Does social media bring families together or tear them apart?

Because when families disconnect from the internet, they connect.

As it can be observed in this video Dolmio has invented a Pepper Hacker- a tool that shuts down Wi-Fi signal and TV to help bring families together. Now stop for a second and think- how addicted to technology have we become if we can’t spare an hour to have dinner with our family? And is browsing the Internet more important than spending time with the people you love? Probably not.

I will repeat something that I’ve written previously in the blog- Internet has conquered our daily life. The first thing we do when we wake up is not to brush our teeth but to check our cell phone, we do it when we eat our breakfast or lunch, as well as while we are having dinner. We have forgotten how to enjoy family time and this time I’m not only talking about teenagers, but parents too. “Children complain that they don’t have their parents full attention” comments Sherry Turkle. Adults are always busy with writing e-mails or reading the news that sometimes they end up ignoring their own children. I believe this video illustrates my point flawlessly.

On the other hand, social media can be useful for parent because it allows them to follow their kids and know exactly what they are doing. Of course, there are privacy settings that can authorize only certain people to see posts or photos but not all teenagers are aware of that. There are hundreds of stories for parties that have been shut down before they have even begun, just because a parent saw his child’s updated status saying: “my parents are on a vacation. party 2night at my place”. Facebook is a powerful controlling tool, indeed. Not only mom and dad can reveal their kid’s location but also they can understand who is accompanying him, what is the plan for the night and other information that they may not need to receive. Of course, social media and apps like Skype and Viber don’t have only disadvantages. They are a great way for parents to interface with children who study in a different city or country. Children can keep them informed all the time, send them videos , pictures and make their parents miss them less.

To summarise, technology is something amazing that is developing each day. It gives us thousands of opportunities to share and communicate and it is up to us to use it wisely. Will social media unite a family or draw it apart depends on its members. Young people need to remember to call their parents often when they are away, but to put down the phone and enjoy the time they spend together. The same goes for adults, those texts and e-mails can wait.


Connected, but alone?

In 2011 Sherry Turkle, who has done research on psychoanalysis and human-technology interaction published the book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.  In it she suggests that “we’re getting used to a new way of being alone together. We are designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.” How technologies and social media have changed the way we interact with friends? How do we tend to find friends? And are all of the 500 people we have on our Facebook friend list really our friends?

Yes, technology’s main purpose is to unite humans but turns out that in fact it makes us feel lonelier. Years ago people used to find friends in school, university, their workplace or simply on the street. Today, apps like JoinU, Skout and Meetup exist. These new technologies help people to connect with random people located nearby. Of course, the most common way of finding new companions is Facebook. Almost everyone has an account and it is extremely easy to approach someone. All you have to do is send a friend request or a message. Like every other communication, after a while people become close to each other even if they’ve never met in real life and consider each other friends. One by one people pile up hundreds of new contacts and in the end they don’t really make a difference between a real and an online friend. Interacting in social media can cause problems for adolescent who need to develop face-to-face relationships, for instance. We live in times when children aged 6 possess an iPhone, tablet and/or a computer. They find it hard to communicate with other kids in real life because they prefer to spend their time on the phone or chatting online. Another way in which technology puts obstacles in conversing with mates is when they have finally met and everybody is on their phones non-stop. Seems like teenagers are scared to talk face-to-face because there is no edit button; they cannot delete what they’ve said. While online they can present the self that they want to be- pretty, intelligent, generally better than what they really are. There is a huge amount of videos talking about the overuse of phones. I decided to showcase this one, it is called “Look up” and has over 50 million views on Youtube. In my opinion the video presents life very accurately and will make every person stop for a minute and think. My favorite part is when he says:

“When you’re too busy looking down, you don’t see the chances you miss. So don’t get into life where you follow the hype, give people your love, don’t give them your like. Look up from your phone, shut down those displays, live life the real way.”

Video links:

When did communication between people change?

Many people cannot believe that it has been only 11 years since Facebook was founded. Many people cannot imagine life without social media and wonder how people were able to communicate before it was created. In this first blog, I am going to examine the development and evolution of social media and also provide some interesting statistics.

nnAs Wikipedia suggest, Facebook is an online social networking service that was launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and his college roommates. It was initially created to facilitate communication between Harvard students. Since 2006, the site has become accessible by anyone who is at least 13 years old. According to Forbes, the real time net worth of Facebook is $36.1 Billion. It is definitely the most preferred and used social networking site ever created. Now it has more than 1.23 billion users and I believe that this number speaks for itself. Of course, there were other instant message programs developed prior to Facebook like ICQ which was released in 1996 and was quite popular for its time.

The beginning of the 21st century brought big development in social media as in 2002 the site Friendster was launched. It allowed people to register and create their own profile, add friends, create and share online content and media as well. By that time it had over 90 million registered users and 90% of its traffic came from Asia. Today, the site has been redesign and transformed into a social gamming site.

Moving forward in time, 2003 was the year when both LinkedIn and MySpace were released.  Besides that, Skype as a telecommunications application software product was launched in the same year having great success. It has 300 million users and almost 5 million daily active ones.

2 years later, or exactly 10 years ago, the video platform Youtube was introduced to the public. According to the site it has more than 1 billion users and 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute. This site is huge and it is not only used for sharing video content, but for advertising as well. Statistics suggests that more than a million advertisers are using Google ad platforms.

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Lastly, I will mention the development of Twitter in 2006. The mission of this site is “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” And without a doubt, the site manages to do that for all of its 288 million monthly active users who send 500 million Tweets per day.

Now, having read this entire information, people may question their perception of time because it really has been only slightly over 10 years since all these sites were launched. Communication has evolved enormously over that period. Nowadays, people will stare at someone who doesn’t have a Facebook account and that may even decrease this person’s chances for further communication. The truth is that social media has taken over human lives in any aspect- they feel the need to update their status every day, upload new videos and pictures of themselves, what they are eating and places they visit. Next blogs will refer to people’s motivation of going online and how the social media has changed the way we converse with family, friends, colleagues and total strangers. Moreover, some of the risks of going online will be examined and solutions for avoiding them will be provided.