In many ways, students live both in the land-based or physical world as well as in the virtual world; leading what some considers parallel lives.
Helliwell & Putman (2004) posit that social networking sites may offer an avenue for the development of greater social capital which may serve to further reinforce students' likelihood of integrating Facebook and other social media sites into their regular routines. A suggestion made as to the possible reason for the purported decline in mature interpersonal relationships is social media and advances in technology Helliwell & Putnam, 2004.
The following study will build a base of knowledge regarding several popular social media sites including Facebook, and examine the role social media plays in a college students' development and interpersonal relationships.
Technology has revolutionized and transformed the way in which people relate in one another and in this way it has greatly impacted the communication between people. Some of the technological devices which have been thought to cause these effects include televisions, radios, mobile phones, personal computers, laptops and other handheld devices. These devices have brought different technologies to our lives and have come to change how we establish ourselves in our day-to-day lives and how we relate to one another.
As described above, it can be definitely extrapolated that technology has both negative and positive influences on our lives. By examining the positive and negative effects of technology in personal relationships, we can understand how technology has come to become a huge thing in our everyday lives.
1.1.1 Positive effects of technology on personal relationships
There are many positive effects of technology. First, with the advent of the Internet, the world has become greatly interconnected and the Internet has greatly eased personal communication. No matter which side of the world a person in, it is very easy for them to converse with each other and through the cyberspace.
The Internet has also had a great influence on how couples have formed and also how these couples relate to one another. There are many dating sites that have now come up in the world and it is from these dating websites that people have found matches to have relationships with. Many of these dating websites provide match making services which have become extremely popular around the world and these services help to create potential matches by looking at the similarities in likes and dislikes (interests and disinterests). These dating sites have become very popular around the world and they have helped to shape the dating world and have forged relationships that are not bound by time or distance.
Almost all dating sites provide chat rooms which are a common interaction place where people go to spend their free time or alternatively they go to meet people with who they are matched up with for a chat. These dating sites also offer private chat rooms where when two or more people like each other, they can go to the private rooms to have a conversation which mutes the 'noise' created by other people in the common chat rooms. This helps to forge a greater bond between those chatting.
Online dating is thought to be a replacement to face-to-face meet ups which were more common in the earlier days and has come up as one of the positive effects that technology has on personal relationships.
Technology has also helped to provide a cheaper and more affordable method of communicating with one another. Communication online on most websites such as Facebook, Twitter, via email, dating sites and other websites is usually free in most cases and even where it is charged, the charges are more affordable as compared to the traditional modes of communication such as snail mail and using messengers.
These new methods of communication that have been brought about by technology are also much faster in passing the message across and in this way, they have had a huge positive impact on how people communicate with each other and thus on personal and interpersonal relationships.
1.1.2 Negative effects of technology on personal relationships
Technology has also had negative effects. One of these negative implications is that messages which were pretty simple and best delivered face-to-face are not delivered using the various other methods presented by technology such as using text messages and emails. This goes to show that technology has largely reduced socialization in the office and has contributed to weakening the previously strong bonds that had been forged between people in real life and also in the workplace.
It can be clearly seen that there is a convenience that is afforded to the users who use various forms of technology to pass information. However, on the other hand, these forms of technology just cannot fill the space and convey the warmth and feeling that is afforded by the beautiful situation of a face-to-face meeting. In as much as various forms of technology can be used to pass information, these completely replace the feeling of a warm handshake and a person's physical presence since it is quite difficult to convey feelings, emotions and reactions via these different forms of technology.
This situation can be seen in the business world. In as much as it is possible and quite easy to negotiate a deal on the phone or via email, businessmen feel more comfortable when they have a chance to meet the person who they are dealing with face-to-face. This is because there are many things that a person can see from another's face that you cannot see in an email. It also helps them to size up their partners before they can make any commitment.
Another negative effect of technology is that it reduces the amount of time spent communicating in real life. According to the office of National Statistics of the UK government, people of the adult age in the United Kingdom spend over 42 days a year at their computers browsing the internet. This is a huge amount of time spent considering the amount of time that is dedicated to free time which is spent on the Internet and also keeping in mind that email and Facebook are currently the most done activities on the Internet.
In families, parents are complaining that their children are spending an awful lot of time using various technology devices rather than the time spent bonding as a family. You may find that many children bring their laptops, mobile phones or other hand held devices to the most awkward of places such as the dining table or to family meetings and outings. These various technological devices negatively impact the family moment and increase the disconnect between the children and their parents.
In the case of relationships, technology has greatly impacted the various activities that were popular with dating such as the man picking up the lady to go to dinner in a tuxedo or suit with the woman spotting a to-die-for dinner dress or handwritten love letter which are sent via snail mail which would brighten up the day for the one to who it was sent. These activities have been replaced by the incorporate of technology in relationships. For example, you may find that people have e-dates via various services such as Skype or other video and audio chatting services or instead of sending handwritten letters, there are e-cards and emails which do the exactly same thing though in a different way and with a quite different outcome.
Saying "I love you" on Facebook isn't the same as saying the same words face-to-face. Everyone can agree to this. It doesn't feel the same when you hear the words said by your lover and you read them in a text message or via Facebook. This is one of the negative impacts of technology on personal relationships since technology cuts out the otherwise sweet moments that would have been created by face-to-face conversations.
1.2 Purpose of the Study
This study seeks to examine students' use of Facebook and other social media and how it primarily impacts their psychosocial development, especially with regard to their development of mature interpersonal relationships as evidenced by Chickering and Reisser's Vector-Based Model (1993) of student development, social capital Lampe et al., 2006()
, and identity development Erickson, 1968.
The goal, then, of this study is to examine whether there is a link between student's use of social media and student development theory.
1.3 Research Questions and Hypothesis
Online social networks have been particularly useful for those individuals who have difficulties forming strong offline relationships. Research that was conducted shows that by having personal relationships online, individuals who have a low psychological well-being are able to have close ties with family and friends J. Bargh & McKenna, 2004.
Online relationships are also known to reduce the barriers that exist in the interaction of individuals offline such as shyness and lack of a physical connection. They also help to increase the element of self-disclosure in the relationship J.A. Bargh et al., 2002.