Synthesis Essay on Social Networking

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My cousin and I are best friends because of Social Networking Sites (SNS). I know that she has a favorite hat. Because of social networking sites, she knows how much I love it! I also know that my younger cousin turned 10 recently! These are all things that I would not know if Social Networking Sites did not exist! Some people may think that social networking sites are either their saving grace or pure evil itself, but they need to consider both sides of the issue. While SNS can foster relationships, usage should be monitored! Addiction to SNS has become a real problem.

22% of teenagers log on to their favorite social networking sites more than 10 times a day over 50% of teenagers log on more than once 75% of teens now own cell phones – 25% for social media 54% for texting and 24% for IMs (O'Keeffe, Clarke-Pearson, Council on Communications and Media)

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Everybody knows you need to use caution behind the wheel, but what about behind the screen? Social Networking Sites are beneficial for communication and entertainment, but who is behind the screen is what causes the problems.

Although social networking sites are often the favorite, they can harm some face-to-face contact with family! People will sit on their phones when hanging out at their friend's house instead of actually talking to their friend! It is known for a fact that some children and teens text their parents to ask what is for dinner! Many people believe that social networking sites contribute to people not talking as much in person.

Social media causes people to spend less time interacting face-to-face. A USC Annenberg School study found that the percentage of people reporting less face-to-face time with family in their homes rose from 8% in 2000 to 34% in 2011. 32% reported using social media or texting during meals (47% of 18-34 year olds) instead of talking with family and friends. (“Are Social Networking Sites Good”)

While this is a genuine argument, it can be fixed by a simple rule. Parents need to step in and take charge. If parents don't want phones at dinnertime, they can enforce a rule that does not allow phones at the table! While SNS can hurt relationships by causing people to not talk in person, some argue it fosters relationships more than it harms. This is true because people can stay in touch and the rules of the family or the person who is behind the screen is the one who determines how much face-to-face contact they desire. An article by states that,

Social media allows people to improve their relationships and make new friends. 93% of adults on Facebook use it to connect with family members, 91% use it to connect with current friends, and 87% use it to connect with friends from the past 72% of all teens connect with friends via social media. 83% of these teens report that social media helps them feel more connected to information about their friends' lives, 70% report feeling more connected to their friends' feelings, and 57% make new friends. (“Are Social Networking Sites Good”)

It is also very common for people to use social networking sites as a way to make plans to get together in person! Children usually would prefer to “play” in real life with their friends, but that might not be possible without planning in advance! It takes only a second to make a connection and arrange a face-to-face activity. further states,

Social media facilitates face-to-face interaction. People use social media to network at in-person events and get to know people before personal, business, and other meetings. Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found that messaging on social media leads to face-to-face interactions when plans are made via the sites and social media users ed close friends an average of 39 days each year while seeing close friends in person 210 days each year. (“Are Social Networking Sites Good”)

Even though face-to-face contact is important, sometimes it is impossible for some people if they do not have the money to fly across the world once a month to get coffee! That is one of the many ways SNS helps because Social Networking Sites are sometimes the only way that families can stay in touch! As for people who use it purely to avoid human interaction, that may be because they are very reclusive introverts or because they prefer to think out an Instant Message so that they don’t say anything that they don’t mean! There are some people who become so addicted that they don't want to talk to normal people, but once again it is the fault of the person who is behind the screen. So although there are some disadvantages, some would argue that SNSs help families more than they harm.

Another issue with Social Networking Sites is their impact on education. Some say they Social Networking Sites should not mix with school at all, because it can cause an inability to focus and pay attention in class. Time in the classroom should not be befuddled by phones or other electronics. Use in the hallways might be considered acceptable, but not in the classroom. School is a time to learn, not to Snapchat. As discussed in the following article, SNS and classroom time should not mix.

Students who are heavy social media users tend to have lower grades. 31% of teens say that using social media during homework reduces the quality of their work. Students who used social media had an average GPA of 3.06 while non-users had an average GPA of 3.82. Students who used social media while studying scored 20% lower on tests. College students' grades dropped 0.12 points for every 93 minutes above the average 106 minutes spent on Facebook per day. One study found that in schools that introduced a ban on cell phones, student performance improved 6.41%. Another found that grades began a steady decline after secondary school students reached 30 minutes of daily screen time. After four hours, average GPAs dropped one full grade. (“Are Social Networking Sites Good”)

This seems to suggest that overuse of social media can have a seriously detrimental effect on a student's academic performance.

While SNS accessed by a student's phone at school are not a healthy combination, Social Media usage at home about school perhaps should be encouraged. states,

Social media sites help students do better at school. 59% of students with access to the internet, report that they use social media to discuss educational topics and 50% use the sites to talk about school assignments. After George Middle School in Portland, Oregon, introduced a social media program to engage students, grades went up by 50%, chronic absenteeism went down by 33%, and 20% of students school-wide voluntarily completed extra-credit assignments. A Jan. 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology said college freshmen should use social networking sites to build networks of new friends, feel socially integrated at their new schools, and reduce their risk of dropping out. (“Are Social Networking Sites Good”)

Again, it is not the SNS that are the problem but rather the person behind the screen and how and when they choose to use these sites.

Another issue that that the use of Social Media causes is their effect on one's chances of employment or acceptance into institutions of higher learning. It has been found that posting things like “up until 4:00 AM partying last night!” can significantly both harm a student's chances of getting a job and/or their chances for college admission. found that:

Using social media can harm students' chances of college admission. College administrators scan Facebook profiles for evidence of illegal behavior by students. A 2016 Kaplan Test Prep survey found that 35% of college admissions officers checked an applicant's social media to learn more about them, up from 10% in 2008. 42% of these admissions officers discovered information that had a negative impact on prospective students' admission chances. In 2014, only 3% of students surveyed believed the content of their social media presence could hurt their prospects of admission. (“Are Social Networking Sites Good”)

What goes online stays online! People need to be made aware of that concept so that it doesn't come back to bite them later! Many companies now look at social networking sites to check to see what is posted on a certain person's account. For instance, if a person is/was a drug addict and posted about it on social media, a company could see that and they would probably not be hired. Same with colleges. They only want hardworking students who are willing to work hard to do well in life. Who would they choose? The drug addict or the student with above-average grades and a steady job? Obviously, a college and a company would choose the latter!

On the other hand, online interaction can provide them with excellent prospects. Now there are numerous websites that can be easily navigated to find unlimited job opportunities. No more driving all around town, and visiting numerous businesses. People are now able to fill out an application from their rocking chair. No more hitting the pavement! All of that time can now be saved and a person could be productive instead! Online social networking is extremely helpful for finding a job because it saves so much work and provides access to many more employment opportunities!

Along the same lines of what goes online- stays online FOREVER comes the more dangerous elements of Social Media. Children are not concerned with safety online, either because they don't know how dangerous it is or they just choose to ignore it. The ignorant ones should be taught and the ones who know about the danger should be taught to be more careful. They need proof! Not seeing an actual human on the other end of a chat can make revealing secrets so much easier than it would in real life! Social Media lends itself to this issue because it is so much easier to type about life on a screen than the person on the other end.

Danger can be avoided if a person is aware of these issues! Safety protocols can be put in place, such as hiding one's email and home address and making one's account private (requiring people to request to follow them and requiring consent). All of the available privacy precautions should be turned on and not accept friend requests from unknown people. Use of the block and report feature, or hiding one's location (like in Snapchat's Ghost Mode) can be helpful. Delaying a post describing one's location until after leaving, deleting or blocking unknown messages or following requests, and using caution to not post anything that might be regretted later are always to stay safe.

Bullying is another issue that has risen dramatically with the onset of Social Media. There are bullies in every school and they are often on the internet like everyone else. If a bully bothers a person in real life, it is even easier to accomplish this on the internet. Hiding behind the screen makes it almost effortless to hurt a person's feelings and be cruel not to mention the ability to remain almost anonymous. If there is still a problem, tell an adult or even the police in extreme situations. If children, teens, or adults have the proper precautions set, there should be no problem with spending some time online.

Another way that social media can be damaging in is in the area of one's health.

Social Networking is not usually, but in extreme cases dangerous to one's health. Online social networking can cause, shorter attention span, sensationalism, inability to empathize, shaky sense of identity, it can make people think that everything can be reversed and it may even be the origin of compulsive gambling and/or eating. (“Wintour”) People need to learn how much time online is healthy.

In the online and real world, there are thieves! Some want to steal a family's new silver dishes and some want to steal their identity! Some thieves online will try to steal a random person's credit card number and then buy things pretending to be that person. Another kind of thief is a hacker. A hacker might try to put viruses on someone's computer, steal someone's social security number, or just plain annoy them! So this is a very real fear for users with information online. People need to learn how to protect themselves from online theft! One protection is to check your credit card bill regularly and make sure that there are no purchases that don't match up! Finally, people need to educate themselves about online theft so that they can try to prevent it and be ready if it comes!

Social media in the creative realm such as Pinterest is a platform that people use to share their creations. People post pictures of their latest work and ideas and others can find inspiration for new projects. A variety of ideas are shared which is an excellent idea to learn and expand your creativity repertoire.

The downside of a public forum for creative ideas is the high likelihood that someone will steal your ideas. It could be unintentional or someone might copy a person's ideas exactly! By posting a creation online, people need to be prepared for and accept the fact that someone might copy it! Once it is online it is a “free game”. For some people it is a hobby; for others, it is a full-time job. Either way displaying one's beautiful works of art can be a very rewarding thing to do!

People, when debating or writing on this topic, always talk about how SNS harms people, relationships, and health. But hardly anyone mentions the fact that Social Networking Sites are enjoyable! Teens primarily use the time to talk to friends, post pictures of creations, and just have fun! It is true that if not careful, teens can get into many sticky situations, but with some precautions and some common sense, they should be fine! It is true that using SNS is not as beneficial to someone as reading a book might be, but some people do not enjoy reading books! In moderation, social networking sites are no worse than playing video games! While the amount of usage should be monitored, and online safety taught, social networking sites are no worse than any non-beneficial activity (such as video games, comic books, making mud pies outside, etc.) People could argue for hours about what has benefits and what is actually negative, but no activity is entirely perfect, and some things are not necessarily healthy but are just fun!

The internet may not be all that it is cracked up to be. People have been hurt both mentally, emotionally, and physically. Students have committed suicide because of bullying. Houses have been robbed when people have inadvertently posted about their absence. People have had their identities stolen, and Students have lost jobs and educational opportunities! But the internet is not what is on trial here; it is the people who participate. Social Networking Sites are only doing what they are programmed to do! People make money, are encouraged, have fun, perform better in school, find inspiration, chat with friends, and keep in touch with family thousands of miles away. Social networking sites can be great entertainment. So yes, social networking sites are in fact good for our society, because the real evil is what is behind the screen.

Works Cited

    1. 'Are Social Networking Sites Good for Our Society?' ProCon,, 17 Aug. 2018, Accessed 9 Jan. 2019.
    2. Conger, Cristen. 'Is Online Social Networking Good or Bad?' Discovery News. Discovery Communications, 28 Mar. 2010. `. Accessed 6 Nov. 2018.
    3. O'Keeffe, Gwenn Schurgin, et al. 'Clinical Report-The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.' American Academy of Pediatrics, Apr. 2011. Accessed 8 Jan. 2019.
    4. Wintour, Patrick. 'Facebook and Bebo Risk 'Infantilising' the Human Mind.' Guardian News and Media Limited, 24 Feb. 2009. . Accessed 6 Nov. 2018.
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