Social networking cons exist because of an aspect of human nature that seems prone to obsessive and addictive behaviors. There are many advantages to the use of social networks, and many of the greatest modern advances in business, science and education are due to the benefits of social networks. However, there is also a downside to this popular technology.
Facing Social Networking Cons Head-On
There are a lot of reasons why online social networks are fast becoming an invaluable part of our society. Communities where you can Interact with others online allow you to take part in education, discussions and friendly banter in ways that were never possible before, due to distance and the limitations of other forms of communication. However, in examining the advantages and disadvantages of social networking, its important to take a very serious look at the social networking cons, and ways that you can avoid or correct them.
The Mental Effects of Physical Isolation
In the book Social Consequences of Internet Use by James Everett Katz and Ronald Rice, the authors point to an intriguing study conducted by an organization called "HomeNet" in 1998 that found that greater Internet use was directly related to an increase in depression and loneliness. The explanation provided by researchers was that when people replace stronger, offline and in-person social ties with much weaker and non-personal online ties, they tend to feel isolated. Research throughout the years draws a direct connection between isolation and depression.
While it may seem counterintuitive that Internet users spending many hours communicating on online social networks would experience isolation, the fact is that the excessive computer use drastically reduces the person's real-world social interactions with family and friends. That direct in-person social interaction is critical to a person's emotional and mental health.
Heath Issues Related to Social Networking
While it may come as no surprise to many people that excessive computer and Internet use can lead to health problems, what may come as a shock are the cause doctors describe for those health issues. A 2003 study at the Harvard School of Public Health found that social isolation has an adverse effect on cardiovascular health, especially in men. The study examined how close the subjects were to family and friends and how often they took part in social gatherings. An obvious connection to the use of online social networks is the fact that online social networks reduce real-world social interactions.The study found no correlation between social isolation and cardiovascular health, but researchers were not sure why. One reason may be that when it comes to online social networks, women may be better able to draw positive benefits from those online connections, while men may require more in-person social interactions. In either case, this study should draw attention to the fact that excessive use of the Internet and social networks could potentially have negative long-term effects on your health. As with many good things in live, online social networks can be very positive, but they should be used in moderation.
Other Disadvantages or Cons of Social Networks
A number of past LoveToKnow articles touched upon other social networking cons that deserve mention. All of these important factors should be taken into account whenever you decide to spend a significant amount of time deeply involved in an online community.
- Social Networking Abuse - This article describes the may ways in which some users of online communities can abuse the system. Such abuse includes account hacking, identity theft, child predators and cyber bullying.
- Hate Social Networks - While there are many very positive and beneficial online communities, there are also a growing number of online groups with a mission to spread a message of hate about other racial, ethnic or religious groups.
- Security Issues With Social Networking Sites - This article describes the security concerns you should be aware of when you decide to start providing your personal information to other people within these online communities.
- Online Social Networking Dangers - This article lists a few additional dangers associated with online socializing including the spread of viruses, putting your credit card information at risk, or the possibility of compromising your passwords.
For the most part, the positive aspects of social networking still far outweighs the negative. The powerful ability to connect with personal and business contacts from around the globe can drastically increase your effectiveness in business, academia and in education. However, moderation is extremely important, and users of these networks need to remind themselves the first priority should always be the family and friends that are around you, love you, and want to spend time with you.