Is social networking really social?
By Larry Rosen, Ph.D.
February 1, 2011
Let’s face it. Everyone is on Facebook. Well, not everyone, but 550 million or one in 12 people worldwide have a Facebook account. As of late 2010, 61 percent of all online adults are Facebooking, a whopping increase from 35 percent just two years ago. This includes nearly all young adults (86 percent), the majority of teens (71 percent) and even one in four 8- to 12-year-olds. According to the latest research two out of every three 8- to 24-year-olds Facebookers are using it daily. If it were a country, Facebook would be the third largest in the world behind India and China. Add to this the newest Nielsen statistics showing that teenagers send and receive 3,705 text messages per month (yep, you read that right), followed by 1,707 for 18- to 24-year-olds and 1,178 for preteens and you have a picture of an online youth population spending vast amounts of time “communicating” with other people. But is this really communication? Well, consider a few recent research results: * The majority of teens prefer to contact their friends via text messaging (54 percent) compared to talking to them on the telephone or even seeing them face to face (33 percent). * More than one in four Facebook users report they see friends more face to face than they did prior to Facebook compared to one in eight who say they see them less. * Finally, 59 percent of Facebook users feel more connected to people than they did BF (before Facebook). The bottom line is that we are all spending more time being social and much of that involves virtual communication. Is sending a text that says “OK” or “LOL” really communicating? Is posting a comment on someone’s FB wall really communicating? That to me is a very important question since Facebook and text messaging are not going to disappear but are only going to increase over the foreseeable future. Four years ago – an eternity in cyberspace – my...
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