It is no understatement that social networking has enormously influenced and changed today’s society. Relationships, both social and in the workplace have been re-defined and shaped so much so, that individuals can even share their everyday life with whomever they please with the simple click of a button. If social networking if performed correctly, is greatly productive in helping an individual and/or business grow and become successful. It is about a configuration of individuals, brought together often by interpersonal means, such as friendship, common interests, or ideas (Coyle, C. L. & Vaughn, H. 2008). It can build strong foundations for relationships and create unity amongst people, which in turn lessens the workload due to an enhanced productivity. As helpful as it is, when broken down to social networking through the internet, it can too quickly turn into a highly addictive procrastination tool that can lead to many hours of time wasting and at worst, create delusions about reality (Watson, T. S. 2008). Due to ‘social networking’ existing long before the Internet age and being somewhat limited in ability, today the influence it has on society is even greater, alongside the increased associated risks and problems (Coyle, C. L. & Vaughn, H. 2008) that often follow.
Differences in ones self or a community occur when there is change. The biggest change in the last thirty years has been social change, which has evidently been responsible for generational differences, and therefore the generation gap. Advances in technology (in particular the making of social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace) have aided this change and according to research conducted by the Pew Research Centre has created the largest generation gap since the political clashes in the 1960’s (Salman, J. 2009). Some of society’s older, and therefore more traditional generation have said that today’s youth show a growing lack of respect and are far too concerned with their gadgets and gizmos, having no real responsibility as they themselves did growing up (Salman, J. 2009).
Although the older generation is making an attempt to catch up with these technological advances, youths seem to embrace new technology quicker and easier as they have the know-how. Due to their lack of knowledge in regards to the Internet and in particular, social networking sites, parents are left unaware of what’s happening in their child’s life, only seeing the consequences when their child has suddenly failed in school or has received lower then usual grades.
Studies have shown that the most vigorous users of social networking sites, the “Myspace Gen”, are the individuals most likely to develop an addiction to the Internet, with an outcome more devastating than expected. Addictive Internet use can be defined as an impulse control disorder that does not involve an intoxicant (Young, K. S. 1999). Researchers have found a relationship between the use of these sites and feelings of loneliness, shyness and even anxiety. The higher the addiction, the shyer the person is (Chak, K. & Leung, L. 2004). This so-called addiction evidently comes with a price as well as a lowered self-esteem and misconstrued sense of identity.
These websites are rapidly turning into today’s means of self-identity. Data collected by a study investigating gender differences in Identity Processes and Self-Esteem in Middle and Later Adulthood, reported that both men and women engage in different processes to either change or maintain their identities (Skultety, K. & Whitbourne, S. K. 2004). When an individual has a lowered self-esteem, they are more likely to engage in activities that in someway gives them reassurance, or a sense of achievement. Individuals using social networking sites are able to make their persona/identity anything they like, so for those with self-esteem issues, a false identity on one of these sites has proven to be a place where they are able to...
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