Social Media Saturday - Positives and Negatives

Saturday, 5 February 2011
Welcome to Social Media Saturday. Watch this space for giveaways and guest posts by other social media folks.

David from Carson-Newman College contacted me recently to ask me questions about social media. He is gathering research and perspective for a student seminar. Here's a look at his questions and my answers. Feel free to post your thoughts too.

How do college students use social media different than other adults?

College students use social media as a regular social interaction tool. While adults may have to remember to log in to Facebook once or twice a week, some college kids remain logged in all day.

College students also use social media as a constant source of information. Whether it's to monitor national news or find out if a friend is feeling better, students now rarely use the phone to stay in touch.
What are the benefits of being active in the world of social media?

Those who are active in the world of social media are "in the know." Social media users were the first to know about Michael Jackson's death, the first to know about Giffords' shooting and the first to get updates on the deteriorating conditions in Egypt.

Social media users also learn modern interaction skills. Some people may be able to connect with friends, make new friends and stay in touch with peer groups more easily.

What are the negatives?

I think the main negative aspect of social media is a loss of privacy. Opinions, pictures and status updates are not easy to "delete." Once on Facebook or Twitter, a person's words can easily and quickly be used against them. That's where the term "viral" comes into play. If someone passes on one's information (video, picture, post) to someone else, it can quickly spread to other users and possibly ruin reputations or negatively impact a job or school opportunity. The social media world is instant. A post which is presented in anger, but later regretted, is difficult, if not impossible to reverse.

What protections would you recommend for those tweet, facebook, etc.?

Social media users should use privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter. My Facebook page is private and I only allow friends to see photos and status updates. I also have a "work" Facebook page where I interect daily with viewers and friends but do not list private information.

I also have a "locked" Twitter account. That means only those with an active Twitter account can request to follow me. This prevents any random person from follow my tweets and "watching" me online.

The use of 4-Square or applications which give the user's current location is alarming. The "check-in" is a marketing tool for restaurants, book stores and retail corporations (and isn't interesting to other social media users). It provides an easy way for others to see where someone is and what time they arrived.

Are there new trends or sites that are rapidly growing in popularity?

LinkedIn is a site I would recommend to senior undergraduate students. It is a "professional" sort of Facebook where people in an industry can network. This is a great tool to use while searching for a job or internship.

Whohub is also an interesting site. Users can post mini-blogs about themselves while answering certain questions. This is a helpful self-awareness site and a fun way to learn more about friends and professors.

3 comments

(Florida) Girl said...

Have you seen the movie 'The Social Network'? It is so interesting that facebook started out as a college thing.

(Florida) Girl said...

PS I answered your question on my blog post today.

Denae said...

Loved Social Network. One of my favorite movies this year and inspiring.