Social network as defined by Computer Science Illuminated
refers to "models of objects and their interactions and therefore they can model human or corporate interactions" (516). Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace allow users to describe themselves list their profiles, contacts, friends, family members, acquaintances and send messages or chat with those who they have listed. From this feature it is possible to draw what impact both negative and positive the social network site may have on an individual.The book Principles of Social Psychiatry
(2nd ed ) indicates that "social networking sites for example Facebook and MySpace have grown exponentially in the recent years" (478). According to the book most of them involve having a profile including a photograph and then a list of friends or contacts with which individuals profiles are linked. Principles of Social Psychiatry (2nd ed )
says that the "social concern is that internet based community groups have become a commonplace and therefore many real life social and interest groups conduct their affairs through these websites reducing the aspect of face to face communication" (478). The negative effect associated with this concern is isolation. The article Social websites harm children's brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist
by Derbyshire says that "social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace are causing alarming changes in the brains of young users". Derbyshire further says that these sites are known to shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and at the same time make the users more self centered. "Observations from both parents and teachers suggest that many young users of this social networking websites usually lack the ability to communicate or concentrate away from their screens" (Social websites harm children's brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist
)Although these social networking websites have over the time become very popular and are considered profitable, the article Social websites harm children's brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist
says that "a growing number of psychologists and neuroscientists believe they may be doing more harm than good". For example according to this article "an Oxford University neuroscientist and director of the Royal institution believes repeated exposure could effectively rewire the brain". Another argument is that these social networking websites and "technologies are considered to be infantilizing the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing messages who have a small attention span hence reducing their attention in their daily activities".Dale and Lewis also indicated that there are the downsides of social networking websites due the fact that a user has no way of confirming that the information put on the site is accurate (516). This aspect has a negative impact on the social context in which the information is being disseminated (516). Another damaging social effect according to Computer Science Illuminated
"is bullying which is a major negative effect of social network sites associated with the fact that it mostly affects teenagers, many of who can be viciously competitive and vindicate without giving thought to the consequences of their actions" (518).The book Computer Science Illuminated
continues to say that "social networking websites can be prime avenues for humiliation and bullying or cyber bullying" (518). This is because research shows that 39% of social networking users have been cyber bullied in some way or the other whereby some are known to have security patrolling the material posted on the sites for any items that might be considered bullying (Dale and Lewis 518). The major question which has been posed by Dale and Lewis is whether the benefits of social networking websites outweigh the potential costs in which the society as a whole has a much easier way to communicate, keep in touch with friends and get any important messages out to large groups of people while on the other hand people who use these social networking websites must be aware of the consequences and personal risks they may be taking by putting themselves into the social networks (518).
The mostly affected generations are both young adults and young people who are still in their schooling ages. Derbyshire in his article Social websites harm children's brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist
indicated that "instant messaging which is often profound in this social networking websites, chat rooms combined with other advanced functionalities in these websites could end up leaving a generation with poor attention spans". The article commented that "Lady Greenfield a teacher of thirty years says that she noticed a sharp decline in the ability of her pupils to understand others especially those who have being glued to these social networks for a long period of time". The article Social websites harm children's brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist
therefore continues to say that "it is hard to see how living and heavily relaying on these social networking media will result to brains or minds different from those of previous generations" (Derbyshire). This has been articulated to the fact that autistic people who find it hard to communicate are very comfortable using the computer and the social networking websites. Mitchum in his article "This is your brain in Facebook
" says that there are raised concerns that there are some damaging neural effects that result from social networking websites. Mitchum continues to say that "social networking websites may tap into basic brain systems for the users hence delivering pleasurable experiences". The article This is your brain in Facebook
thus says that the consequence of the social networking website is that "the mid twenty first century mind might almost be infantilized, characterized by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathize and a shaky sense of identity". In addition Mitchum in his article "This is your brain in Facebook
" says that "unlike with previous media technology that immersed the collective attention and spurred the fears of overprotective parents who now have the tools to study how the social networks shape the brains of its users". Mitchum further says that there are correlations between excessive use of these websites and ADHD, social anxiety and depression but few laboratories research have specifically looked at effects of such content upon the brain of the consumers.Morgan and Bhugra indicated that because people often expect immediate response to queries that in the past could take weeks or even months this has caused lack of patience among the users (480). As a result this may be additional source of stress to the recipient of the information. The book Principles of Social Psychiatry
e d) continue to indicate that another social effect of these social networking websites is the transcending prejudice (480). This is because on the internet an individual can present herself according to the way they wish unlike in face to face meeting. The book Principles of Social Psychiatry
ed) therefore says that at "one extreme an entire second or parallel life can be created on the social networking websites" (480). On the positive side it is important to note that the individual can be who he or she would wish to be and not who they are hence creating a dissonance in their identity (Morgan and Bhugra 480). Morgan and Bhugra say that the advantage is that social class, status, ethnicity, disability, sexuality may all prove to be less of a barrier in the social interaction in these social network websites (480).Another effect is reduction of face to face contact. Morgan and Bhugra indicated that this is a major concern with modern social networking websites which has been raised in the media because it reduces face to face interaction (480). The book Principles of Social Psychiatry
ed) therefore says that "the psychological effects of this are still being debated with concerns raised that this reduction of interpersonal time is damaging to a great extent individuals physical and mental health (480)". Morgan and Bhugra says that research shows that social network sites risk infantilizing the mid twenty first century mind leaving it characterized by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathize and a shaky sense of identity (480).
Ybarra and Mitchell in their article "How Risky Are Social Networking Sites
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" indicated that the" public attention has focused on the possibility that social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are being used to sexually solicit underage youth, hence increasing their vulnerability to sexual victimization". Ybarra and Mitchell in their article "How Risky Are Social Networking Sites
" continue to indicate that their research results show that "fifteen percent of all the youth reported an unwanted sexual solicitation online in the year 2007 where 4% reported an incident on through the social networking websites". Also Ybarra and Mitchell indicated that" 33% reported an online harassment in the last year (2007) were 9% reported an incident on a social networking website".Social networking websites result to lack of quality assurance.
The book Principles of Social Psychiatry
(2nd ed) says that "a further issue with modern networking and support groups is the quality of available social support and information" (481). According to the book research has highlighted the inadequacies of much of the available material within the mental health field. Morgan and Bhugra thus say that inappropriate advice and information from social network site may lead to inadvisable actions for example stopping medication (481).Another damaging effect of social network sites is ease of access to dangerous or detrimental information. Morgan and Bhugra says that through social networks it is possible to access an infinite amount of information and peer advice which may include or encompass potentially damaging advice (481). The book Principles of Social Psychiatry
(2nd ed) says that "particularly pertinent in mental health the effects includes the large number of suicide sites that discuss effective methods and therefore there have been a few cases where young people have taken their own lives while live on webcam" (481).Another effect of social networking websites involves the risk associated with anonymity. The book Principles of Social Psychiatry
(2nd e ) says that "the anonymous and user controlled internet profiles run the risk of deception" (481). The book further says that the most high profile cases of this involve adults pretending to be teenagers and grooming other young people for sexual satisfaction, to obtain photographs. The book Principles of Social Psychiatry
(2nd ed) further says that the social network sites "may even be used to arrange real life meetings and therefore at the same time there is a potential risk of people posing as professionals within a given field" (481).Cyber bullying is also another damaging effect of social network sites. According to Morgan and Bhugra the term cyber bullying has been coined to describe the observed phenomena of children and adolescents using social network websites to harass others in what could be more covert or intense than traditional bullying (481). In their further research Morgan and Bhugra indicated that a recent show on secondary school pupil in UK suggested that between 5 and 10% of these pupil reported being cyber bullied during the last term through social networks and that the victims were less likely to report or inform others than were victims of more traditional bullying. This means that cyber bullying has psychological effects on the mental health of those who undergo such instances.Addiction is also another damaging effect of social network websites. According to The book Principles of Social Psychiatry
(2nd ed) "there has been a growing discussion of the addictive nature of social network website especially in work places" (481). This has resulted to reduction in production levels in workplaces were employers report that this is due to low concentration levels. Morgan and Bhugra continue to indicate that concern has been raised that some individuals use social network sites compulsively at the expense of their real life functioning (481). They also found out that there is also growing evidence that young people with underlying mental illness are particularly vulnerable to excessive dependence on the social networking websites. Moreover, Principles of Social Psychiatry
(2nd ed) noted that another negative effect of social networking websites is that they result to communication underclass. This is because all these new computer based technologies require a degree of information technology literacy and access to the appropriate equipment. Consequently increasing reliance by charities on these social networks on the internet runs the risk of creating communication underclass whereby individuals who do not have the skills or finances to access the websites may not communicate effectively with the rest of the world (Morgan and Bhugra 481). According to the book Gift of Fire
"people have found unexpected uses of social networking sites some good, some bad and some quirky" (11). The negative social impact is that friends may post racy profiles of friends as pranks, sometimes generating laughs, serious embarrassment and hates. Gift of Fire also says that ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends and others may post false and damaging profiles causing what may be seen more of a social dilemma. Social network sites increases a member's number of friends and contacts but the relationships are considered to be more superficial than in person relationships (11).Baase says that the time spent on social networks reduces the time spent on physical activities (11). This poses a major challenge on the aspect of staying healthy. Besides this challenge Mitchum in his article "This is your brain in Facebook" says that the "rapid changes that result from prolonged use of social network websites whether they are beneficial or detrimental to humans have led to change in our environment were individuals spending hours and hours with technology".The effect of these social networking websites is still being felt at the employment sector. Pickard is particularly concerned that social networking in the workplace can damage the productivity of an organization both by distracting employees from their work and by wasting IT system resources (69). The book Facilities Management Legal Update 2008: Special Report
established that use of social network websites leads to "personal fraud leading to potential loss of business data, because there is a risk that where employees identify themselves online as working for a particular employer, it may lead to potential fraudsters in gathering information to use against the company". Social networking heightens the risk of loss of data because users perceive the environments as being inherently social and therefore unthreatening (Pickard 69).In conclusion, Principles of Social Psychiatry
(2nd ed) indicates that "the advent of social networks site and their rapid use in the society have important repercussions for mental health in the most general sense" (481). Social networks together with the mediums that are used to avail them to the users are influencing negatively the health, capabilities and social life of the users and the population at large. Therefore, while the importance of social network websites and other internet based technologies will continue to increase the damaging effects of social networks will expand even further and pose considerable number of challenges to the users and the future generations.