In today’s world where the Internet has experienced tremendous growth, social networking sites have become highly significant in students’ lives. The aim of the study was to analyze the impact of social media on students. To achieve this, the survey research method was used. Three research questions guided the study. Research findings showed that a great number of students had access to the internet. Survey technique, interview, and online observation were the research methods used. Findings show that students spend more time on these sites. It was also found that virtual interaction taking place in these sites has been just a supplement to real life interaction. To this end, the researcher recommended that sites should be created for educational purposes as well. This is to create a balance between social networking and academic activities of students to avoid setbacks in the academic performance of the students.
We are living in a world primarily characterized by objects in motion. Appadurai (2001) states that, “These objects include ideas and ideologies, people and goods, images and messages, technologies and techniques”. Media has always played a crucial role in the stepping up of globalization and Internet can be considered as a breakthrough in the globalization era. The Internet has provided an opportunity to build a global communication base that would link people around the world together. It allows groups of computers to interact simultaneously. This technical consideration signifies that the Internet can support and mediate new forms of communication, thus bettering the social relationship between individuals.
Miller and Slater (2000) argue that most discussions of the Internet have accentuated both the abolition of distance and a following detaching of relationships from particular place. In their research they showed this conclusion to be deceptive. They state that, “the Internet media are very capable of bringing dispersed things into immediate, virtually face-to-face, contact: prices and commodities, families, music, cultures, religious and ethnic diasporas” (Miller & Slater, 2000, . They found that in some countries, online relationships were treated similarly to offline relationships and therefore they emphasize that Internet is not a virtual or a disembodied world set off from the real but connected to the everyday lives of the people. This theory is tested by comparing the impact of social network on students’ lives.
With Web 2.0 technologies, the Internet has become a communication platform on which virtual communities are formed and it provides scope for interactivity, collaborative learning, social networking and participation (Flew, 2007). So, there are tremendous advancements taking place and most importantly youngsters form the majority of the consumers.
In order to examine the Internet in a more precise and measurable way, this study focuses on social networking sites. Social networking sites (SNSs) are now among the fastest growing Internet resources. The chances for the young people to form and maintain relationships on the Internet have increased in the last few years. SNSs have become the choice for the youngsters, who reach out to others on the web, receiving and distributing information on a real-time basis. Today almost each and every youngsters has a profile and is part of the virtual world. There are different types of SNSs depending on the relationships they focus. In this study only generic friend SNSs like Facebook are concentrated.
The key point to examine is not only what is happening on these sites but also why it is happening since human beings relate to people both in the virtual world as well as real world. Nowadays, young people seek to have more interactive communication and have become producers of content rather than consumers. This seminar primarily focuses on college going students since youth or young people cannot be defined to a specific age group. The effectiveness of virtual communities and the impact the SNSs have created among students. Media consumption habits and preferences show a discrepancy significantly across the countries, where one is a developing and the other is a developed country.
While social network sites have implemented a wide variety of technical features, their backbone consists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends who are also users of the system. Profiles are unique pages where one can “type oneself into being” Sunder (2003, p. 3). After joining a social network site, an individual is asked to fill out forms containing a series of questions. The profile is generated using the answers to these questions, which typically include descriptors such as age, location, interests, and an “about me” section. Most sites also encourage users to upload a profile photo. Some sites allow users to enhance their profiles by adding multimedia content or modifying their profile’s look and feel. Others, such as Facebook, allow users to add modules (“Applications”) that enhance their profile.
After joining a social network site, users are asked to identify others in the system with which they have a relationship. Most social network sites require bi-directional confirmation for Friendship, but some do not. These one-directional ties are sometimes labelled as “Fans” or “Followers,” but many sites call these Friends as well. The term “Friends” can be misleading, because the connection does not necessarily mean friendship in the everyday vernacular sense, and the reasons people connect are varied (Boyd, 2006).
These sites also provide a mechanism for users to leave messages on their Friends’ profiles. This feature typically involves leaving “comments,” although sites employ various labels for this feature. In addition, social networks often have a private messaging feature similar to webmail. While both private messages and comments are popular on most of the major networking sites, they are not universally available.
Beyond profiles, Friends, comments, and private messaging, network sites vary greatly in their features and user base. Some have photo-sharing or video-sharing capabilities; others have built-in blogging and instant messaging technology. There are mobile-specific social network sites (e.g., Dodgeball), but some web-based sites also support limited mobile interactions (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, and Cyworld). Many networking sites target people from specific geographical regions or linguistic groups, although this does not always determine the site’s consistency. Orkut, for example, was launched in the United States with an English-only interface, but Portuguese-speaking Brazilians quickly became the dominant user group (Kopytoff, 2004). Some sites are designed with specific ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, political, or other identity-driven categories in mind. There are even sites for dogs (Dogster) and cats (Catster), although their owners must manage their profiles. This then brings to mind the fact that everyone needs to interact both humans and animals alike.
Social network sites (SNSs) such as MySpace, Facebook, Youtube, Skype etc, have attracted millions of users, many of whom have integrated these sites into their daily practices. People consume a lot of time on this sites uploading or downloading, getting information concerning their career or academic work. People are always online every second, chatting with friends, watching online movies, doing research. Social site has become an habit for some people, they find it difficult to study for one hour without logn to one network site. Some people have become very smart because of the information they get from this sites, why some have become very poor academically, because it easy to get almost any materials for school assignment.
It is assumed that the consumption of social media where Internet plays a vital role generally ascends with socio-economic status. Hence a significant need to figure out how far the change has influenced students makes it essential to survey and explore as to why youngsters prefer and interact with the social media.
The first version of instant messaging came about in 1988 with Internet Relay Chat (IRC). IRC was Unix-based, limiting access for most people. It was used for link and file sharing, and generally keeping in touch with one another. Geocities was among the first social networking sites on the internet, launching its website in 1994. Its intent was to allow users to create their own websites, dividing them into groups based on the website’s content. In 1995, TheGlobe.com was launched, offering users the ability to interact with people who held the same interests and publish their own content. Two years later, in 1997, AOL Instant Messenger and SixDegrees.com were launched. This was the year instant messaging became popular and it was the first time internet users were able to create a profile and be-friend each other.
Based on the findings and conclusions of this study, the following recommendations were listed:
1. Social networking sites should be expanded to enhance academic activities to avoid setbacks in the students’ learning.
2. The students should create a balance between chit-chatting and academic activities. More attention should be directed to research.
3. There should be a decrease in the number of time spent by students when using these social network sites.
4. The impact of social media on students and how they should focus more on the positive side than on the negative side to achieve balance.
5. The use of social networking sites that are centered on academic life rather than strictly social life can be implemented. The likes of (academia.edu, skoola.com) and so many others.
6. The use of social networking sites should be implemented as a tool for learning in institutions.
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