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Sociology and Young Adults Essay

Introduction

In the late 20th century, the World Wide Web was introduced followed by the Friendster, the firsts social media was introduced. Following that, many other social media focusing on different functions such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram were introduced. According to a research on America internet users aged 18 and above in November 2014 by Cowen and Company, 74% of the total social network accessed are to Facebook. This makes up a high percentage which makes it a worthy social media platform for this research to be conducted on. Facebook was launched in 2007 with more than 1.3 billion monthly users currently. (Edwards 2014). 25% of them are from aged 16-24 (The Statistics Portal n.d.). According to a study on American young adults, they each spend an average of 42 minutes a day on Facebook itself (eMarketer.com 2014).

Facebook no doubt has improved our ability to connect with our friends and family in our daily lives. However, they also brought about negative implications. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.” said Patricia Greenfield, a psychology professor at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and senior author of the study (Lewis 2014). This finding is from a study on two groups of six graders where they are on a camp, one of the group is without technology. The group of students without screen based technology for five days improved in recognising emotions.

Although this study is based on young children instead of young adults where the ability in recognising emotions has not been developed yet. However, if the same study were to be carried out on two groups of young adults, similar results are most probably happen as the ability of recognising emotions could be eroded with the long term use of screen based technology without social interaction. This proves that there is a direct relationship between the time spend on screen based technology and the ability to recognise different emotions. According to Forbes magazine, only 7% of communication is verbal or written and the 93% is on non-verbal cues such as body language, eye contact, and tone of voice (Tardanico 2012).

This would mean that with the long term use of screen-based technology, the ability to recognise emotion and the ability to use body language to communicate will be eroded. Since non-verbal cues made up the majority of the communication, social interaction skills will be greatly affected. A person could be conversing with the wrong or without any emotion and be talking expressionlessly. This could also result in a person being socially awkward or shy when not facing the screen which is a serious issue. Therefore, this research proposal will be discussing the undermining social interaction among young adults, aged 18-25, in relation to the time usage on social media platform Facebook and further relations.

Personal experience and perspective
My research is limited to past researches and practices in class as an undergraduate as well as my personal experiences. As a young adult living in the 21st century with constant fast pace technology advancement, I am concern with the negative social impacts it has brought to myself and my peers. This research topic was chosen as this is becoming a major problem amongst young adults not only in Singapore but globally in most developing countries. Although awareness of this issue is present, there is little that has been done to curb this raising problem. There is also a lack of in-depth research on its further implications which is much needed before the appropriate actions could be taken.

Research topic and field

This researches target to look into the relationship with the time spend on Facebook and the undermining social interaction as well as any negative impacts been brought about. The study will based on communication and sociology.

Locating research literature

The research journal article used for this research review was from the mixture of ProQuest database and Google Scholar search using keywords and filters by the field of study to remove the irrelevant journal articles. For example, since this research topic is related to human behaviour and personality, psychology articles may appear which would defeat the purpose of this research as it focuses on the field of sociology and communication. Articles used to prove the importance of providing concern of the raising issue is as far as possible obtained from credible news sites and dated back within the past 3 years to ensure relevancy. Since the time of research, new journal articles are between searched weekly using similar keyword searches each time to monitor any latest journal article being published. It is to accommodate for as many journal articles as well as recent journal articles as far as possible.

Literature review

The past researches used for review was indirectly related to the research topic of the relationship between time spend on social media and the impacts on social interaction. Although not directly related, they are of close relation to the research topic and could be used as reference to the possible outcomes. Therefore, I would like researchers, relevant government organisations and other relevant societies to look into this rising problem and take the necessary actions for the good of the community. According to past research by (Katherine Chak 2004) on 722 internet users, it is said that the more addicted the person is to the internet, the more shy the person is. The addiction of the person is based on frequency of use in terms of both the number of days per week as well as the time spend of each session.

However, the time spend on social media should not be the only factor used to determine an individual’s shyness. Previous studies (Hargittai 2008; Sheldon 2008; Tufekci 2008) have analysed the different types of people who uses Facebook but only few mentioned on how personality traits may affect the way how they uses technology in maintaing their relationship. It is warned by (Ryan and Xenos 2011) that the area of research is critical as personality is the governing factor to people’s behaviour on the internet (Y. and Vinitzky 2010). Several studies have used the Big 5 personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism to understand the relationship between the used of Facebook and personality of those individuals. For example, (Ross 2009) discovered individual who are high in extrovation belong to more Facebook groups and those who are higher in neuroticism are more likely to post on the wall as compared to those who score lower in neuroticism.

Extrovated individuals tend to have more Facebook friends (Amichai-Hamburger 2002), while introverts tend to put it more personal information as compared to extroverts (Y. and Vinitzky 2010). A research by (Uhls, et al. 2014) on the relation between the used of screen based technology and the ability to interpret non-verbal emotion cues. It is proved that the removal of screen based technology from a group of six grader led to an improvement in the ability to interpret body langauge after 5 days of outdoor educational camp. The experiment was conducted with a pre test on the children’s ability to read non-verbal emotion cues in order to measure the improvement at the end of the camp. It was conducted with two groups of six graders, with one group with scren based technology while the other without.

However, the improved ability in reading non verbal emotion cues could be caused by the children being exposed to nature activities as proven in studies stating the cognitive benefits of interacting with nature (D.L. and Atchley 2012; Jonides and Kaplan 2008) stating that an isolation from urban setting can often led to an indivdual ability to comprehend emotions of others. Due to the lack of research in this area, further research with a different setting other than an outdoor education camp would be needed to further support the aboved research. Further exploring on the possible reasons that led to young adults spending quite a propotion of time on Facebook, studies by stated that shy individuals tend to spend more time on social media as compared to non-shy indivduals as they prefer the feeling on being annoymous in the virtual world.

In this case, this is not valid since Facebook is not a annoymous. However, other studies such as (Xenos and Ryan 2011) stated the opposite which shy individuals do not spend more time on Facebook as compared to non-shy individuals. The research articles that are dated within three years for the research topic was very limited and review was done with reference to similar topics from different hypothesis with can be compared with only to a certain extent. They were all not extensive and analysis was not deep enough as well. Therefore, attention to this raising concern should be addressed, more in-depth and extensive research across all similar area should be done. The relevant authorities globally in all the affected developed countries should also take action, whether is media creating awareness or national campaign by the youth council.

Research hypothesis

This research paper will be looking into whether the usage or the over usage Facebook undermine social interaction among young adults and the reasons governing the issues.

Research purpose and audience

The main audience for this this research is my lecturer, Ms Jesslyn Lau, whom has also provided guidance. Moreover, this research is targeted for the Ministry of Community Development and Ministry of Social and Family Development since it concerns the young adults in Singapore and might also affect their communication with family members. It is main purpose to create awareness to the above mention authorities as well as other relevant authorities to address this raising concern.


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