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In the history of development, the world has seen different ages that were marked by a characteristic life activity or an invention that marked what was to become the main centre of interest. Each of these ages saw their current inventions as the climax and for any country to be a great resource of the time; it had to be well versed in them.
Some of these ages are regarded as revolutions because of the impact they had on the general life direction of the population. Some of these ages are the Stone Age, agricultural revolution, industrial revolution and currently, the information age.
Each of these periods was accompanied by supporting technological inventions. The information age of today is the central focus of almost all generations.
The information age is supported by lots of media technologies that are rolling out day by day making it a fast moving age. They have both positive and negative impacts on the social lives of people using them. Life has become profoundly techno cultural.
There is no other culture other than that which is being shaped my media relations today. In other words, technology is altering cultures and forming an almost new culture (Clarke 55). In this paper, we shall focus mainly on blogging, social networking, email or chat, news update, share image or video, radio and music, gaming, mobile telephony and TV.
The aim is to evaluate how new media technologies are impacting on social lives. We shall evaluate each of these in that order and finally present some of the criticisms that go along with these technologies.
Webblogs are a popular tool now being used by web users. They are being used for personal diaries, journalism, political commentary, advertisements, entertainment, business and much more (Mitra para 3).
As a business, you can develop a blog and sell it for money. A good example is where America Online bought Webblog.inc. Individual blogs are a common practice with most people going for Google AdSense to write for advertisements.
Individual blogs like those in entertainment also attract advertisers, earning revenue for the owners. In journalism, world wide news is being sparked through blogs. Just like in any other form of popular journalism, blogs are as good as their authors. They are in a big way providing news that would otherwise not been revealed.
One has to be cautious though in the blog news because they are not always fact based. Blogs can therefore be said to be informative, entertaining and income generating. The good thing is that they are two way and very interactive, allowing comments to be posted below them.
Like blogging, social sites are excellent in providing avenues for business, interacting, news and a major way of influencing others. They are the most widely form of communication used today by tech-savvy individuals. Some examples of social media sites are Facebook, MySpace and Twitter which happen to be very popular. LinkedIn is a professional form of the same (Heer and Boyd 34).
Friends on social media sites are a trusted source of information today. If one wants to read a newspaper online or even watch online TV, he/she is likely to log in first to a social site and see what the friends are discussing. Unlike before, it is easier to now launch and advertise a business, all owed to social media. With increased life demands of today, it has become increasingly difficult to do the traditional way of visiting people and chatting one on one (Mitra 25).
Social sites have introduced a time saving and convenient way of achieving the same. These sites are being used to maintain old and new friendships. Some people however fault this saying that it has led to increased isolation of people. Hampton et al however argue that “the level of isolation among people today is not higher than it was thirty years ago” (2).
She argues that most people will have at least one person with whom they discuss important matters. People are revealing more of their fears and worries on these sites unlike before when people held much to themselves in a bid to appear in total control of things (Kushner 25).
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One of the best channels you can use to influence people is social sites. For instance you would see some of most influential people on the planet with millions of followers on these sites. A good example is Oprah Winfrey.
Email and chat
Email seems to have replaced the old letter writing used to communicate official information or relatively secretive information. Even though it is not entirely safe for much classified messages (because of snooping), it still forms the most widely used form of official communication online (Boase et al 3).
Email is perhaps convenient because of its speed. You can send a message that will instantly be received by the recipient. Job applications, responses, and company employee information channels use emails as the most convenient mode.
Advertisements that are made on these pages are not left out in impacting on the social lives of the users. Most of the time, advertisers of socially diffuse items like body enhancement products, clothing and designer cars or products are known to take advantage of such sites. Emails are also convenient for personal messages.
Most email providers provide a chat feature that allows you to communicate real time with another person on a similar page. Chat rooms are also available on other social networking sites. Most of these are written chats on which both parties type a message that appear on the other side on pressing the enter button.
Chats also encompass live chats that involve voice, commonly called voice chats. They are almost like phone calls except you can see the person calling on the screen if it has a webcam. Skype is one such chat. These forms of chats have replaced physical traveling as a father in Japan can talk to a daughter in London as they see each other face to face on the screen. The result is less physical traveling and more of media technology.
This covers a wider area because it touches on almost all forms of social media. The most common ones come via radio and TV. Others come via social sites and phone and are linked to certain news providers. Often one has to subscribe to get these updates. They could be in business, politics or other general news.
They keep people always updated on the ongoing events and hence people are able to seize opportunities in good time. It also enables movement in response to the news. For instance, weather updates enable people to schedule movement appropriately. Business updates direct people to where to search for opportunities (Utz 230).
Share image or video
This feature enables one to post an image especially a photographed or scanned one or a video record for the sake of recipients to see it. It could happen on social media of other video pages where viewers frequent. Users of this feature share anything they from trip photos to cooking videos.
It is also a very good way that serves as a mode of sharing news or evidence for news. People who have camera phones are especially known to capture images and videos of incidents that happen around them and share them online. YouTube is one such video site doing video hosting that people will make use of. Shared videos are also used for educative purposes (Mitra para 5).
There are students who take home lessons and they utilize this facility a lot. Some other video hosting sites are Photobucket, Vimeo, Dailymotion and Yahoo. One advantage of these is that they capture most of what will appear in the news and therefore it will be possible to capture motion pictures of what appeared in the news long after they news is gone.
Any person can always keep updated using these clips. The clips also go to the extent of bringing online videos that are entertainment oriented. Instead of buying a video record of any type, for instance music video, one just needs to log in to these sites and watch the full video as desired.
It is not a very new concept but has continuously remained influential on the social lives of many. A disc jockey on radio can have a large following and will influence them largely without him being influenced by his listeners. This is because there is no immediate feedback from listeners.
It is capable of developing a ‘clique’ or group with its own language. In fact, radio is a major contributor to development of slang. Perhaps one of the reason radio has reduced its following is that much of its presentation is a one sided account (The Atlantic Monthly Group 1).
Radio is used to address an open ended destination. Information is given and the listeners choose what to do with it (Durham 212). Radio is not as addictive as some other modern social media or even TV. Many people are able to control the number of hours they spend listening to any radio program or channel.
There are a variety of online games that can be played online and they range in variety for all ages. The most common game plans are those which require two players. They create a virtual world that to some extent pulls the players of the real world.
Much of the social effects of gaming is not positive and creates alienation of the players since they can only interact in pairs or in smaller groups and this is not actual interaction as they are all drawn to the game. However, the strength and emotional impact is related to the duration of the play and not necessarily on the total hours spent per week (Castulus para 5).
Gaming can improve one’s skills especially in computer usage where you have to enter complicated commands. It should however be handled with care especially for children who might become addicted to the proceedings of the game and overly do it. It may affect their social relations in the world outside the computer. It should be made sure that they only impact on children in positive ways.
The mobile telephone is perhaps the most efficient and effective of the social tools. For a long time now, it has been used to impact positively though sometimes rudely by the owners. Its impact has only been rivaled by internet. Its inclusion of internet however makes it remain perhaps the terminal social tool.
Its speed, real time response and ease of use make it convenient and now, almost a basic need of many (Faulhaber para 8). You will find that even though people buy other machines like the PC, iPad and others, the mobile phone will still be an important option for them.
Users of the cell phone report that they use their mobile phone for social purposes. It serves as an important tool for social connection and managing social relationships. Use of the mobile phone has proved to be a rich area in enhancing social relations (Baker 81).
A recent study indicated that cell phones are an integral part in young Australians’ lives. Most feel that cell phones are part of them. In his research, Bond (515) evaluated use of mobile phones by children and concluded that they were fundamental tools that reinforce relationships among peers.
Some people however argue that the mobile phone has become a social isolating tool, and generates negative attitudes since it may cause disturbance to others if not used carefully. They argue that it is not only the user who is engaged in cell phone activity but also bystanders or proximate others.
Its use in areas like theatres, public transportation, parks and streets need to be regulated. Its use within common family time also interrupts conversations, dining or other activities that might be jointly done within the family (Baker 82).
Results of different studies indicate that there are almost as many callers on mobile phone as there are those who text. In a psychological study of the personality characteristics of the users of the two features, it was found that those who text are more lonely and socially anxious than those who call.
Another observation is that those who text use significantly less bills than callers. In a very noticeable observation, both talkers and those who text reported that a text is more likely to build a new relationship than a call. Callers indicated using texts when they meant to deliver a more careful message.
People who text, unlike those who call, are likely to maintain a closely knit group of friends and informally form ‘text circles’ (Donna para 6-7).
It was invented as a result of scientific research. If looked at from one perspective, television broadcasting can be viewed as a powerful form of social integration. In many of its aspects, it is viewed as a manipulative tool. Throughout its social history, it has altered most institutions and forms of social relationships. It is a great source of entertainment and media news.
In fact most people want the media to capture and digest information for them and they therefore watch news on television for the advantage of interpretation. It enhances our relationship with people of the rest of the world. Nevertheless, it has impacted on social values, culture and family processes.
Most of people’s lifestyles are influenced by TV. For instance, if a certain fashion of a dress is released, the biggest media that broadcasts it is the TV (Booth 27). People identify socially with each other when they find something in common about them. For this reason, TV is a very crucial media technology.
Television is very educative and informative. It serves as a blackboard from which people can selectively learn good cultural and social behaviors. Some informative and entertaining programmes presented on TV play a big role in shaping a society’s social life. It is also likely to be first in releasing the top songs of any time and so many people rely on it for the latest entertainment.
Precaution should be taken since TV can also impact negatively on social lives of the users. The most common is young children becoming addicted to it and young adults taking the negative aspects of entertainment. However some programmes like educative cartoons and those that are not violent or obscene impact positively on the children.
Generally new media technology has played a major role in expanding the social scope of people. In spite of the fact that they can impact negatively, social media technologies if used for the right reasons and intended purpose will have a very impressive result.
The world we are living today is a result of concerted effort of people who invented different types of media technologies, while its livelihood is a result of how we use that media. As much as fault can be found in the general impact of the social media technologies, more good than bad will be found.
Social media has helped mend broken ties among people, have maintained existing relationships and established new ones. Media helps in forming a culture and culture is made of people with specific social ties.
It can therefore be said that media helps to socialize people. A relationship of all aspects of media influence can be made to arrive at a web of innumerable advantages of media technologies.
Suggestion for further research
In this study, it was noted that despite the sharing of good social values, some rich cultures may be adopted in the bid to take up modern trends brought about by new media technologies. It would be suggested, therefore, that a study be done on the impact of the rate of change in social lives today as the media technologies change at a very fast rate.
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