inevery nine teenagers in the United States can be considered ashypertexters (Obee15).
Cyber-bullyingis a significant impact that social networking sites have had on thebehavior of internet users. In as much as social media provides aplatform where friends can interact, there are online predators whoare motivated to attack vulnerable internet users. The most targetedusers include teens and kids. The attacks on internet users can havea devastating mental impact and can affect children’s interactionwith parents and fellow peers. In some instances, the victims of suchattacks can commit suicide in order to forget the experiences of thecyber bullies. This brings to question the need to protect childrenfrom online content and advise them on the limits they should not gobeyond when interacting with their online friends (Schwartz10). According to the Urban Institute, 17% of students in the UnitedStates have been victims of cyber-bullying. PEW research center hasdocumented that about 55% of teenagers in the United States regularlyencounter cyber bullying. In addition, 84% of teenagers havewitnessed the victims of the bullying asking the bully to stop thebehavior. 80% of the teenagers have tried to defend the victims ofcyber-bullying (Internet Safety 101 par. 2).
Socialnetworks have been found to have a huge impact on the body image. Therepresentation of members of both the male and female gender islargely influenced by the images, which are posted online. Most ofthe devices used today such as digital cameras, tablets, andsmartphones have some special features that can be used to alterphotos. Young internet users have taken such an opportunity to alterimages so that they can appear more attractive. Most of them uploadimages of themselves that have been enhanced using certain features.This implies that the impact of social networks on the bodyconfidence of users cannot be overlooked. People feel better aboutthemselves when they appear attractive than when their appearanceseems to have some flaws. With an attractive face, the self-esteem ofsocial network users is higher than when they appear unattractive.The body image determines who to interact with and who to ignore insocial networks. For instance, users of Facebook tend to preferfriends whose appearances are appealing (Ashby 30).
Blogginghas also been found to have a huge impact onthe social behavior of internet users. Social network users tend toexhibit behavioral traits that conform to what is written in a blogthey read. In addition, there are high changes of people alteringtheir attitudes and perceptions based on the information they readfrom a blog. As people respect bloggers, they also take intoconsideration the contents of the blog and base their actions on whathas been written on the blog. The effect of blogging on socialbehavior can also be attributed to the educative role of blogs. Intheir book, Cho and Meg argue “Learning institutions such asUniversities and colleges use blogs to conduct discussions, shareinformation, and engage in dialogue with students and staff members”(4). Blogs affect people’ssocial behavior since they contribute to creativity, as well asexchange of thoughts and opinions.
Textinghas an impact onthe lives of teenagers since it helps them develop language skills.The reading ability of teenagers who use texting improvessignificantly and this implies that their writing skills will alsobecome perfect. Through communicating in texts while having fun atthe same time, teenagers have the opportunity to become more literateand possess exceptional language skills. Texting has the effect ofreducing emotional relief, especially for teenagers who may beexperiencing negative feelings and changes in mood. Throughinteracting with friends via text, teens can strengthen theirfriendships and the bond between them and friends. They can open upand relieve themselves of the problems they have more comfortably inthe company of friends than it would be the case if they are alone(Schwartz35)
Thesocial behavior of introverted teenagers has been largely affected bythe use of social media platforms such as texting. When suchteenagers are overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings that can affecttheir life, they can go straight to the point and reveal theirproblems to friends without feeling uncomfortable. Thus, textinggives introverts an opportunity to reach out to others and revealtheir real-life experiences without fear of being stigmatized bysociety (Schwartz38).
Inconclusion, social media has become part ofhuman life, and it is likely that in the future, people willstill continue to use social networks. Many aspects of daily life arerelated to the use of the internet, and this is why people findsocial networks inevitable. With the increased use of networks suchas Facebook and Twitter, Human interactions have been enhanced innumerous ways. It is crucial that internet users are careful ofthe content posted online and ensure that it does not compromisetheir safety and security. Although the widespread use of socialnetworking will dominate many activities in the world, it is stillunknown whether people will revert to their traditional modes ofcommunication. It is not clear whether people will always base theirbehavior on the interactions they have on social media.
Atwood,Joan D, and Conchetta Gallo. TheEffects of the Internet on Social Relationships: TherapeuticConsiderations.Bloomington, IN: Iuniverse Inc, 2011. Print.
Ashby,Kerry B. TheRole of Online Social Networking in Adolescent Body ImageSatisfaction.Thesis (M.Appl.Psych.)–Murdoch University, 2011. Print.
Buskens,Vincent W. SocialNetworks and Trust.Boston, Mass: Kluwer Academic, 2002. Print.
Cross,Robert L, and Andrew Parker. TheHidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really GetsDone in Organizations.Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2004. Print.
Cho,Joy D, and Meg M. Ilasco. Blog,Inc: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community.San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2012. Print.
InternetSafety 101.Cyber-bullying Statistics,2013. Web. 5 Dec. 2014.
Obee,Jenna. SocialNetworking: The Ultimate Teen Guide.Lanham,Maryland: Scarecrow Press,2012. Print.
Schwartz,Heather E. Cyberbullying.North Mankato, Minn: Capstone Press, 2013. Print.
Zappavigna,Michele. TheDiscourse of Twitter and Social Media.London: Continuum International Pub. Group, 2012. Print.