Social Networking: What are the Consequences?
Social networking has become the norm for this generation, and it does not seem to be going away anytime soon. There are more negatives than positives when it comes to social networking. A lot of damage can be caused by what people post on the web that can potentially tarnish a person’s career, love life, and/or friendships. Many things that someone thought they have left in the past can soon be brought up to haunt that individual in the future if not careful. In the cyber world where negatives outweigh the positives, people must take precautions on what they post or say via internet.
There are three types of conflicts that arise when excessive use of technology is used. The three types of conflicts are family, people, and work and excessive use can and will enhance your cognitive thinking or preoccupation (Zheng and Lee). Zheng and Lee examined how people with excessive use of technology by using research models that they tested with almost five hundred social networking users. “Our findings significantly contribute to the domain of “dark side of information technology” by theoretically and empirically investigating the negative outcomes of excessive use, and further examining their inter-relationships” (Zheng and Lee). There is indeed satisfaction and joy being achieved when using social networks just as a small child has that same satisfaction when receiving a chocolate bar, but what happens when we have too much of it? Having too much of something can hurt someone in the long-run. As for the small child, if having too much of that chocolate bar, that child may face obesity and/or diabetes. As for social networking users, we completely abandon the real world and later become depressed. It is a belief that Zheng and Lee are confirming that there is no wrong in enjoying what you like to do but to simply limit yourself is what we all need to learn to do to prevent future hardships.
In fact, excessive use of social networks can be deemed as a behavioral addiction. Behavioral addictions are non-drug related addictions such as gaming, food, shopping, etc. For many, the internet is like a drug; something that must be had all day and everyday. The internet is seen as substance dependence and can cause social impairments and drinking motives (Hormes 1). “There are at least three possible ways in which use of SNSs and alcohol consumption may be linked: (1) exposure to substance use in traditional mass media outlets such as television or radio has long been known as a risk factor for alcohol and other drug use in adolescents, and SNSs may similarly serve to disseminate information that shapes perceived social norms for adolescent alcohol use, (2) alcohol use may encourage excessive or maladaptive use of SNSs, for example by providing a novel platform to engage in “risky” behaviors while intoxicated (e.g., posting embarrassing or revealing information on SNSs when consuming alcohol, akin to the phenomenon of “drunk dialing”), and (3) there may be shared risk factors that increase susceptibility to both alcohol-related problems and excess SNS use.” (Hormes 1).
Everyone has heard “I didn’t mean to post that; I was drunk”. Social networking and alcohol or drugs is an extremely risky combination that can sever your future. Say goodbye to that college you wanted to attend or that job you have been longing for. Social networking can be seen to lead to depression and can lead to drinking problems. Hormes has done a study to examine how people that are unable to access the internet have elevated in irritability, anger, and alcoholic consumption. She has stated that disruptive use of the internet elevates individuals’ drinking motives. “Preliminary research suggests that excess use of SNSs in young adults may also be associated with a heightened risk for problem drinking, with those meeting proposed criteria for “disordered SNS use” scoring significantly higher on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test” (Hormes 1).
As with all addictions; it causes strains on relationships and the love life. Relationships are broken due to lack of attention and time on the significant other, but instead instilling that time into the web. Some get help when it is too late, and some never do. When addiction destroys a life; one might think that may be the time to go and seek assistance from a professional. When is enough—enough? Innocent social networking leads to addiction that leads to abandonment of reality then leads to depressions and then potentially suicidal thoughts. “After spending much of his childhood playing video games, Charlie Bracke realized that his constant gaming as an adult was out of control: He says he had flunked out of three colleges, lost a girlfriend and washed out as a real estate agent” (Ladika). Rehabilitation centers is the only thing to turn to when it seems you have lost it all. There is nothing more to lose, but there is a whole lot to gain. Gaining your confidence back is the first step, and gaining your life back would be the next. “They began calling treatment centers and help lines and found reSTART, a rehab center for internet, gaming and virtual reality addiction based in Fall City, Wash. After more than a year in treatment, Bracke now has a full-time job as a Costco merchandiser and is studying accounting. He attends 12-step support groups, meets with a therapist and shares his story about battling technology addiction with others at restart” (Ladika).”
Charlie knew he had to start somewhere, anywhere. The only way to go was up in his situation. He now shares his past hardships as inspiration for others battling internet addictions that have taken control of people’s well-being. Many use the internet, gambling, food, as a coping mechanism for problems that they do not wish to deal with. For Charlie, he used technology as a coping mechanism. Addiction specialists have claimed that the same way someone is overly-dependent on drugs or alcohol is used the same way for technology addiction (Ladika). Addiction should only be held accountable by the user not the creator. As humans, we have the willpower to refuse or to put something to a halt. We often times tend to blame others and make excuses for our foolish behavior. “The debate is occurring as several former technology industry insiders have accused software companies of intentionally creating addictive products, although defenders of the companies say they should not be blamed for making products that keep users engaged” (Ladika). Users are to blame for addiction; no one else. Like a drug, would it make sense to blame the negative consequences surrounding the addiction on the creator of that drug or the user? Sure, we can blame the creator to some extent, but the only one allowing this to repetively occur is the one using it. That goes for any and all addictions.
As for young children, parents have become enablers by encouraging the use at an early age. As a child, I would go run around the backyard and play on the swings. I thought being physical was way more fun than just sitting in one place. As an adult, I have witnessed many children on their smart phones or laptops completely oblivious to what is going on around them. Parents are repeating themselvess over and over again when talking to their children because that child is too preoccupied with technology. “According to an open letter to Apple by a group of concerned investors, the average American child receives his or her first smartphone at age 10, and teens spend more than 4.5 hours per day on their smartphones, not counting time spent texting and talking. Nearly 80 percent of teens said they check their phones at least every hour” (Ladika). At the age of 10, 4.5 hours is quite a bit to spend on technology. A 10 year old should be performing physical activities such as nature walks, climbing trees, playing on swings, etc. The 4.5 hours does not even count the texting and talking that they do, which means quite a bit of time is dedicated to disregarding their surroundings. To many, it is simply a habit to go and reach for your phone when you feel the slightest bit bored. It is almost as if our brain just tells us to reach for it even when we have no need for it at that moment.
Dangers can be surfaced by not only by the user but from other users. The internet has a way of a user being able to go into incognito mode. Being incognito means you are free to surf the web anonymously with no trace. “The network, a vast system of linked computers that use identity-masking software, helps protect political dissidents and journalists in repressive regimes from revealing their location, communications or website browsing habits and risking government surveillance or reprisal” (Clemmitt). Not only does it help political dissidents and journalists protect their identity; it can protect the identity of a criminal. Incognito mode may have been innocently created to protect journalists and such from reprisal, but it is also protecting those who pose a danger for society. Child pornographers and drug dealers have used this feature to hide away in their scandals (Clemitt). The dark web is where sex traffickers, cartels, and etc use anonymous technology to gain revenue and recruits for their line of work. This way they will be harder to track by law officials.
“ The Dark Web has “so much potential, both good and bad",” says Joseph Nedelec, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of Cincinnati. “The problem is, how do we allow for the freedom of expression, the opportunity to be private, but at the same time manage the nefarious activity?” (Clemitt). Clearly, things don’t normally work in the way it was intended for. Let’s take sites like craigslist and backpage for example. Craiglist and backpage were used for services, jobs, selling or buying a good, but was instead used illegally. Drugs, illegal guns, and prostitution all came as a result from sites like these. Their intent was to serve the community in a much legal manner. Instead, backpage was terminated and craiglist has rid the “craigslist personals”. All it takes is for someone to conduct something in its unoriginal intent of use and that feature will vanish forever. Cybercrime is made easier by the identity-masking feature. “Today, technologically savvy criminals are creating “point-and-click crime ware in a box",” providing “a whole new category of software that actually commits crime",” he says. “So you don't need to be a hacker to be a cybercriminal. You just need to buy the software in anonymous online market.” This development multiplies the number of people who can commit cybercrimes” (Clemmitt). There are many cases where criminals wouldn’t do such things without the dark web. The sense of being anonymous encourages a criminal because they are at a lower risk of being caught versus doing this same thing in the real world. Cybercrime has increased due to such low risks. It is unpredictable whether cybercrime will lead to real world crime. In the case of drugs, the internet has been used for a length of time for drug dealing. There is an estimate of 15 percent of drug dealing being conducted from the dark web (Clemmitt). Illegal products from the dark web are made easier to sell for criminals.
Protecting privacy rights is up to us as users. As users, we must take the necessary steps by reading guidelines carefully to know what we as social networkers are getting ourselves into. For instance, Zuckerberg’s sister had posted a picture that was intended for those on her friend’s list; it somehow surfaced on twitter. As a guide for Facebook marketing, you would think she would know how to be able to maintain her privacy online. She simply forgot one of the rules in Facebook’s disclaimer. ”But the error was Zuckerberg's. Even though she had guided Facebook's marketing, she hadn't remembered one of the company's complex rules for figuring out which postings are private. ” (Clemmitt). It is important we remember things that can affect our lives if not handled properly. This is a “typical” confusion in social media. One shares a photo, someone on that friends list shares that photo, and so forth. Sharing personal photos of someone without permission can lead to anonymous users cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is hurtful, ugly, and can sometimes be very deadly (Billitteri). Personal moments, sexual assaults, and fights are caught on camera and posted to the internet every single day. Cyber bullying comes as a result of this. Unfortunately, many take their own life or take another’s life out of humiliation and/or resentment.
Cyber bullying does not discriminate against age. All ages and races are subject to harassment as a result of humiliating footage or pictures posted on the web. “In Essex Junction, Vt., 13-year-old Ryan Patrick Halligan kills himself after months of harassment, including instant messages calling him gay. "He just went into a deep spiral in eighth grade"," said his father, who advocates a state law forcing schools to develop anti-bullying policies. "He couldn't shake this rumor” (Billitteri). Often times, the use of the internet is used to harass, intimidate, provoke, threaten, and embarrass others (Billitteri). These are scars that will never heal for most. People carry this pain and depression for the rest of their lives. Many need to seek help from a professional to try to recover from such cruelty that others have inflicted.
In other cases, technology can be used for managing stress and depression. “"Distinguishing between positive and negative online behavior, and understanding what relieves and what exacerbates one's depression, can be elucidated by use of a thorough intake and clinical history” (Taking a Closer Look at Online Social Netowrking and Depression). For some others, technology enhances depression. Understanding what helps us cope and what doesn’t help us is an important thing to distinguish because it helps us grow as people. Social networking and depression link to each other whether positive or negative. Positively, technology will help one manage their depression by being a support system. Negatively, technology will increase loneliness, which can sometimes lead to self-harming thoughts or wishes.
Thinking before you post is another good habit to have. Never put any personal information online because not only is your reputation on the line; there are online predators searching for their prey. “A lot of students don’t realize their screen names can reveal a lot of details” (Think B4 U Post: Your reputation and Privacy on Social Networking Sites 16:22). I have witnessed individuals put their name and last name with the date they were born in their email or username. Work emails are more commonly used in this way because its “intent” is for professional use. I say intent in quotation marks because I have stated that many people will abandon a good or service for its original use and create something more malicious out of it.
To avoid people with malicious intent, it is best to friend people who you are actually friends with in real life. A woman from Indiana had posted that she would be out of town at a concert and when she came home, more than $10",000 of her belongings were gone and come to find out it was one of her acquaintances from years ago (Think B4 U Post: Your reputation and Privacy on Social Networking Sites 17:00). Apps like snap chat have a geolocation feature to tell others exactly where you are located. There is an option to turn the feature on, but I have witnessed many forgetting to switch their location off. That is very horrifying to think about. I know of many people who accept 50 friend requests a day and for them to forget to switch their location from on to off is just frightening to me.
There is an app called chat roulette that allows you to video chat with random strangers from across the world. Although this is a substitute for human interaction, this is also used by online predators. “Many people aren’t there to chat. We are seeing a lot of people exposing themselves and acting out sexually in these images” (Dangers of Social Networking Video Clip Collection 14:12). The creator is a seventeen year old boy from Russia who claims he was getting bored of chatting with people he already knew. The intent has definitely been disregarded in many ways. The use of the internet has become more problematic than it has ever been. Although, I see both positives of negatives, it seems that the negatives are by far outweighing the positives. The internet is becoming dangerous and has caused even death.
For younger children, it has strained their academic performance and human interactions. Self-esteem in children and even adults have been a result of the web. We go online and see a very in-shape woman or man and think of ourselves lowly even though most pictures online are photo shopped. We see musical artists with money, jewelry, and fancy cars and want to be that way. This affects the younger generation the most because a younger mind is more susceptible to things like this. “It has also been noted in studies that there may be a correlation between low self-esteem and a sense of social inadequacy and social network addiction” (Meena, et al). People tend to feel inadequate when seeing these types of things on the web. That, I believe, can leave someone depressed.
I stated that technology is most definitely a behavioral addiction and anyone experiencing this should seek professional help before it takes a toll and leaves permanent damage. “Now a day’s excessive internet usage is a well-recognized problem and many mental-health professionals are of the opinion that problematic internet use should be considered as a codable psychiatric illness” (Meena, et al). Social networking is a trend in this generation and in the cyber world. Whether we are parents or not, we are adults; we must set the standard by being a role model to children by encouraging younger people to go out and meet people in real life and if they are going to use the internet; they must take the proper precautions by thinking before publishing a post. The greatest danger of being a young child, teen, or adult is becoming a target for sexual harassment or assault. The past cannot be changed but our habits can be.