The Verdict is In: Social Networking Really Does Promote Social Behaviour
Some theories are so convincing, they seem self-evident: to need no evidence other than their own grandness. Consider the new-age pet peeve to do with the modern-day involvement in young people, with disembodied social experiences through cell phones and social networking. How convenient a whipping boy electronic communicating has become for the advocates of the clean natural lifestyle. To see people staring away for hours at a glowing rectangle on a cell phone or a computer truly is an irritating sight. But to try to explain the irritation with a fanciful theory that proposes that excessive computer use can impair people socially, cause the brain to vegetate and be the cause of all evil, would be to skip a step or two.
There has been an important study released by the Pew Internet and American life Project recently that quite handily dismisses these theories as fiction and conjecture. How does a study go about measuring social availability and social skills in people? To begin with, the study takes up the lack of social prejudices in a person as a measure of social availability and maturity. In real-world relationships, people are often reluctant to form trusting relationships with people of other religions, races or nationalities. Millions of non-Facebook users on the other hand, are hopelessly mired in these practices. Social network users are also found to place themselves in real social interactions as much as the off-line crowd, often more so. Anything that actually brings the people together from around the world can only be a good thing.
This is not to say that Facebook is a magic pill for social ineptitude in people. The study does admit that a sizable 6% of regular Internet enthusiasts remain socially unsuccessful. But this proportion of the ill-adjusted has always existed in the population. And this is yet another statement for how important it is to verify intuitive casual understanding with actual scientific research. Will parents sit up and take notice?