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Door: Nasser Mohamud
Social Media Positive And Negative Effects Upon Society

Since I stopped using social media extensively, I decide to write the following blog. Ever since my far east travels a couple of years ago I was not able to use social media sites such as Facebook, twitter etc etc… The ban on Western social media sites in China was placed on the sites in 2009 following riots in the country and China's ruling Communist Party has restricted access ever since. Being annoyed by this by not being able to show off and brag to your friends about your experiences, I was surprised with the benefits of not using social media constantly! Based on my experience of using social media, sometimes I felt being pulled down by the never ending stream of information and the constant pressure of sharing every move, decision, and activity for a thumbs up or a comment to satisfy this urge of self satisfaction from hundreds of online friends who are a small mix of real friends along with the majority of friends who I only met once etc….

Once I stopped using social media, I started to have a free mind to wander and explore, create and experience things with the choice and not the obligation to share or not share whenever and wherever….

Still I started wondering whether I am the only one who is experiencing these kind of issues?? So as usually, I decided to do research and gather as much as information about the main positive and negative effects of social media. Now there are plenty of positive as well as negative aspects of social media but I picked the most siginifcant ones that I feel are important based on my situation. 

The positive effects of Social Media 

1. Keeping in Toch

If you have relatives, who live far from countryside, social media or networking is a great tool for connecting people together. You can touch in touch with your family and friends by using social network.

  • Pewresearch Survey shows that staying in touch with family members is a major factor across a range of social media users, but it’s especially important to women

  • Staying in touch with current friends and reconnecting with old friends is most relevant for those under the age of 50

  • Middle-aged and older adults place a relatively high value on social media as a tool to connect with others around a hobby and interest

  • Finding potential dating partners is at most a minor element of the social media experience


2. Source Of Learning & Teaching

For students and teachers, the effects of social media are huge. Nowadays you can go to Internet and learn or exchange knowledge. There are lots of topic and sources that you can get there. By using those topics, you can have great subjects and topics for discuss to improve knowledge at school.

  • Based on statistics coming out of different studies and surveys, 84% of universities and colleges now use Twitter to reach out  to students.

  • One in four students uses social media to contact university staff. More than a quarter of university students now use social media to contact their lecturers

  • Some 500 students took part in the research, which found that among those who do communicate with lecturers online, Facebook is by far the most popular channel with 85%, just over a third 36%  said they used Twitter, and nearly a quarter 23 % used the messaging application What’sApp.

  • The survey also suggested that 32% of students say technology played a part in their choice of university, and that more than a quarter 28% use their smartphones to edit university essays. Some 20% said they would like to see more mobile devices provided on campus to make studying easier.   


3. Making Friends

Of course, this is the first and foremost positive effects of social media that everyone can realize. It has never been easier to make friends than it is right now thanks to social media. Just several decades ago, it was rather tough for people to connect with each other if they did not go out and make conversation with others.

However, today, with the changes of technologies makes connecting people so easy. It is totally possible to have thousands of friends on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Social media can help you as well as people all over the world make and keep friends without having to go out.

  • Younger Facebook Users Have Significantly Larger Networks Than Older Users. According to data from Pew Research, 27% of adults 18-29 years old have more than 500 friends in their network, while only 15% of 30-49 year olds do.

  • Young adults aged 16-24 have a more extensive breadth of use of social media and are adopting newer sites and services such as Twitter (40%), WhatsApp (37%), YouTube (32%), Instagram (35%), Snapchat (26%), Tumblr (8%) and Vine (4%).


4. Expressing Empathy

On the social networking sites, we tend to share our lives, both the ups and downs, with those people we think will care. They will listen to what you have posted and assist you in dealing with problems you are facing.

The point here is that, because all of us share both good and bad things on social networking sites, then we will be able to empathize with each other. Sometimes, a friend who used to pass through the situation you are facing with, then they will give you advice or inform you how they got through that.

  • A Pew Research Center has previously found that a typical Facebook user, “has more close friends; has more trust in people; feels more supported; and is more politically involved,” compared to non-social media users and those who use the site infrequently.

  • A 2013 study found that teenagers often feel that social media helps them to deepen their relationships with others.

  • Pew reports that exposure to difficult events in the lives of others through social media can cause increased levels of stress, particularly in women, a phenomenon sometimes called “the cost of caring.” So as social media makes you increasingly aware of events in other people’s lives, you can wind up feeling more emotionally wound-up in their well being. 


5. Building Relationships

There is no doubt to say that social network could lead to the formation of new relationships. This can put you in touch with those people who you have a lot of common things with, and that will be starting point for long-lasting relationships. Also, networking sites could help foster friendships and perhaps more besides.

One of the chapters of our forthcoming book How the World Changed Social Media, which will be published as an Open Access book by UCL Press in February 2016, describes a survey consisting of 43 questions we asked 1199 respondents (mainly around 100 per fieldsite).


  • Similarly this figure of whether people use social media to develop new relationships makes sense to us. In some places such as Brazil or Trinidad it is because prior to social media people typically developed friendships through the mechanism of becoming friends with the friends of already established friends or relatives, and this is something that social media lends itself to.

  • By contrast the issue in industrial China is that factory workers, who are constantly shifting from place to place, grow to rely on their online connections as the place for developing friendship, partly because opportunities are quite limited for friendship offline.

  • This is the high number of people in our rural Chinese site who mention siblings as the people who most often post on their walls. 
  • The problem is, of course, that given the one family per child policy, most of these young people don’t have siblings. However, this figure also represents a practice in China where it is common to refer to one’s cousins as siblings


6. Source Of Sharing & Educating 

Due to the “sharing” option, social networking sites gives people a chance to share informative articles, videos with each other. Moreover, it can help them reach out to their coaches, academic experts, and teachers easily and collaborate with their peers on school subjects. 


  • A new study has examined that people who share news on social media sites may connect more with that information and stay connected longer than people who casually read the news.

  • S Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, Pennsylvania State, said sharing and discussing news content on social media sites like Facebook can actually drive greater involvement with news and information.


7. Participating In Communities

Via forums, people, in general, and teenagers in particular, can contribute their own opinions as well as thoughts on certain subjects and themes that interest them. By taking part in discussions, they will engage in positive self-expression.

  • People who use social media to discuss broadcast election debates are more likely to become engaged in politics as a result, a recent study by researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London's New Political Communication Unit has found

  • The researchers studied social media users who tweeted about the radio and television debates between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage during the 2014 European Parliament elections.

  • The study's authors Dr Cristian Vaccari, Professor Andrew Chadwick and Professor Ben O'Loughlin, found that people who commented on the debates live on social media and who followed the conversation through Twitter hashtags were more likely to increase their levels of political engagement during the campaign period.


8. Improving Self-Confidence

In fact, Facebook good comments and likes tend to be strongly positive. In those pick-me-up days, people can check their personal profiles and automatically get affirmation, self-confidence, self-esteem, and validation. In other words, because teenagers personalize their profile; thus, they might experience a sense of independence. Aside from being able to share their own ideas, or interacts with other people, they also participate in groups that help them “fit in” as well as foster their identity.

Some studies suggests that spending time with the online you -- the one with the hundreds of friends, the witty status updates and all the unflattering photos untagged -- might help your self-esteem.

  • Researchers at Cornell University, who conducted the study, say looking at Facebook, where we all tend to put our best digital foot forward, appears to provide a quick ego boost.

  • In the study, 63 students were left alone in a university lab at a computer. The computers were either turned off or showing the student's Facebook page. Some of the computers that were turned off also had a mirror propped against the screen.

  • Those who were on Facebook were allowed to spend three minutes reviewing their page, then all of the students were given a questionnaire to measure their self-esteem.

  • The students who were on Facebook gave more positive feedback about themselves than the other two groups, according to the article. Those who had made a change to their profile gave themselves the highest marks.

The Negative effects of Social Media 


1. Addicted

Social networking addiction is a phrase sometimes used to refer to someone spending too much time using Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media -- so much so that it interferes with other aspects of daily life.

There's no official medical recognition of social networking addiction as a disease or disorder. Still, the cluster of behaviors associated with heavy or excessive use of social media has become the subject of much discussion and research. 


  • A University of Chicago study conducted among 1000 students at 12 different colleges and universities around the globe, found that when when subjects spent 24 hours away offline, four out of five students reported feeling confused, isolated, and panicked without access to their phones.

  • Researchers at Chicago University concluded that our phones and social media exert a stronger pull on us that booze or cigarettes.


2. Increasing Violance

It is undeniable that social media gives us opportunity to approach new technology as well as modern life. However, social media can increase risks of violence and sex abuse due to some sites. Teenagers or youth watch videos, read bad news will relate to negative action.

According to the findings by Dr Pam Ramsden from the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Bradford, Viewing violent news events via social media can cause people to experience symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. 

  • For the study, the team enrolled 189 men and women with an average age of 37. The participants were exposed to a number of videos and images of violent news events — including suicide bombings, school shootings and the 9/11 terror attack — via social media or the Internet. After viewing these videos and images, the participants were asked to complete a vicarious trauma assessment and questionnaire and a personality questionnaire, as well as undergo a clinical assessment for PTSD.

  • The researchers found that 22% of the participants scored highly on clinical assessments of PTSD, despite only being exposed to videos and images of the traumatic events, not the events themselves. The more often the participants viewed media of the traumatic events, the more affected they were, the team found. 

  • Additionally, participants who were more extroverted were more likely to be affected by the videos and images of violent events — possibly because extroverted, outgoing people are more active on social media and may be exposed repeatedly to the violent content.

3. Increasing Threats

One of the negative effects of social medial is the lack of privacy. The reason is that people consider social media as a place to share too much personal information. This is a good opportunity for threats increase. Teens are often more exposed to online risks because they are using social media as a platform for self-expression and as a way to gain acceptance from their peers. This desire for expression and acceptance can lead teens to disclose too much information. They may disclose vital contact information, or exchange photographs with strangers, for example.

  • According to that Ponemon Institute research, there has been an increase in “privacy sensitive” users, from 55 % five years ago to 61% today. These are users who think privacy is important but will rarely change their online behavior even if hit by a major cyber incident. 

  • By contrast, the number of “privacy centric” users – those who would change their behavior after a worrying event – dropped from 22% to 14% over the period.

  • Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University found that most teenagers were not really thinking at all while posting private pictures or information, or at least were not thinking like 

  • The survey gathered information on social media behaviours from 588 teenagers in the US, most of whom were active users of sites such as Facebook. Research concluded that most teenagers upload personal information on the social media networks like Facebook without considering the risks involved such as cyberstalking, location disclosure, identity thefrt and many more.  

4. Being Unhappy

Do you believe that using social media can reduce your moods and it can make you unhappy? There are many reasons that can make you unhappy when using too much social networks. Simply, online relations will not last as you have a true relationship with friend in true life.

  • recent study found that more than half of the 1,623 individuals surveyed reported that their desire to post the "perfect" photo prevented them from fully enjoying a life experience.

  • The researchers found that these students feel the pressure and anxiety of being constantly available on social media and of being unable to respond to messages or posts.

  • The study, which was presented at the British Psychological Society, showed that nighttime social media use and emotional investment were related to poorer quality of sleep. It also resulted to higher anxiety and depression levels as well as lower self-esteem.
  • A new study conducted by the Happiness Research Institute shows that people who gave up Facebook for a week reported higher levels of satisfaction than those who continued to use the social network.

  • About 88% of non-Facebook users described themselves as "happy," compared with 81% of the Facebook users. Similarly, 84% of Facebook users reported appreciating their lives compared with 75% of the non-Facebooking contingent.

  • Those who boycotted Facebook also reported having a richer social life and fewer difficulties in concentrating, while the active users did not report a difference.


5. Overworking The Brain

There is a trend to almost of the users when they use social media – overwork for your brain. If you use Internet in almost of free time, you will increase tasks for your brain and cause tiredness. Your brain cannot have enough capacity to control and manage all the tasks.

  • A recent study presented by researchers from the United Kingdom says that young people are experiencing depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation because they feel a constant need to be on social media sites 24/7. 

  • Results showed how a constant need to make themselves available online was making teens feel tired, down, and anxious as they struggled to keep in-the-loop with what was happening on the Internet.
  • One of the researchers, Dr Heather Cleland Woods, described how adolescence can be a period of increased vulnerability for the onset of depression and anxiety, with poor sleep quality contributing to this.

6. Having A False Sense Of Connection

Though social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter boost the connections among people, they still bring a false sense of connection to some of them. According to some studies, social media sites could make it more difficult for people to distinguish the meaningful relationships they foster in the real world, and the numerous casual relationships formed via social media. Through concentrating too much of the psychic energy as well as time on those less realistic and meaningful relationships, your real and most critical connections will steadily weaken.

When people bury themselves in their computers spending all their time and energy on meaningless relationships online their connections with their real world relationships become weakened and possibly lost.


  • According to Steven Strogatz, a network science expert and professor at Cornell University, one of the dangers of social media is that it can make it difficult todistinguish between meaningful relationships and casual acquaintances.
  • Strogatz believes that because there is becoming such a large focus on the causal relationship through social media, there is less time and energy spent on meaningful relationships. Individuals also feel that because they are one click away from the person they may be following, that they know them, when in reality they might not ever talk in person.

  • This has led to a common problem in the real world in terms of communication because individuals are so used to communicating  easily through social media that when they are in the real world, face-to-face communication skills are lacking.

7. Reducing Productivity

Today, while a lot of businesses use social networking websites to look for and communicate with customers, those sites also provide a huge distraction to employees who might show more interest in what their friends are posting than their tasks. As a result, they will be less productive than normal.

Though new technology products have become available which allow social networks to be blocked, yet their effectiveness remains spotty.


  • Forbes reports that 64 percent of employees visit non-work related websites each day

  • A survey of nearly 2,200 hiring and human resources managers across the U.S. conducted on behalf of job research firm CareerBuilder, cited what employers consider some of the biggest workplace productivity-killers are cell phones and texting were mentioned by over half of those surveyed, followed by the Internet (44%), social media (36%) and emails (31%).

  • New research seems to prove that tweeting, posting to Facebook or checking LinkedIn when you are working makes you less productive. The study, by a computing professor from Middle Tennessee State University, found that social media at work holds back even the best multi-taskers, interrupting them from duties that can take time to get back into.

8. Affecting Self-Esteem

Selfies, comments and likes on social media can boost your self-esteem, but in some cases, it can also affects negatively your self-esteem! This comes from people comparing themselves to peers on Facebook and Twitter.

People often look at others’ social networking sites, admire their clothes, lifestyles, or even relationships. Sometimes, they wish their own lives were as great as others. This could lead to low self-esteem, and depression according to several studies. 

  • A recent british survey has found around two-thirds of people on social media post images to their profiles to make their lives seem more adventurous.And more than three quarters of those asked said they judged their peers based on what they saw on their Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook profiles.

  • The British survey, by smartphone maker HTC, found that, in order to make our own pages and lives appear more exciting, six per cent also said they had borrowed items to include in the images in order to pass them off as their own.More than half of those surveyed said they posted images of items and places purely to cause jealousy among friends and family.

  • study by the University of Missouri-Columbia suggests Facebook users who experience envy could develop symptoms of depression.

  • Dove recently conducted a social media survey—and combining their findings with Twitter data, reached some pretty shocking conclusions: Women wrote more than 5 million negative tweets in 2014. Four out of every five negative beauty tweets from women were about themselves.

  • Research suggests increased amounts of time on Facebook may lead to body image insecurity. They further suggest that our comparisons to our friends’ photos are more influential than photos of celebrities.

  • study inThe International Journal of Eating Disorders showed Social Media exposure can promote distorted body image perception. Increased use of Facebook has additionally been associated with higher rates of disordered eating.

9. Being Distracted

One of the main disadvantages of social networking is the distraction in daily life. The majority of people could not go an hour without checking for updates and this could cause us to get distracted from what is actually important in life. Therefore, instead of concentrating on work, family, and school, people tend to spend the majority of their time on looking for the status updates, photographs, or headlines. 


  • Almost half of drivers distracted by their smartphones are busy using social media, suggested by a new survey from wireless carrier AT&T of 2,067 people between the ages 16-65 years old. Key activities self-reported by the drivers — in addition to texting and using email — include “surfing the Net,” taking selfies and shooting videos.

  • In a study conducted by Dr. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University - Dominguez Hills, students were observed studying for a 15 minute period where they were told to "study something important.” He found was that students generally started to lose focus after about three minutes. On average "students only spent about 65 percent of the observation period actually studying." That’s not exactly what you might consider “quality” studying time

  • Dr. Rosen did another study where he surveyed high school students and asked them how often they switch from studying to doing something related to technology such as checking email, Facebook, texting or watching TV. Across all grade levels, 80% of students reported that they switch between studying and technology somewhat often to very often. Students who were the most distracted generally had the most windows open on their computers. Students who were less distracted had higher GPAs than students who switched back and forth fairly often and those who regularly check Facebook or text messages.

  • Those are the findings of a new survey, which showed that as millennials spend more time engaged on social media platforms, it's causing them to be less social in real life. The study, conducted by Flashgap, a photo-sharing application with more than 150,000 users, found that 87 percent of millennials admitted to missing out on a conversation because they were distracted by their phone. Meanwhile, 54 percent said they experience a fear of missing out if not checking social networks.

  • Nearly 3,000 participants were asked about how they felt about social media in social settings, and found that the guiltiest culprits are often females. The study found 76 percent of females check social media platforms at least 10 times when out with friends, compared with 54 percent of males.



Well there you have it! All the positive and negative sides of social media according to various researches and studies. I totally agree with all the positive aspects of social media. As for the negative aspects, I am not surprised that there are many negative features. I am more surprised that I actually experienced some of them!

I usually look at myself as an outsider. Someone who is not a follower of the newest trends, hypes or whatsoever. I try to be different, unique and cool by not letting myself get carried away by the next best thing.  

So when I was using social media extensively, I did get addicted to it and yes I was looking and updating my status constantly like everyone else. Also, I was taking a lot of pictures trying to post the "perfect" photo to impress. And yes, I was also trying to expand my online friends by sending lots of friend requests to people I knew and also to people that I didn’t knew. And yes, social media did effect my mood and I was getting emotional when someone didn’t accept my friend request or didn’t tag me on a photo haha…

I am just glad that I was not able to use social media while I was staying in China. This has helped me realize these issues that I was having with social media. Even when I came back home after a full year of not using social media, I was more proud of myself that I didn’t get back to it.  

However, once I started studying again (Msc International Marketing) I was forced to use social media particularly Facebook  for the usual discussions about projects and school work. And still, it even worked out during my study periods whereas I didn’t get back to my old routine. This made me believe that If I even decide to use social media (socially) again, then I will do it consciously and thoughtfully.

Also, looking at the negative aspects of social media, research shows that certain issues mainly affect teens and young adutls. So perhaps as I am getting older I am realing that social media wasn't all that and that I am able to live without it affecting and controling my daily life. I am using Whatsapp to remain in contact with family and close friends along with LinkedIn to link up with professionals. And from time to time I write blogs about topics that interest me. But besides that I am strickly on a social media diet. 

Nevertheless, there is no denying that social media is a fantastic tool for networking, staying in touch and business promotions. For social purposes the advice I can give is not to overuse it and to remember that there is more to life then just social media. The impact for me of not using social media constantly was mainly the fact that I am able to kick back old school again and enjoy life. Try it out and if it doesn’t work out then you can always get back to it and use it again. As for me, no thanks Im good…..



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