Risks and Benefits of Social Media

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Social networking has increasingly had a huge impact on society. Technology has opened the door to a vast amount of information and to the ability to relay that information to practically anybody at anytime and anywhere. People are constantly checking their email, updating their status on Facebook, sending tweets on Twitter, instant messaging, and texting. The debate of whether the use of social networking is a negative or positive aspect is a continuous one. In the case of Steven Pinker, his essay “Mind over Mass Media” argues that media technologies have a positive effect on mental development. In contrast, Sherry Turkle’s essay “Connectivity and Its Discontents” asserts that technology has a negative effect on interpersonal relationships. Although Pinker makes many excellent points on how technology is improving intelligence and Turkle provides exceptional ideas of how technology is damaging to relationships, neither Pinker nor Turkle provides the best answer to this question due to their lack of credibility and inclusion of logical fallacies. Instead, we should, while aware of the risks and dangers of social networking, use the Internet to its full potential. In his essay “Mind over Mass Media,” Steven Pinker proposes that media technologies are beneficial to mental development. According to Pinker, the rise of new forms of social media have been linked to the reduction in crime. He supports this claim by stating that the emergence of “video games in the 1990s coincided with the great American crime decline” (3) and that “the decades of television, transistor radios and rock videos were…decades in which I.Q. scores rose continuously” (3). He also mentions that new technologies have made more resources available, and in turn,... ... middle of paper ... ...ile Steven Pinker believes that social networking is improving society and Sherry Turkle finds it to be harmful to individuals, the real answer lies in-between the two positions. “It is a well-known fact that the web is a valuable asset for research and learning,” stated Sue Scheff in her article “Social Networking Sites Can Limit Interpersonal Skills and Physical Activity,” “…[but] it can also be a very dangerous place” (1). While the Internet is beneficial in gaining knowledge and connecting with others, it will always come with downsides as well because it can become addictive and an easy source for predators and bullies to prey on those who are vulnerable. Ultimately, “it is in our collective interest to ensure that the Internet lives up to its potential as a revolutionary connective medium” (Pariser 11) while being aware of the risks and practicing self-control.

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