“You’ll get square eyes” is what concerned mothers used to tell their children, to discourage too much TV viewing. I guess today’s equivalent warning to social network users would be “You won’t get any real friends, you know”. But is that true?
At a recent lunch, I asked my neighbouring diners if they used social media at all. Blimey! You’d think I’d asked them if they often ran naked down Grantham High Street! “But it’s so bad for people and must be damaging to real relationships” one of them protested.
Questions have often been raised about the social impact of the use of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. A widely-held view (amongst non-users anyway) has been that users become isolated and withdrawn, with stunted relationships. Almost like high-tech hermits. Well that’s not the case it seems. In fact, the opposite is true – social media users feel much less isolated than others.
According to research just out from America’s Pew Research Center, social media users are more trusting, have closer relationships and receive more social support than non-users.
The study also found that social media helps people revive dormant relationships (I can vouch for that, having renewed several old friendships through Facebook and LinkedIn) and enables people to keep up with close social ties.
The report comes as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn continue to ingrain themselves in our daily lives and change the way we engage with friends, colleagues and long-lost school friends.
Right, I’m off to find out what my friends are up to now!
You can see the research summary here.