Social Media’s Growing Influence and Hazards
Almost 1 in 3 people living on the planet use one or the other social media site. And two-thirds of all internet users are on social media platforms (Our World in Data). Today, not only is social media growing, its impact is growing at an even bigger rate.
Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have access to your data that provides them an understanding of your personal traits. They can have an influence on the potential actions you may take. The influence of social media extends to your social, commercial, and personal actions.
Today, social media companies have so much consumer information that insurers are now capable of determining your personal coverage costs based on the trends and insights gained from your social media posts (WSJ).
While you can try vpn online to protect yourself from potential threats and data leaks when using the internet, the information you share on social media through your profile and posts cannot be protected. Social media has affected your life in both positive and negative ways. This guide takes a look at how this behemoth of a section of your online experience is influencing different aspects of life.
Influence of Social Media on Teens
Most teens claim that social media has helped them find friends and build stronger relationships. It has also helped them reach out to a more diverse world. Social media use has become almost a universal practice among teens. In its survey conducted in March-April 2018, Pew Research Center found that teens understand the unique benefits and challenges of growing up in this digital age.
The key findings of this research are as follows:
- 81% of surveyed teens said that they felt more connected to their friends through social media
- 69% said that it helped them interact with a wide diversity of people from around the world
- 68% felt that they found friends on social media who will support them through difficult times
It is also believed that social media helps them become more civic as they interact with people from a wider diversity. Younger people are much more likely to share info about their family life and accomplishments than their personal issues or political viewpoints on social networks.
It is surprising that more Millennials than teens post their selfies on social networks. The survey found that only 25% of teens do so. 4 in 10 teens (43%) said that they felt pressured to post only positive content about themselves. 37% said that they post things only to get likes and comments.
45% of them claimed that they found all the drama on social networks to be overwhelming. Another similar percentage further said that they will often unfollow or unfriend their friends because of such drama. While 78% of these teens said they found too much drama on such people’s accounts, more than 50% of them were bullied before taking the decision to unfollow or unfriend someone.
Social Media & Student Life
During the last count, Facebook was found to have over 2.45 billion monthly active users worldwide. Its user base continues to grow at a staggering rate. And a significant percentage of this increase was recorded from student users. According to another Pew Research Center survey, almost 8 in 10 college students and over 7 in 10 high school students spend a significant time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks.
There are many reasons why students like to spend so much time online socializing:
- Social media gives students a lot of freedom
- Students can upload anything and talk with anyone
- They can find and make new friends
- They are able to comment on other people’s posts
Many students love social media for allowing them to create different online identities that may be different from what their real-life world is.
It is for the first time that young people are able to create their own digital image with full control. No other medium provided them this much freedom before. At the same time, psychologists and parents have seen this as a challenging situation for their children because it can create an identity crisis among young students.
Social Media & the Growing Data Security Concerns
With access to so much data, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social platforms have also raised data security concerns. In fact, this has led to special congressional hearings of the CEO of Facebook. Today, Facebook is at the forefront of many public policy debates and how it uses and manipulates user data is a growing concern. Issus like the Cambridge Analytica fiasco and the influence of social networks on the US presidential election have raised alarm and concerns from the public and civil society about protecting user data and shielding them against such unethical influence.
When Facebook was facing backlash during the congressional hearing phase in 2018, a Pew Research Center survey found that 42% of people claimed that they would be taking a break from the social network’s use for many weeks. 26% said that they had already deleted the app from their mobile device. Despite this, another Pew survey a year later found that social media’s status was unchanged.
Most of Facebook’s critics are concerned about 2 primary aspects of the social network:
- Poor access management to the social network by third-party providers
- Consumer data mishandling
- Disinformation being spread by Facebook
In light of all these concerns and the recent spate of issues, governments around the world are at work to create more regulations to control how social media sites access and use data. The European Union GDPR is one such example in this direction.
Another related concern is to break down Big Tech into more compact and easy to regulate units.
Impact of Social Media on Businesses
According to a study (Ambassador), over 7 in 10 consumers who have positive social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend that brand to their peers. Social media has a huge influence on different aspects of business, offering a wide range of benefits.
Social media helps a business in 3 important areas – brand building, Omnichannel management, and business growth. The different ways in which it affects all these areas include the following:
- Social media helps businesses reach a much larger audience
- Social media contributes a new dimension to your customer service profile
- It contributes to word of mouth publicity
- Social media marketing is cost-effective
- It allows you to directly collect consumer feedback
- It helps improve user engagement levels
- Customer service provided on social media acts as a new form of effective marketing
- Social media improves brand loyalty
While social media has both its positives and negatives, it continues to draw new and more Internet users into its fold. Data concerns continue to exist as new regulations are taking shape. Despite all this, social media has its user base that continues to grow and more and more businesses are taking advantage of its reach.
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