The Internet is transforming lives. It has become an invaluable tool for communication, information and entertainment. The numbers of people, who join in social network services (SNSs), such as Facebook, twitter, and blogs, has been increasing for a decade. SNS makes the way of communication easier, faster and has also changed our lifestyles as it is so much more convenient compared to before we were using it. In this paper, I will begin by defining what constitutes SNSs and then present a history of them. Following this, I am going to review of three questions:
1 Why SNSs have become important as a means of communication between people?
2 What is the impact of using SNSs on social relations for the individual or group?
3 What are the factors that make SNSs more effective between people?
SNSs is web-based services which allows individuals to (1) establish a public or semi-public profile within specific network system, (2) link a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 2007).
According to the definition, ‘SixDegrees.com’ is the first recognizable social network site witch launched in 1997. It allowed users to have profiles, list their Friends.
From 1997 to 2001, the number of community tools began to allow users to create personal, professional, and dating profiles—users could identify friends on their personal profiles without seeking approval for those connections. In 2001, people launched SNSs as their business networks. The users first introduced the site to his friends which helped users to expand their business networks.
From 2003, many new SNSs were launched, which the form of profile-centric. Take two most popular SNSs, which are called “MySpace” and “Facebook”, as examples.
MySpace began in 2003 to compete with other SNSs. It was able to grow rapidly between young adults and allow the user to have relationship between artists and fans. The bands-and-fans dynamic was beneficial each other: Bands and their music company, which they are belonging, want to contact fans for business opportunities and fans also desired from their favourite bands as well. Nowadays, it became the most popular SNSs between teenagers in USA (Boyd, D.M. 2008).
On the other hand, Facebook began as a Harvard-only SNS in early 2004. To join, a user had to have a “harvard.edu” email address. After 2005, Facebook expanded to everyone. The change to open signup did not mean that new users could easily access users in closed networks. Unlike other SNSs, Facebook users are unable to make their full profiles public to all users. Another unique feature of Facebook is the ability for outside developers to build “Applications” which is enables users to personalize their profiles and perform other tasks, such as compare movie preferences and chart travel histories (Boyd, D.M. 2008). There are four hundred million users who are from thirty countries, according to the recent survey. (Tech countries, 2011)
1 Why SNSs have become important as a means of communication between people?
Most users find it indispensable and are using it in ways that enhance their lives. The developing SNSs allow people to have more opportunities compare to before. Especially for from young adults to business people, they have become the most popular way of communication.
Most SNSs focus on growing broadly and exponentially, others explicitly seek narrower audiences. Their systems are designed for these points. They introduce, for instance, new friends to users automatically according to their interests, hobby, and degrees so on between networks (Boyd, D. M. 2007). Therefore it is often happens to be able to contact with old friends or old classmates, who have not contact for a long and also make friends with people who have same interest without meeting face-to-face.
Not only for maintaining friendship but also for business, SNSs have become the important tools. ‘Ecademy’ is one of the business networking sites built up of a networking. Members share business connections and opportunities each other. It is free to join in, however, membership can be upgraded to power networker for 14 dollars a month (Ina, O. 2004).
On the other hand, others point out the negative impact of SNSs. Internet abuse is a broad common word which has varied manes and definitions. The terms used include interne addiction (IA) and it has been found worldwide. Two studies in Taiwan that used representative samples show that 12 per cent of high school students who had ever used the Internet had IA. Other studies which have used convenience samples report IA incidence as ranging from 3.5 – 15 per cent (Janet, M.M.2009).
Nowadays, it is common for teens to depend on SNSs for their first socializing, and the worlds of fantasy and reality have often collided into disaster. ‘”Mean girls” who wouldn’t give a wallflower the time of day in the halls of an upper secondary school have “friended” them on cyberspace, causing an oddly skewed perception of social acceptance.’ (Love To Know Corp. 2011)
Some teens even experience physical harm over Internet relationships spurred by SNSs. It is usual cases that some of users commit suicide because of cyber bullying incidents. SNSs give all generations the opportunity to remain anonymous, lost in a large virtual world, which they are able to express themselves (Love To Know Corp. 2011).
However, the impact of social network services does not have to be so negative. These negative aspects can be avoided by their parents’ control accounts. Additionally, there are many useful services for defending young adults against dangerous. Moreover, having opportunities to discuss the rules and positive aspects of social networking with friends and family can also help them to confirm the role of social networking.
2 What is the impact of using SNSs on social relationship for the individual or group?
The impact of using SNSs for the individual
Internet use involves special factors which together create a unique physical environment for the user. McKenna, K.Y.A. (2002) suggests four major factors that differentiate between Internet interaction and face-to-face interaction:
a. Greater anonymity;
b. The reduction of the importance of physical appearance;
c. Greater control over the time and space of interactions;
d. The ease of finding similar others;
On the internet, people can easily keep their anonymity. They can select a false name and nickname or hide other personal information. This secrecy around their identify helps people to express their own opinion more freely and sincerely than they would in a face-to-face meeting. However, when a common social identity is available in the net communication, for instance it is likely to improve intergroup discrimination through email addresses (Postmes,T. 2000).
The reduction of the importance of physical appearance
Attractive people have more social advantages in our culture than the other people. They are better liked, more helped and seen possessing better personality feature and intellectual abilities. And the first impression in a face-to-face also sets the course for the rest of the interaction (Fiske, S.T. 1991). In this case, it is hard for people with unsightly or unattractive physical characteristics to express themselves in public. However a typical Internet social communication is solely text-based, the physical characteristics keep undisclosed. Therefore, they have opportunities to present themselves in any way they choose on the Internet. Ben, Z.A. (2005) point out that the anonymity of the Internet encounter may also be enjoyed by people who are concerned that their appearance is the only reason that others wish to get to know them.
Greater control over the time and space of interactions
People, who are socially inhabited, very shy, or have no social skills may often feel lack of control and even fear during a typical face-to-face meeting. The unique aspect of Internet communication is that the user can decide when he or she will write message and when he or she will reply. Additionally, the whole encounter is taking place in an environment of their choice and this would be a source of security and comfort. Therefore the user is able to ‘go out to meet the world’ from their own living room (Duval, S 1972). The flexibility of the Internet interactions fits very well with the demands of modern lifestyle.
The ease of finding similar others
The Internet is accessed everyday by many users, who have various different interests. On the Internet, many thousands of different groups exist and it is directly to find a group of similar others. This, together with the ease of finding details of their different interests and services offered by the net, makes it extremely ease to find out like-minded others visiting the same site. In summary, this fact has opened up opportunities for people belonging to groups (Amichai, Y. 2007).
The impact of using SNSs for the group
In general, there is space for write email address on the any forms, such as from application forms for member’s cards in shops, questionnaires to prescriptions in hospital. Those email addresses are used to send massages or newsletters to all the members on the list. What are the advantages of this is that it makes the sender easier to find specific recipients who need information from them. It is good for each other because senders do not need to send useless information to people who are not interested in their fields, and also recipients can receive useful information only (Tanis, M. 2009).
The other type of group online is web-based discussion forums, which member can contribute by posting messages that others can read, and if desired, respond to. So, the discussions consist of previous posting and members’ opinions (Tanis, M.2009).
All this makes web-forms easy accessible locations and where people can give and receive support and where people that are interest in the topic of the group can browse through the postings in an attempt to find the information they need.
3 What are the factors that make the SNSs more effective between people?
Many of the theories explain the way of communication in Internet – real relationships in cyberspace. According to Lea and Spears (1995), both of the visual anonymity and the lack of co-presence of the communicators would expand the interaction possibilities, and for some this is the ‘magic’ of on-line relationships. Other theories have also made the claim that the anonymous of the Internet provides a space to feel more comfortable to self-disclose information about themselves (Parks, M.R and Roberts, L.D. 1998). Clearly, people feel more comfortable disclose to someone that they will probably never meet again.
SNSs also focus on growing network between friends on the internet. Their features or use searching and profile browsing, many sites offer a range of community building. It is predicted that SNSs collaboration and communication techniques be means of mobile phones or network connected portable tools (Ina, O. 2004).
Additionally, users use not only their user name and birthday but also more personal information, such as photograph, real name, hometown, e-mail address, cell phone number, relationship status (i.e. in a relationship or single), sexual orientation, and instant messenger screen name as their profile on SNSs. As in other SNSs, Friendster members create a profile and make public links to others. These functions support users to develop new relationships and share information and also have general use (Dwyer 2007).
However, according to Dwyer (2007), the news media point out that the reputation of SNSs has diminished. Although millions of people have joined them with adding reveal personal information, privacy within social networking sites is often not expected or is undefined. Although members can control what appears on their profile, they cannot control what appears on a friend’s profile. Take a teacher and her students as an example, Crude pictures or movies on a friend’s profile caused concern for a teacher when her students asked to ‘friend’ her. This placed her in an uncomfortable position, because it is enable students to access to her profile would also allow them to look at her friends, who she knew to have dangerous pictures on their profile (boyd, 2004).
The adults among us can still remember the days before the Internet. However, Internet, for children and young adults, is a natural part of life.
The population of Internet users is becoming ever closer to that of the general population. Not only for maintaining relationships but also for business opportunities, they have been used by many people, and also they are designed growing network between the users on the internet, such as offering a range of community building. They encourage the users to make new networks. Additionally, they support the user to feel comfortable to join SNSs through many variety factors, such as using real user’s profiles or anonymity. Therefore, many users feel that SNSs interaction is more freely and useful than face to face communication.
It is true that although SNSs are indeed useful, we have become too depend on them. It enables people, especially for young adults, to make relationship skill be weak in face to face interaction. In addition to that the number of Internet Addiction has increased for the last two decades. However, the number of their user will expand in the future because their advantages outweigh disadvantages.
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