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Imagine how much human social interaction has been affected since the introduction of online communication. It has redefined the concept of socialization. Socialization is being with and a part of other people. It is enjoying and sharing other’s company, confiding in them, and working together towards common goals. There are two kinds of socialization methods. The first is face-to-face socialization, which includes going to church, joining a club, or hanging out with friends. The second method of socialization is online communication.
This includes chatting on line, text messaging, communicating with e-mail, playing online games, or other virtual communications. Socialization banishes feelings of loneliness and promotes the sense of safety, belonging, and enjoyment that helps people to feel secure. Although face to face socialization and online socialization are competing to fulfill these goals, there are noticeable differences between them in the amount of real world experience they deliver, in how they are implemented in the teaching and learning process, in the level of threat they pose to teenagers, and on their size of geographical area coverage on socializing.
Face-to-face socialization provides deeper personal connection to the real world than online socialization. In their entire life, people go through different types of face-to-face interaction with their families, friends, and other people around them. As they engage themselves in the community they live in, they communicate through their speeches, body languages, and facial expressions. The lesson they take from these interactions gives them the necessary knowledge to grow from childhood to adolescence and adulthood.
For example, when a child makes mistakes, he comes to know what he does is wrong through the responses others give to his mistake. These responses are not limited to speech. They include body languages, facial expressions, and actions. He learns not only what is wrong but also how to correct them by observing the corrections others make to his mistakes. This makes the learning process fast and easy. The repetition of this learning process helps him in passing through the stages of human development to be a matured adult.
On the other hand, online socialization depends on the virtual world, which represents what exists in the real world in a digital format. However, it is not possible to represent every aspect of society’s activity digitally. Society’s activities are full of feelings, emotions, and actions that are difficult to be expressed in speech or writing. The digital world is restricted to recorded information on a media. This makes it difficult for online socialization to provide all the social interactions that exist in the real world.
For example, the feelings one gets while sitting with a lover cannot be totally substituted by text messaging or online chatting. These technologies transmit the written letters but not the feelings and emotions, which are easily expressed in the body languages and facial expressions. As a result, the transmitted message is not complete. In addition, online socialization has a negative effect on children’s maturity. Many children use inappropriate words in their online communication because no one is there to correct them.
Hence, children who are entirely dependent on online communication sometimes behave out of the socially accepted norms and lack the necessary knowledge to pass through the natural process of maturity. It is also important to see how these two types of socialization are implemented in the teaching and learning process. Online classes and face-to-face classes are created for different reasons and administered differently. In face-to-face classes, instructors and students meet in a physical class room at scheduled time.
This creates favorable conditions for transferring ideas. Instructors give lectures. Students comment or ask questions, interact with others in verbal discussion at any time in the class. Instructors provide feedback vocally, with body language or writing. By contrast, in online learning students have varied personal schedules and don’t necessarily need to be online at the same time with their instructors. In a typical online class, the instructor provides the necessary instructions in written and students follow the instructions to do what is expected from them.
Writing is the primary form of communication in online classes. If students need explanations, they need to write their questions and wait for hours or even days to get a reply. If the reply is not clear, they need to go through the process again. For this reason, online students are expected to refer to more books and do most of the learning part independently. This is what makes face-to-face classes more favorable than online classes in most cases. Online classes, however, are more comfortable for adult working students who do not have the time to attend face-to-face classes.
In addition, online classes are also good options for students with physical disabilities and for those students who are not comfortable with the face-to-face interactions for different reasons. The other major point for consideration in socialization is the threat associated with it on teenagers. In recent years, the effect of online predators on teenagers has become a serious issue for many parents. It generates unwelcome situations in to the teenager’s life that may have long lasting impact.
Teenagers are more vulnerable because they are highly motivated to participate in online communities and are not mature enough to protect themselves. Online socialization is seen as a source of this threat because it gives access to the predators to gain the trust of vulnerable teenagers. In addition, controlling their children’s online communication is not an easy task for many parents since they communicate from their bedrooms at any time of the day. In contrast, face-to-face socialization doesn’t have much associated threat to teenagers because it is visible and more restricted to small geographical area by its nature.
Hence, it is possible for parents to control their children’s communication easily. In general, in face-to-face socialization, parents can get to know their children’s friends, and how they spend their time together. The other main point for comparison is the geographical area coverage on socializing. It is possible to say that there is almost no geographical area limitation for online socialization. It goes across borders, oceans, and continents in an electronic speed. For example, a 13 years old girl from Pennsylvania can have an intimate friend in India.
She may know what is going on in India more than what her parents know. In contrast, in face-to-face socialization we are practically restricted to the geographical area we live in, most probably, to the city. This unlimited geographical access, however, has both its own advantages and disadvantages. Even though it helps people to get more information and coordination to tackle community level problems, such as preventing the spread of a new computer virus, it also allows the spread of false and counterproductive information.
Currently, face-to-face socialization and online socialization are the two competing available options for socializing. Most people are attracted to one option or the other. Competing School advertisements for face-to-face and online classes are common everywhere. Face-to-face socialization uses speech, body languages, facial expressions, and actions in the communication process, and it has deeper personal connection to the real world. On the other hand, online socialization is a new method based on technological advancements on specific methods of communication, such as written or voice.
It is revolutionary, as it has eliminated many restrictions that are inherent in the traditional face to face socialization. However, it has also brought new concerns to our society. Thus, it is possible to say that the two socialization methods have noticeable differences. They are both needed to address different social problems. As technology advances, online socialization has got wider acceptance; however, like any other technology, it has its own inherent limitations.
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