Social networking is a topic that divides opinion - some people think it's an amazing tool but others are worried about the impact it has on people's lives.
From students to journalists, One Direction to the Prime Minister - lots of people use social media sites for both work and pleasure.
School Reporters from across the UK have reported on staying safe online and the perils of Twitter 'addiction' in the last few months.
Students from The Crest Girls' Academy in London are also interested in the topic and recently polled parents, carers and teachers at their school to get their views on social networking.
The survey found that 37% of those questioned had been left sleep-deprived as a result of social networking and 75% didn't like the idea of phones being kept close by while they slept. Other School Reporters have also looked into the issue of technology and its effect on teenagers' sleeping habits.
The students decided to explore the issue further and have been taking a closer look at the benefits - and potential risks - of using social networks. Here are some of their conclusions as to the main benefits and drawbacks of social media.
Not everyone in the 21st century thinks about the negative effects of having social networking accounts - but simple things like not setting your privacy settings properly or liking someone's photo can have bad results.
Cyberbullying can be a problem as people can take advantage of the fact that there is no one who can effectively stop the bullying when it happens, due to everything being performed behind a screen. The only way for a bully to be stopped is if they are reported and victims may be too intimidated to do it.
Social networking can also ruin relationships as people may get jealous if they find out their boyfriend or girlfriend is exchanging messages with other people.
It can also be a waste of time as people can visit a site to check on thing and end up spending the whole day 'behind the screen' and as a result, not doing anything useful with their lives.
Social networking has lots of good points
You can express yourself, showing off your favourite song lyrics or posting pictures of your new outfit. It is a lot harder to feel embarrassment over the internet than in person, so people find it easier to vent their feelings on sites like Facebook.
In fact, it has become so much a part of people's lives that you can learn someone's life story just by checking their page. Their friends, likes and dislikes, relationship status, phone number, address…everything.
You can share your feelings and your mental stresses - and it is a great way to entertain yourself after a busy daily routine.
It also makes it a lot easier to keep in touch with family and friends, especially if they live far away. But you can also make new friends by connecting with friends of friends that you might not know.
The popularity of the social networking sites increased rapidly in the last decade. This is probably due to the reason that college and university students as well as teens used it extensively to get global access. These social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have become a raging craze for everyone nowadays.
The negative effects of these social networking sites overweigh the positive ones. These sites have caused some potential harm to society. The students become victims of social networks more often than anyone else. This is because of the reason that when they are studying or searching their course material online, they get attracted to these sites to kill the boredom in their study time, diverting their attention from their work. Other negative side effects of social networking websites include the following:
Reduced learning and research capabilities
Students have started relying more on the information accessible easily on these social networking sites and the web. This reduces their learning and research capabilities.
Students who get involved in activities on social media sites while studying result in reduction in their focus of attention. This causes reduction in their academic performance, and concentration to study well.
Reduction in real human contact
The more time the students spend on these social media sites, the less time they will spend socializing in person with others. This reduces their communication skills. They will not be able to communicate and socialize effectively in person with others. The employers are getting more and more unsatisfied with the communication skills of the fresh graduates due to this reason. The effective communication skills are key to success in the real world.
Reduces command over language use age and creative writing skills
Students mostly use slang words or shortened forms of words on social networking sites. They start relying on the computer grammar and spelling check features. This reduces their command over the language and their creative writing skills.
Students, while searching and studying online, get attracted to using social media sites and sometimes they forget why they are using internet. This wastes their time and sometimes students are not able to deliver their work in the specified time frame.
Students get low grades in school due to lack of the desired information and writing skills.
Loss of motivation in students
The student’s motivational level reduces due to the use of these social networking sites. They rely on the virtual environment instead of gaining practical knowledge from the real world.
Effect on health
The excessive use of these sites affect the mental as well as physical health. Students do not take their meals on time and take proper rest. They take excessive amount of coffee or tea to remain active and focused which effects negatively on their health.
The overuse of these sites on a daily basis has many negative effects on the physical and mental health of students making them lethargic and unmotivated to create contact with the people in person. The parents should check and balance on their children when they use the internet. They should be on guard whether they are using it for appropriate time period or not. The peers and teachers should also help students make them aware of the negative effects and explain what they are losing in the real world by sticking to these social networking sites.