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    Essay on Social Networking: Harmful or Helpful? Essay

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    Individuals in developed and developing countries are becoming more addicted to social media and its applications for various reasons. The reasons can lead to social and personal lifestyle changes both academically and off-academic.
    South African students are becoming social media addicts, according to studies by researchers World Wide Worx and Student Brands, social media assists with their social and academic lives.
    The 2013 SA High-tech Student research study was conducted at universities and colleges across South Africa, this study included interviews with 1435 students. Over 59% said they were addicted to social media, 16% were highly addicted and 18% said that they were “definitely not addicted”. A similar result was calculated regarding Instant Messaging (IM). 62% said they were addicted and 22% were highly addicted to the quick chat option.
    Students did not feel that the addiction was necessarily a bad or good thing. However, 45% felt that social media affected them negatively during their studies at college and university. 10% felt as if social media was a constant disruption. Surprisingly 85% said that it did somehow improve their studies while 83% believed that social media enhanced their social lives.
    “Asked what impact Technology like smartphones and the internet had on their lives in general, 81q said it enhanced their quality of life. “
    “For students, social networking and the internet is not good or a bad thing in itself, but has become an integral part of their lives,” Daryl Bartkunsky, managing director of Student Brands, said in a statement.
    In favor of Facebook
    The universal social destination for students was Facebook with 96% of users and Twitter came in second place with 70% of respondents. Google+ was used by 47% of users which made it the third most used, due to Google Apps for student accounts at universities. Lastly Mxit with 39% of respondents.
    The professional network LinkedIn at 29% of respondents as this was widely used by students who have almost completed their studies to seek employment. The fairly new Instagram and Pinterest attracted 16% and 15% of respondents.
    “When asked which network they would use if they could only choose one, two-thirds (64%) still cited Facebook. Twitter was in instant second at 16% followed by Google+ with 7%, Instagram at 5%, Mxit at 3%, and LinkedIn at 3%. Only 1% favored Pinterest.
    Instant Messaging
    Students that participated in surveys showed more interest in Whatsapp, 79% to be exact. B BM at 57% of respondents, 45% of respondents leaned towards Facebook messenger, and 28% for Mxit.
    “BBM use was directly correlated with the proportion of students who used Blackberry: 57%. Despite its fading popularity worldwide, it remained the preferred phone among students. Noki was in a distant second place, at only 20% with Samsung further back in third place, at 1 4%, and the iPhone fourth at 5%.”
    South African surveys found that 68% of students connected to the internet via smartphones, “6 1%vua laptops or notebooks, computers, 50% on desktop PCs -and 20% on tablets. This trend
    was driven by some institutions providing laptops and tablets to students, and low-cost financing of devices by students financial services like Eduloan.”
    “In terms of a channel of access, 60% used Wi-Fi on campus, 40% used 3G modems, and 39% used mobile data on their phones. However, a total shift to Wi-Fi is expected in the next two years.” “By 2015, all universities are required to be wireless, providing free internet access for students,” Bartkunsky said. “Already, the University of Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town has stated that all first-year Students will have to have a tablet or laptop by 2015.”
    “World Wide Worx MD Arther Goldstuck pointed out that the cost of mobile data was a major inhibitor for students.”
    “A little more than a third of respondents were happy with what they pay for internet access,” Goldstuck said. “But 31% are unhappy with the cost and 30% don’t pay at all. For students, the move away from mobile data services is a matter of when not if.”
    Characteristics of users of social media
    Social networking sites are being used worldwide. Research shows that around 73% of adult users of the internet use social networking sites (Duggan & Smith 2013). Many individuals use Facebook but more than 50% use a number of social networking sites.
    Social networking sites are most likely to be used by the younger generation. They also use these sites more often and their number of friends on social networking sites is higher than that of older individuals, that use social media (Arjan & Zaphiris 2009).
    Habitval social media use
    An example of habitual social media use could be that of a person who frequently uses the site because he or she does not want to miss out on what’s happening. This behavior is explained by the users and gratification theory. The first gratification relates to maintenance. Therefore through social media use, the youth are always in touch with their friends and are able to manage and maintain their relationships. The youth can also enjoy freedom of expression as social
    media enables them to discuss all issues that affect them socially, politically, and economically. Social media empowers the youth from an information perspective. The youth who engage information-seeking behavior are more likely to keep track of current affairs, making them relevant to the society they live in.
    Social media is becoming a part of our society changing social norms and culture (Al-Sharq, Hashim, and Kutbi, 2005). Information and content sharing is now a social desire (Wolf et al. 2015). It has changed how many people interact, communicate and socialize in learning institutions. The new media mostly provides robust connectivity, communication, and content showing among students and the rest of society. At this point, one can say that social media influences youth’s daily life path and particularly the students (Rajeev. 2015)
    My review
    My belief based on the above literature review is that social media has both positive and negative effects on individuals. It shows that the younger generation seems more active on social media. Individuals are intrigued by the simple cheapest way of communication. Facebook and W WhatsApp are the most popular social media influences. University and college students seem to have much more mature minds and ways of using social media to make their lives easier and more efficient. As much as being addicted to social media may be seen as bad but it also has its pros, information is quicker to get, and communication is faster and better. Sharing pictures and building relationships are easier and feeling accepted in the social world also seems to be si mple. Social media also grows as time passes, different and upgraded apps are quick to download and even quicker to use. Using social media is a responsibility, and it depends if it’s taken advantage of or if it’s being abused by the user.

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