Studies show social media may be good for networking, not personal skills

Social networking is one of the fastest growing communication channels. However, social networking can be the detriment to personal contact and interpersonal communication.

A new study from the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at University of Maryland shows American college students who admit they are addicted to social media have symptoms of withdrawal from the technology world similar to drug and alcohol addictions.

There were 200 students who were asked to give up all media for 24 hours and then asked to blog on their experience.

Susan Moeller, a journalism professor at University of Maryland, said, “We were surprised by how many students admitted that they were ‘incredibly addicted’ to media…we noticed that what they wrote at length about was how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media meant, in their world, going without their friends and family,” according to the study.

Social networking is the ability to communicate and interact with people who share the same interests on a global level. Some examples of social networking sites are MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.

While this form of communication is one that is growing globally, interpersonal skills are dying out.

“It’s possible that some might turn to social networking to shy away from direct contact,” said David Harris, a third-year psychology student from Miami.

Social networking has taken leaps and causes many to question logic, such as whether sending a letter via postal service is more personal than that of an email, text message, or tweet.

However, individuals such as Sharon Johnson-Arnold, CEO and consultant of Technowrite Inc., said social networking has positive connotations to interpersonal communication.
“I am definitely a fan of social networking, it allows us to stay connected to people very easily,” Johnson-Arnold said.

She believes social networking is not a hindrance to interpersonal communication because it offers the ability to locate lost friends, build relationships with new people and connect with people globally.

Social networking can allow us to communicate quickly and effectively, however social networking may be an easy scapegoat to reality.