It is quite obvious that a large number of young people are hooked to social networking today. A 2010 study by Kaiser Family Foundation found that teens are spending 7 Â˝ hours on online for surfing web, listening music and social networking. Pew Internet Project research related to social networking published in December 2013 found that up to 90% of young internet users in the 18-29 group use social networking sites. There are concerns about the damaging effects that the increasing use of social networks can have on the younger generation. However, an article published in The Globe and Mail says that social media has improved the verbal, research and critical-thinking skills of the younger generation.Â As they spend more time online, they are also spending far more time imbibing new information and interacting with diverse audiences.
The article tells of a Standford professor who collected 877 freshman compositions from 1917 to 2006 to analyze the quality of writing. The analysis busted the theory that the digital generation displayed a higher average rate of errors in spelling, grammar and word. It was found there was virtually no change in the number of errors over the past century. Moreover, the papers in 2006 were six times longer and more thoroughly researched than those written in 1916. The reason is that students of today are dealing with issues that need thorough inquiry and research as well as reflection. Educational standards have risen and the digital age has resulted in better availability of information.
Young people are also spending far more time writing outside their classes than before. They spend several hours on extracurricular composition in the form of texts, emails, comments, tweets and so on and this influences the quality of their writing. Sites like Twitter that limit character count have taught them how to be economical with their language. Social media is also allowing them to talk back to it.
The article also suggests digital connectedness helps the students to find a purpose in their work. Even if they are just posting a 140 character tweet, writing for a responsive audience motivates them to make their content more compelling. Clive Thompson, the author of this article explains this during an interview given to The Verge with an example of children writing a paper for a teacher and for global audience. While they are writing for a teacher, they really didnâ€™t care as they felt that the teacher was just being paid to read it and it was just an assignment. But when they saw their first comment for the paper from someone outside the classroom, they understood that they were thinking publicly and needed to generate something better.
However, this does not means social networking sites have no negative effects. Thompson admits that the impact of technology on young minds is complicated. Attention span, for instance, has declined to 8 seconds in 2013 from 12 seconds in 2000. An article published in the Public Library of Science says that Facebook can contribute to feelings of sadness and dissatisfaction. Even so, by allowing youngsters to chat and keep in touch with friends, family and others and facilitating and improving schoolwork, research and business, social media certainly offers more benefits than disadvantages.