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  • Subject Name : Sociology

Online Social Networking Sites for Both Older and Younger People

Abstract on Online Social Networking Sites

During last decade the usage of social networking sites have increased drastically. This is being accessed by people of all the age groups weather it is an adolescent, an adult or a person of old age. The access of internet provides personal independence by serving the social, personal and heath mechanism of a person as it provides ample of information at very low price. However, one cannot ignore the ill effect on the psychological wellness of the people. This article enumerates the affect of social media on mental wellbeing of adolescent and old age people.

Keywords: Social network, internet, adolescent and old age

Introduction to Online Social Networking Sites

The subjective part of the adult well being includes happiness, positivity, life satisfaction, and morale boost. Various authors have described different parameters to the psychological well being. One such parameter is given by Ryff under which 6 dimensions of self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose in life, positive relationships, ability to manage surrounding life, and self-determination are evaluated (Erickson & Johnson 2011). Social satisfaction can be measured by the person through a social network which is measured by friends and family members as they are a very important source of motivation during a tough time. However, to justify these criteria, there are different factors present which are religious involvement, family life, social life, engagement in recreational activities, financial condition, and physical mobility. These are all associated by person well being. These factors are further backed by other issues like income, age, education, and gender. The well being of older adults can be seen through their social interaction however with the change in society and development of technology we can see that the young adults are more inclined towards the internet for their work as that has changed the lives of people for good.

The use of the internet has created some effects on the well being of the person under which it provides the person a sense of self-efficacy as the computer skills of the person are linked to the usage of the internet by older adults. Not just the older people but the adolescents are also affected by the internet is both a good and bad way. Various authors have discussed that an individual may have negative mental health issues which could lead to loneliness, decreased empathy, suicidal thoughts and social anxiety in people. Though there are ample of terms and conditions present to access this internet social networking but due to lack of transparency these are often compromised. One can not deny the threat to privacy these networking sites possess to the people who share almost everything. In recent years the misuse of this data is also seen. Cyberbullying and trolling are a few issues that affect the person mentally. One need to look for the positive side of the internet that provide expansion of capital and provide more personalised experience to the people living at distant place. To understand the effect of social networking on well being through different age group it is important to analyze each group separately.

Effect of Social Networking on Mental Health

The development of social media has bought several changes in the way of communication through which people interact. With the introduction of Facebook, Instagram, myspace both personal and business communication has increased and helped in increased connectivity, flow of information, and online learning. With the pros comes in the cons which lead to various mental disorders like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem are few to mention. Various studies at the beginning of the internet claimed that it will affect the community life of the people as there will be a decline in family relations and the people will be more inclined towards the internet. The screen time of children and adolescents has already been increased these days which has left a very little place for interpersonal communication within the family and wider circle of the society. Though social media connect millions of people these connections are very shallow and cannot replace face to face human interaction (Pantic,2014)

In studies conduct, it was found that the correlation between the use of social media and depression is positive (Pantic, 2014). That means the more time one spends on social media then the more likely other is to be depressed. However, there is no conclusive evidence of it. Research also provides that the people who have online interaction with the family and friends do not tend to get depressed whereas the people who interact outside the circle are the ones who get feel loneliness and depression (Mehdizadeh 2010).

 It is often argued that social media affect the self-esteem of people. Self-esteem is considered as the qualitative component according to which a person values, approves, or likes oneself. It is one of the important factors of developing oneself. In a study conducted (Mehdizadeh 2010), it was found that people who use more social media generally have low self-esteem than the less active people. However, few theories explain that the use of social media provides self-awareness to the people (Ahn, 2011). According to these theories, these platforms act as the stimuli as various people visit the profile of that person looks at the posts, photographs, biographical data, relationships, etc. these platforms work as the self-presenting stage for the people (Swist & Collin 2015). Hence to analyze the relationship between social media and self-esteem there lies a lot of complexity as sometimes people tend to compare their achievement with another and, make or perceive different notions for the physical, social or emotional characteristics. Hence it is clear that though social media has helped the people to connect but has its own repercussions in which people suffer through self-esteem issues and depression (Pantic,2014). Apart from this the use of internet has made people obese and physically immobile as people spend more time sitting and accessing the internet rather than indulging in physical activity.

How Internet Affect the Well Being of Young People?

The use of social media by the children is increasing at a rapid rate affecting the well being of the children. In todays world it is observed that internet is accessible by the children since the early age of 5, by the age of their teens, they get access to social networking sites which is available online via different devices which makes it more personalized experience for them. There are generally four dimensions which are explored through social media. It includes the technical dimension in which hardware, software, and connectivity are being used to access. Other is the material dimension in which the texts, images, and other interactions that are visible are made in the devices. Another is the social dimension in which children interact with other people and finally, there is a motivational dimension that helps the children to have a different way to approach and utilize social media (Lenhart & Pew Research Center 2015). These different dimensions of social media are important to analyze the on the wellbeing of the children. As through text and images one receives or look into it can be seen in what thing one is interested in with the ample of information available on internet segregation of good and bad content is important. Similarly, it is important to monitor the kind of people one is talking to as talking to someone unknown with mala fide intentions can be dangerous.

 In a report it was concluded that about 92% of teenagers are on social media platforms, and among those 24% are constant visitors to these sites (Lenhart & Pew Research Center 2015). Which draws our attention that it is impossible to see people without smartphones these days (Leist,2013). This excessive use of social media has caused issues of cognitive development of the children. It creates hindrance in the development of the academic achievement of the children as social media gets in a way and impacts the learning of the children. It is also observed that the student who uses the internet more are less likely to score well in exams as they spend most of the time on social networking sites (Leist,2013). However, one can not ignore the blessing e learning has become for students these days.

Usage of social media also affects the social-emotional development of the children. Any negative influence of cyberbullying or cyber trolling effect the social development of the children. These negative impacts on the child can lead to the issues related to depression, self-esteem and peer pressure which can lead to depression and suicide. The adolescents these days are constantly using the internet which makes them a target to victimization and rejection. There is an emergence of a new concept of cyber- ostracism which is a feeling in which the person feels ignored on the social platform, this has inculcated the problem of self-esteem, meaningful existence, and belonging in children (William, Cheung & Choi 2000). Another concern that is an issue for the child’s mental health is the feedback that one receives online by his peers. The negative feedback often affects the development of the child as these feedbacks often objectifies the body or physical appearance of the child. The extreme use of social media has often led to the fear of missing out in adolescent that make them check their social media account throughout the day. This fear often leads to insomnia, anxiety, or even depression in several cases.

Social media plays a prominent role in society but since the age of adolescents is very sensitive it can have a negative impact that could lead to physical, social, and mental well being. These effects can be mitigated if the parents, guardians, and teachers take certain steps by guiding them to use social media effectively by guiding their children to make the right decisions. The parents can monitor their children's activity online with certain sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr where they can fix the preferences of the content that should be accessible to their child (Ahn, J., 2011). Moreover, the location of the devices should be switched off by the parents as these devices provide almost correct information to the people which could be dangerous to the child’s life.

Finally, the parents, guardians, and students need to take a positive approach towards the ills if social media but providing rational and logical reasoning for the harm that is connected with the excessive use of social media. These issues are needed to be addressed with utter seriousness as a negligent outlook towards a teenager can be harmful to his development as a better human (Bryant, 2018). 

Effect of internet on the well being of Old People

Maintaining a social relationship is important and is widely regarded as one of the key elements of their well being. The kin of these people a generally geographically distant and are immobile or have other time-consuming obligations which often make them feel lonely this hinders the adults from satisfying the need for social contact as they have no opportunity to meet people. Social media has broken these barriers as it makes it very easy for them to contact with there loved ones and make discussion through various online forums (Leist,2013). With the increasing number of old people using social media the reach has increased. Social media has helped them with the feature of telehealth and telecare services. Besides this social media is a place where a person can create content share it with people and interact with people (Leist,2013). However, there is a general prerequisite of social media in which the person should need to know the basic computer skill and usage of social media which is a barrier for older people.

However, social media has made older people have a more topic-oriented online discussion on the group in which the online group discussion takes place where people learn about new things and that helps them to know about the new aspect of life. This creates a positive effect on the well being of the person. Social media platform provides a digital form of expression to more traditional practices like journaling, life documentation, and business promotions. This empowers and provides self-satisfaction to them.

When a person engages in face to face communication it helps to convey the context of the situation. Non verbal communication also places an important part as in that situation a person learns about the facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, posture and so on (Knapp & Hall, 2010). Understanding these aspects is essential for developing social skills of the person. All these skills help the person in personal, social and academic success (Knapp & Hall, 2010). Hence this is the only reason a person who establishes these skills have superior positive peer relationships than others (Blakemore, 2003). These non verbal skills are stronger in person when they communicate in person than digitally (Sherman, Michikyan, & Greenfeld, 2013). This is the reason adults have better social skills that the young generation.

However, no negative effect of social media like using information for personal intend or any other behavior is noticed in the old age people but there is still a fear of consuming irrelevant information that is presented on the internet that may lead to the aggravate the problem for which the solution is being searched by them (Leist,2013). Since older people look online for a medical solution, they might at times take the self-treatment that can further cause a problem.

Though cyberbullying is generally perceived for youngsters it may also cause an effect on the old people as they may get harsh online comments or feedback on the forum where they have posted their content.

Conclusion on Online Social Networking Sites

The social media has a strong impact on the life of every individual regardless of their age. It has both positive and negative effect. It does provide connectivity to the people of old age but it harms adolescent’s social skills which impacting their well being. Whereas with ample information present on the internet it provides more opportunity to widen the knowledge and skills of the person. However, this can only be benefitted if the children are monitored and old adults use the information with proper fact checking. It totally depends on an individual whether he uses social media as a blessing or make it a curse for himself.

References for Online Social Networking Sites

Ahn, J., (2011), 'The effect of social network sites on adolescents' social and academic development: Current theories and controversies', Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 62. No. 8, pp. 1435-1445

Blakemore, S. J. (2003). How does the brain deal with the social world? Neuro Report, 14, 1–10.?

Bryant, A., (2018), The Effect of Social Media on the Physical, Social Emotional, and Cognitive Development of Adolescents, Honors Senior Capstone Projects. https://scholarworks.merrimack.edu/honors_capstones/37

 Erickson, J., & Johnson, G.M. (2011). Internet use and psychological wellness during late adulthood. Canadian Journal on Aging, 30, 197-209. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0714980811000109

Knapp, M.L, & Hall, J. A (2010). Nonverbal communication in human interaction (Seventh.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 

Leist, A., (2013), Social Media Use of Older Adults: A Mini-Review., Gerontology,


Lenhart A & Pew Research Center, (2015), Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview, PEW Research Center, https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/

Mehdizadeh S.(2010), Self-presentation 2.0: narcissism and self-esteem on Facebook. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour & Social Networking 2010; 13:357–364, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1710/71069cb3b58cfe8e38232c25bfa99f1fbdf5.pdf

Pantic, I., (2014), Online Social Networking and Mental Health. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and social networking. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2014.0070

Pescosolido, B., (2011), The sociology of social network, 21th Century sociology, Sage Publication.

Sherman, L. E., Michikyan, M., & Greenfeld, P. M. (2013). The effects of text, audio, video, and in-person communication on bonding between friends. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 7. Article 3. https://cyberpsychology.eu/article/view/4285/3330

Strough, J., (2019), Age Differences in Reported Social Networks and Well-Being, Psychology and Aging., Vol. 35, No. 2, 159–168., http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pag0000415

Swist, T., Collin, P., (2015), Social media and the wellbeing of children and young people: A literature review, Institute for Culture and Society.

William K., Cheung C., Choi W., (2000), Cyberostracism: Effects of Being Ignored Over the Internet., Journal of Personality and social Psychology, Vol.79 No. 5, 748- 762. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c228/e440fb12a64e3489a16362ec614475c5ccf5.pdf

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Sociology Assignment Help

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