Are social networking sites good for our society? ProCon.org updates popular website on social media

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The 47% of Americans who use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have spent billions of minutes social networking in 2012.

The increasing prevalence of social communication via computers, apps, and mobile devices has been constant and controversial. Is social media advancing beneficial social, political, and business changes, or is it causing a harmful dependence on screen-based technology and spawning less meaningful interpersonal relationships? Are we better off in our new world of constant social connectivity, or has more social media communication brought more problems?

ProCon.org, a nonpartisan research organization devoted to critical thinking on controversial issues, debuts its revamped website, socialnetworking.procon.org, and delves into the pros and cons of the core question “Are social networking sites good for society?”

Proponents of social networking sites say that the online communities promote increased interaction with friends and family; offer teachers, librarians, and students valuable access to educational support and materials; facilitate social and political change; and disseminate useful information rapidly.

Opponents of social networking say that the sites prevent face-to-face communication; waste time on frivolous activity; alter children’s brains and behavior making them more prone to ADHD; expose users to predators like pedophiles and burglars; and spread false and potentially dangerous information.

In addition to in-depth research on the pros and cons of social media, the revamped ProCon.org social networking website contains a historical background section, videos, photos, over 200 footnotes and sources, and Did You Know? facts including:

  1. Social networking sites are the top news source for 27.8% of Americans, ranking below newspapers (28.8%) and above radio (18.8%) and print publications (6%).
  1. Students who used social media had an average GPA of 3.06 versus non-users who had an average GPA of 3.82. Students who used social networking sites while studying scored 20% lower on tests.
  1. 35 global heads of state, every US Cabinet agency, 84% of US state governors, every major candidate for US President, and more than 40% of top global religious leaders are on Twitter.
  1. 10% of people younger than 25 years old respond to social media and text messages during sex.
  1. In July 2012 Americans spent 74.0 billion minutes on social media via a home computer, 40.8 billion minutes via apps, and 5.7 billion minutes via mobile web browsers for a total of 121.1 billion minutes on social networking sites in one month.

For pros, cons, and related research on whether or not social networking is good for society, visit socialnetworking.procon.org.