Monday, January 31, 2011

How Social Is Social Networking?

With more than 220 million people worldwide using online networks such as Facebook and MySpace, the capacity to interact with people around the world has rapidly expanded. Such developments open up new ways to build social networks. Simply by going online, we can find out what our friends are up to, go through their photo albums and know what is on their minds—even when they are on the other side of the planet. Do such virtual social networks contribute to better health the way real networks do? Some speculate that Facebook is particularly valuable for those who are less mobile (such as older adults or the disabled) and therefore represents an excellent way to avoid social isolation. There are also warnings, however, that in some cases, rather than reducing social isolation, tools such as Facebook could actually add to it. In a survey of 184 MySpace users, media researchers Rob Nyland, Raquel Marvez and Jason Beck of Brigham Young University found that the most frequent users reported being less involved in the communities around them than the least frequent users. This assessment suggests that virtual-world networking can become a substitute for real-world engagement.

Source of Information :  Scientific American Mind September-October 2009

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