The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Social Networks
Most people today are registered with at least one social network, whether it be Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. One of the most convenient ways of networking and staying in touch, you have probably given very little thought to the advantages and disadvantages of social media. The majority of users pay little attention to whether their use of these networks is helping them in their lives or whether it is actually hindering them, yet it is important to consider these issues in order to weigh up the effect that these sites can actually have on our lives today. Here, we look at the pros and cons of social networking to help you to see whether or not your use of these sites is beneficial or detrimental.
What are the Advantages of Social Networks?
Those who are fans of social networking would be able to put forward a persuasive case that there are many advantages of registering with these sites. Some of the greatest benefits include the following:
Links to the rest of the world – whoever you may be trying to find, be it an old school friend, an ex-partner or an old work colleague who has moved abroad, social media is the fastest and easiest way to re-establish that connection. Old friends can get back in touch, exchange information about each other's lives, share photographs and even chat in real time all over the internet. Social networking also allows users to make brand new friends and forge new business connections through friends and acquaintances of their existing friend network, and these connections are able to help users in a multitude of ways, from finding a life partner to acquiring a new job.
Sharing ideas and tips – some social media sites, such as Pinterest, help users to share information about their interests and hobbies and to easily access a source of ready advice. By connecting with other like-minded individuals, users can learn more quickly and can resolve problems with ease.
Real time communication – the instant messages features which are found on many social networks not only offer a handy alternative to the telephone but also allow users to exchange information instantly in real time. This can be especially useful for students who can participate in online classroom discussions and for employees in the workplace who can be updated instantly about business matters.
Targeted Marketing – from individuals promoting their own event to companies who want to advertise a new service or product, social media sites offer the ideal way to get a message out to the public without having to pay a penny. For those who are willing to pay a fee, there are even advertising options available to target users who are most likely to be interested, allowing content to be specifically aimed at a particular group.
Faster news releases – social networking has allowed breaking news to be circulated much more quickly than in the past. Twitter and Facebook are now some of the most popular sources of news alerts and accessing these sites ensures that people are kept up to date with local and world events.
What are the Disadvantages of Social Networks?
Although there are many positives associated with social networking, unfortunately, there are several negatives too, some of which can have a major impact upon the lives of those who register with these sites. Some of the best known disadvantages of social media networks include the following:
Impact on future prospects – many people underestimate the effect that their posts and comments on social media sites can have on their long term prospects. Employers now routinely check social media sites when considering job applicants and any potentially offensive comments, or any sign that the candidate may be unsuitable for any reason could lead to limitations in employment opportunities for the individual.
Cyber-crime and bullying – social networking is one of the main ways in which people can lay themselves open to bullying and abuse. A surprisingly high number of young people have admitted to being bullied through social media and there is also a risk of falling prey to stalkers, sex predators or criminals. Identity theft is becoming more common, resulting in financial loss for many social media users, and some people even become victims of real-world crimes who track users' movements on networking sites.
Time wasting – one of the most common problems associated with social networking is how much time is wasted simply through checking for updates. This can have a major impact upon the quality of students' work and upon employees' productivity.