Trends in social media use

Have you “liked” this article yet? How about shared it? Social media is so pervasive, we don’t so much as blink when we see a “share,” “like” or “tweet” button available for every graphic, video or article we view.

Though it sometimes seems like it, it was not always that way. Because of the ubiquitous nature of social media today we often forget that it did not even exist just over a decade ago. In the late 90s, the idea of it was still being developed. Now, its growth continues as it strives to keep up with the growing demands of users; one of which is particularly controversial.

Because social media use is so embedded in society, its audience has become diverse and includes people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and professions; people who, therefore, have different needs for it.

However, nothing as widespread as social media comes without controversy. Arguments against social media cite that it acts as a social depressant, isolating users from reality. Over the years, time spent online has increased as users spend more time tweeting and instagramming and less time interacting in reality.

Others argue that it promotes a sedentary lifestyle. Users spend hours sitting in front of computers, tablets and smart phones while neglecting their needs for exercise and physical activity. But, where there are naysayers, there are those who advocate for social media and its advantages.

The ability to reach out to millions of people at once can promote societal changes and the spread of information. About 72 percent of adults online use social media and one third of adults under 30 receive their news from social media. The infographic below offers a representation of the types of social media being favored by users.

Stats & Facts

Of course, different people have different uses for social media. Businesses are continually hopping aboard the social media train as a cheap means of promoting their products and services. Students reach out to friends and dating communities and even find help with homework. Employers utilize it as a way to further evaluate employees and potential employees as well as to conduct research.

None of these uses are without controversy. The most significant controversy regarding social media is split between generational gaps. Millennials, in general, see social media as a tool for everything, but still value their privacy when it comes to work and personal matters.

Contrarily, older generation-y professionals see the ubiquitous nature of social media (especially among millennials entering into the workforce) as a tool to further analyze personalities and traits of potential employees.

Andrea Linafelter, a senior human and family development studies major at Colorado State University, believes in a separation between professional and personal life.

“As someone working with clients directly, I think they need to keep their profile privacy settings very strict, but their employer should not be able to use it for or against them,” Linafelter said during an interview.

As a professional in charge of hiring employees, Emily Ambrose, an employee of the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement, has a different view.

“If you put it up, it should be acceptable,” Ambrose said during an interview. “If used appropriately, it could be an advantage.”

Regardless of the controversy surrounding these issues of privacy in the midst of social media, the fact remains that graduates and others entering the workforce will encounter the question of employers having access to social media profiles.

“The first thing I do when I encounter a potential employee is ‘Google’ them,” Laura Dowling of Dowling Public Relations said. “You can tell more about them in five minutes on Facebook than in 20 minutes during an interview.”

Regardless of its popularity, a survey of more than 100 people indicated that more than 50 percent of people do not find it acceptable to request social media information from potential employees. Of that survey, professionals made up about 64 percent, with the remaining 36 percent being made up of students.

Despite what users say, statistics indicate the growth of social media as a tool in seeking employees. So, regardless of popular opinion, this is a conflict that will undoubtedly be encountered by those entering the workforce in upcoming years.

So, be ready for the question when it comes during your next interview; “Please navigate to your Facebook and Twitter pages.”


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