Although people certainly still meet others at social venues like clubs and parties, it is safe to say that tools like Facebook and Twitter have profoundly changed most people’s lives and how they interact with each other and the world around them.
Social media have forever changed the way society works, for instance the way people share ideas, the communication of news or how we express an opinion.
They also have benefits for business owners, as it allows them to reach out to their customers and get the attention of more people at lower cost and with more targetting than traditional advertising. For media companies and journalists, there are no longer overnight trips, nor will they need to communicate by phone or meet people in person, as social media provide more means to get in touch with sources.
In social media you just choose the people and groups that you want to follow on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks. In doing this, you know who is recommending the news, and can easily communicate with that person about it. But that is not all.
Adrianna Murto is a Spanish student who is currently studying in Ireland. She says she uses Facebook to be in touch with her family and friends in Spain.
“For me, Facebook is really good and helpful. It is hard to imagine growing up without social media. All my family is on Facebook, so I am studying here in Ireland we communicate with each other every day, and we get to know each other’s news, rather than using phone calls, which are quite expensive.”
Adrianna adds that for students, social media make life easier.
“It really helps us as students, we have a Facebook page where we share all class information about exams, subjects, homework and among others.”
On top of all that, social media has been the source from which many people around the world get their news.
For many people, before they check Yahoo or Google news or an online newspaper site in the morning, they first look at the stories their friends and people they follow are sharing via Twitter or Facebook.
They are also quicker and easier ways to reach an audience rather than using press releases: you can just do a Facebook post with some images and it reaches an audience quicker.
“Facebook makes my work easier as I work for an environmental organisation and we do quite lots of press releases — we can reach an audience directly without needing to go via journalist, newspapers or magazines” says Jack Jackson, an environmental lawyer. “We can put up regular posts on Facebook and they can be shared and liked by lots of people. We can reach more than 10,000 people with decent posts.”
Jackson says he uses Facebook even more for personal reasons: keeping in touch with friends and family, and that Twitter is a work tool. “With Twitter I can keep in touch with lots of issues that are happening around the world and keep updated in terms of news and development in the area I work in.”
Even if social media make life easier, you need to think twice before posting anything online.
Andrew Jackson, the National Anti-Bullying Coordinator says social media is good for everyone’s daily life, but beware of oversharing: “You need to think twice about everything you put online because it will never get deleted, it gets shared or retweeted. So only put online what you would not mind your grandchild seeing in the future. Do not share online images or posts you will in the future be embarrassed about.”
Parents are often the worst culprits, Andrew adds. “Today we see children who cannot walk or talk but they have massive digital images shared by their parents. Before sharing their photos, parents should think about what type of information their children want to see about themselves online at a later date.”
Sharing children’s information online, Andrew says, can put a child at risk in the present and in the future.
A recent US study found that 63 per cent of mothers use Facebook; of these, 97 per cent said they post pictures of their children; 89 per cent post status updates about them, and 46 per cent post videos.
Social media, for all the positive things they bring, still need to be handled with care.
By Seraphine Habimana