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Description: Perhaps you have heard about concerns about ways in which Facebook and other social media sites can potentially contribute to social isolation (as they do not involve “real social face-to-face connections”). While there IS research supporting this concern can you think of situations and ways in which Facebook could, in fact, have exactly the opposite effect and support or even build communities? Think about personal or larger societal disasters. Once you have constructed a hypothesis or two have a read through the article linked below and see what research with real Facebook data suggests.

Source: Facebook can create psychological safety nets during crises, Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today.

Date: April 29, 2017

Photo Credit:  Anikei/Shutterstock

Links:  Article Link — https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201704/facebook-can-create-psychological-safety-nets-during-crises

So how did your hypotheses hold up? It is interesting and important to be open to considering the ways in which things like Facebook use and other social media use may vary depending upon the situations and circumstances of the people and social groups who use them. These can vary for personal reasons, larger social reasons and even for developmental reasons (Facebook use patterns, for example, shift when people enter university or other post-secondary educational environments). We also need to remain open to ways in which platforms such as Facebook can (as in the case of bereavement) provide a way for people and for communities to grieve and to heal from loss.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways in which platforms like Facebook can contribute to social isolation?
  2. What are some of the ways in which platforms like Facebook can contribute positively to social and personal wellbeing?
  3. What sorts of steps ought psychologists consider thinking about or taking in relation to their research planning around emerging social trends and platforms such a Facebook?

References (Read Further):

William R. Hobbs, Moira K. Burke. Connective recovery in social networks after the death of a friend. Nature Human Behaviour, 2017; 1: 0092 DOI:10.1038/s41562-017-0092

Douglas Paton, Melanie Irons. Communication, Sense of Community, and Disaster Recovery: A Facebook Case Study. Frontiers in Communication, 2016; 1  http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fcomm.2016.00004/full

Brian A. Primack, Ariel Shensa, Jaime E. Sidani, Erin O. Whaite, Liu yi Lin, Daniel Rosen, Jason B. Colditz, Ana Radovic, Elizabeth Miller. Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2017;  http://www.grea.ch/sites/default/files/social_media_art.pdf

Roberts, D. F., & Foehr, U. G. (2008). Trends in media use. The future of children, 18(1), 11-37. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ795858.pdf

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