Social Networks Help or Hurt Social Interaction?

Facebook Logo - Large SquareImpact of Social Media on Real Life Social Interaction

The impact of social media on actual live social interaction really cuts both ways. Yes it does open a venue in which people can hide behind their computer, interact through online personalities, and perhaps under-develop their social abilities. It’s so much easier to comment or like someone’s post or post up updates about your own life. But in the same time, it does open a venue in which friends can interact more often which in itself can lead them to hang out more in the real world and keep up with one another when you probably wouldn’t have done so in the real world to begin with. There are many arguments and reports that go both ways, and I am certain it’s not black and white as many arguments on both sides are valid.

Social Mythbusting Report

One such study was released by ExactTarget and CoTweet, which showed the large social networking sites are not having a negative effect on face-to-face relations. Note the claim is face-to-face relation, not necessarily negative effects in social ability or personal development or any other topics that are tempting to drag into the conversation.

The study consisted of studying a series of focus groups of 44 people as well as a survey of 1,506 US citizens. The research showed that among people who report they’re using Facebook more than before, 27% say they hang with friends in person more often as well. 13% say they hang out less. A full 60% said there is no significant impact whatsoever. The trend is even greater amongst Twitter users showing 46% say they hang out with friends more while 7% said less.

Issues with Social Media Report

Of course let’s keep a few things in mind before we just consume anything and everything media tells us. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be Clean Cut Media!

First, the CoTweet is a social media management tool, meaning it benefits from good press for social media. If Facebook came out with a report saying users of Facebook tends to have more friends and happier lives, you would take it with a grain of salt right? Same here. I am not questioning their validity of the data, but when you conduct experience but are hoping for a specific result – it can have an impact on the methods that are used to carry it out.

Secondly, the data was gathered from people who are using Facebook and Twitter more than before. Let’s say you love watching NFL football, and over time you watch it more and more because you are getting more invested in your favorite team. Let’s say a study was conducted to determine if you have become more violent because you watch more NFL. Let’s be honest with ourselves, most likely, we wouldn’t be inclined to agree to that. Why? Because we like the NFL. We want to do more of it. We don’t want something to say what we do is bad for us. This is a huge factor in the discussion over violence with video games. If you like playing violent games, you are less likely to agree violent games make it more likely that in a strenuous situation that you may resort to violence. Seems like the same argument can be made for social media. You love facebook? You’ve been using it more and more? Your mom questions that it’s making you a social fart, that your skin color is getting pale, and you are becoming more distant – you would argue that point. “I am more aware of what my friends are going through.” “This let’s me grow closer to them.” “It gives me stuff to talk about.” “It’s fun.”

What are your thoughts?

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This is obvious an interesting discussion. What are your thoughts on this matter?

  • Does Social Sites like Facebook, help or hurt social interaction?
  • In what ways?

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