How does online social networking impact relationships? 85 percent of students surveyed believe that social networking sites make them feel more connected to people. 54 percent believe that technology assists in feeling closer to people, while 28 percent believe that technology makes it more difficult to get close to people.
Does social media reduce stress? Fifty seven percent of students surveyed said life without computers and cell phones would make them more stressed. However, a significant number — 25 percent — said it would be a relief. The majority of students polled feel “pressured to instantly answer texts or voice mails.” They get nervous if their friends don’t immediately reply to a message.
Social networks can be a source of embarrassment and abuse. Last month Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman, leaped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after others secretly webcast his sexual encounter with another man. Prior to killing himself he posted to Facebook: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
Social networks can also provide a platform for support. One in five students say that they’ve posted messages seeking emotional support. Two thirds have read public posts by friends pleading for assistance. Twenty percent say that they have had friends who discuss suicide online, with 13 percent having friends that followed through.
Laying your heart out online has its consequences. Students can feel regretful and overly exposed. While 8 in 10 students claim to live happy lives, 6 in 10 have felt too stressed to hang out with friends or too agitated for school work.
Despite the amount of time students spend online in social networks, a large majority of students believe that it’s better to resolve conflicts with people in person. They “prefer face-to-face conversations over networking sites or texting for seeking help with personal issues, supporting others with problems or telling friends they’re upset with them.”
Still, many students hide behind technology when it comes to confrontation. About 7 in 10 students have engaged in arguments using only text messages, and about half have used technology to avoid in-person confrontations. Social networks also provide insight into your whereabouts. Around 6 in 10 students frequently track someone by repeatedly checking their social networking site.
Technology: Can’t Live With It, Can’t Kill It [NewsFactor]