Sunday, July 24, 2011

Being Social Online Means Being Social In Life

As a proponent of social media, I am often met by those who have not joined these waters with comments like:

  • "Students can't even learn to speak properly to each other face-to-face. We need to get that straight before we focus on communicating online."
  • "If I want to speak to someone, I'll pick up the phone or make a plan to meet them."
  • "I prefer real connections."
  • "Social media is making people less social. They don't go out in the real world anymore."
My response is generally that our online behavior is generally an extension of our in life behavior and that social media doesn't change that, rather it offers new ways to connect.  Well our friends at Pew Internet & American Life Project released a new report about Social networking sites and our lives which supports beliefs like mine and disputes the perceptions of the nay sayers.  

In the report they answer whether or not social networking hindered off line activity and interactions.  The answer is clear, it most certainly does not.  Not only do social networks fail to retard offline growth, they actually help users develop connections and form stronger relationships in the real world.

Here are some of the interesting stats revealed in the report.  
  • Only 3% of users’ Facebook friends have never met in person.  While 89% of all Facebook friends have met in person more than once.
  • Internet users have a much more diverse network than those who don’t use the internet.  
  • The average user of a social networking site has more close ties than a non-Internet user and is half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American.
  • Users are more trusting of others than non-Internet users.
  • Social networking users may have more of a life than non-internet users.  A higher percentage of users partake in a community group, sports league or youth group than a non-internet user.
  • Users are more likely to know their neighbors’ names than non-internet users
The next time a nay sayer tells you why social networking online doesn’t lead to social development in life, you can give em the stats that say otherwise.  

Read Full Report

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