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New Research on Social Networking and What It’s Doing to Us

For years, I’ve been in dialogue with teachers, coaches and parents who wondered if social networking sites are good or bad for students.

Questions have been raised about the social impact of widespread use of social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter. Do these technologies isolate people and truncate their relationships? Or are there benefits associated with being connected to others in this way? The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project decided to examine SNS in a survey that explored people’s overall social networks and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, and community and political engagement.

Tomorrow, I will summarize the findings Pew Research made, but for now, let me provide a summary of my response to their findings:

1. Social networking is not going away any time soon. Parents and educators must find ways to harness and capitalize on this technology as a tool for growth.

2. Social networking can actually foster relationships and certainly enable an introverted person to be more “social.”

3. Social networking sites can also make us lazy—so we must balance “face” time with “screen” time to ensure we maintain our people skills, emotional intelligence and communication skills.

4. Social networking sites are taking the place of the Roledex for the Baby Boomers and the cell phone for the Gen Xers. In other words, don’t assume Facebook is just plain bad for kids. It’s a new, more efficient way to connect.

So here’s my question for you: how are you using social networking sites to develop the students around you?  Are you capitalizing on them to educate kids? Do you remember what happened with television back in the 1960s? Everyone said how evil TV was…then along came Sesame Street, Captain Kangaroo, Barney and Blues Clues. TV is neutral. We simply had to learn a way to harness TV as a tool.

This Thursday and Friday, our organization, Growing Leaders will host a National Leadership Forum called, “Develop: Cultivating Growth, Engagement and Success in Students.” One of the issues we’ll discuss is now to harness new technology to help students grow. Join us in Atlanta if you can:

What’s your feedback?  Do you (or someone you know) do this well? Please share it.



  1. Joe Cox on June 23, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I started working with students before the internet and so when I think about social networking and students in terms of what has changed, one of the first words that comes to mind is depression.  Because we are created in 3D to have real time 3D relationships, students appear to log off from social networks either a) depressed because it didn’t really gratify their need for authentic community or b) over the long haul sadly satisfied with the social networking relationships because they have lowered the bar on what a relationship is.  Either way, they are less enriched.

    • Msbailey on November 11, 2011 at 9:18 am

      i like your comment it shows what is really happening to society today and how social networking really affects then

      • Tim Elmore on November 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

        Thanks for reading and taking time to comment!

  2. ms biggs on November 11, 2011 at 9:15 am

    hay im doing a research on social networking and why its bad  for kids i think its bad because of the stuff that people be saying a person that i used to know became very depressed because of the stuff that people was saying to her and i wanted to know what can i say to make her feel better

    • Tim Elmore on November 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Social networking definitely has some great points and some not-so-great points. People can be cruel online because it doesn’t seem real – things you would never say face-to-face are much easier to type into a computer screen. If someone is at the point of depression because of social networking, it’s time to turn off the computer and interact with real people – friends who will encourage instead.

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New Research on Social Networking and What It’s Doing to Us