Bettering Friendships and Breaking News: Why Social Media Isn’t All Bad

By Noam Levy (Correspondent)

About 74% of Americans use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in their daily lives.

While the rise of social media in the past decade was immediately matched by opponents of the sites’ tendency to promote insecurity and isolation, advocates of social media say that online communities promote academic resources, more interaction with friends and family, and better access to breaking news.

“Many researchers are posting videos, photos, and blog posts about different subjects, making it easier for people to look up information needed for educational purposes,” says Abrar Kahn, a student researcher at North Carolina Central University.

Kahn says that social networks offer an enriched learning experience. Academics can collaborate on social networking sites to share data about their research and findings.

According to the National School Board Association (NSBA), 59% of students with access to the Internet say that they use social media to discuss academic topics.

“I use social media for school a lot, usually to communicate with friends about homework or upcoming assignments,” says SHS sophomore Christina Linehan.

The NSBA also says that about 50% of students who participate in social media discuss schoolwork in particular.

“Social network sites like Facebook can be used as environments that support learning but also as places where youth learn as well as environments that can help youth be more civically and academically engaged,” said Reynol Junco, a psychologist at Iowa State University.

Junco says that using Facebook for teaching and learning can promote support knowledge construction, active learning, and most importantly student engagement.

“As teens prepare to enter the adult social world, online social environments provide training wheels, allowing young people to practice interaction with others in the safety of their homes,” says Brendesha Tynes, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois

Social media allows people to better maintain long-term relationships, enhance their existing friendships, and make new friends, thus improving their quality of life and reducing the risk of health problems.

“Social media sites have created new and non-personal ways for people to interact with others and young adults have taken advantage of this technological trend,” says Megan Sponcil, a researchers at Youngstown State University.

According to a recent study conducted by IBM, about 70% of young adults in America visit social media websites to connect with friends and family.

“Nearly nine out of 10 teens (88%) say social media has helped them keep in touch with friends they can’t see regularly, 69% say it has helped them get to know other students at their school better, and 57% say it has connected them with new people with whom they share a common interest or hobby,” said leaders of a recent study by Common Sense.

Social media also acts as a powerful tool for spreading information. It allows news to spread faster and farther than any other communication method to date.

According to a recent study from the Annual Report on American Journalism, “Over 50% of people have learned about breaking news from social media rather than TV news outlets.”

Millions of people across the world heard about Osama Bin Laden’s death, the announcement of the royal wedding, and the Egyptian uprising from Twitter the second it happened.

Sharon High School junior Eli Hearne says he only recently became aware of how important a role social media takes in spreading news today. “I was surprised that Twitter was the main outlet for information during the Orlando shooting,” he said.

“Since 2008, traffic to news sites from social media platforms had increased by 57%,” said a researcher at the University of Florida.

According to a recent study, almost 46% of people get their news online at least three times a week.

“The world is changing at a speed we could never have imagined before, and people now use social technology to help shape the world’s events and culture,” says Marc Benioff, a contributor to BCC News.

Benioff added the social web and mobile technologies have accelerated the rate at which relationships develop, information is shared, and influence takes hold.

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