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Why are young people so valuable to research on how global popular media affect society? Essay Example

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    Sociology
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    Article
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    Undergraduate
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Reasons why young people so valuable to research on how global popular media affects the society

Table of contents

iiiExecutive summary

1Introduction

1Research question, aims and objectives

3Literature review

6Research findings

11Discussion

11Conclusion

References 13

Executive summary

This research seeks to establish different ways in which young people are useful in helping researchers understand the effects of global popular media or social media on the society in general. The research was carried out based on qualitative secondary data from academic sources that are relevant to the subject under investigation. Findings of studies on the subject were critically analysed and the results interpreted to identify specific ways in which young people are valuable in helping researchers understand the effects of social media on the society.

From the analysis of findings of different studies, it can be seen that the importance of young people in understanding how social media affects the society lies in their extensive use of different types of social media. By carefully studying how the youth are affected by social media, it is possible to gain insights into how the same effects can influence the entire society. Also, since social media affects various aspects of the lives of young people, it is possible to extrapolate these findings to the larger society.

Findings of the study will be important in several ways. To start with, understanding the link between the youth and the effects of social media on the entire society will be important to the academia in terms of shaping current and future research on the subject. More importantly though, the findings of the research will not only inform public debate but also shape it in terms of discussing whether there really exists a difference in the way different population groups in the society are affected by the media in general and social media in particular.

Introduction

This research seeks to establish various reasons that make young people very valuable to different forms of research on the effects of the global popular media on the society. The research is based on a critical evaluation of the findings of different studies on the value of young people in understanding the general effect of the popular global media on the society. In order to achieve this objective, the research is divided into several sections as follows. In the first section, the research questions, objectives and the importance of the research are presented. This is followed by a brief review of academic literature about the subject. The literature review is based on an evaluation of different findings that are of relevance to the subject of research as well as identification of specific gaps in the existing knowledge on the subject. The third section contains information about the methodologies used in carrying out the research. In the fourth section, a clear and comprehensive summary of the findings of the research is presented. The findings are a summary of the data gathered through the methods used in carrying out the research. This section is followed by a comprehensive discussion on the findings of the research. Information about different ways in which findings of the research can be utilised and opportunities for further research are presented in this section.

Research question, aims and objectives

The following is the research question that is used in the study.

  1. In what ways are young people important in understanding the effect of social media on the society?

From the research question, it can be seen that the overall aim of the study is to determine different ways in which young people are significant in understanding the effect of social media on the society. In order for this aim to be realised, the following objectives were used.

  1. To outline different ways in which the social media affects the society in general.

  2. To analyse the relationship between young people and the effects of the social media on the society.

There are several reasons that make it necessary for the aims and objectives of this research to be achieved. A study on the reasons that make young people so valuable to research on how global media affects society is important in several ways. To begin with, social media is one of the key pillars of the current society. Its popularity and extensive usage has undergone tremendous changes and development since its introduction back in the 1990s (van Dijck 2013, p. 5). In the current society that is driven by forces of globalisation, the use of social networking sites has continued to grow not only among the young population of the world operating within informal settings but also the adults within formal settings. This is because the different platforms offered by social networks are critical in helping all members of the community initiate and participate in different activities (Ife 2013, p. 194).

It is from this perspective that the need to understand how the growth in the use of social media in the world affects the society in general. This is a wide subject that has attracted research that has focused on different ways in which social media influences the development of various aspects of human life in the society. Therefore, since many of the issues that are associated with social media primarily affect the young people in the world, it then follows that understanding their interaction with social media is an integral part of understanding how the entire society is affected by the same phenomenon. Therein lies the importance of this research, which addresses the broad subject of the significance of young people in understanding the effect of social media on the society.

Literature review

The academic context of the research can be understood in terms of general research that has been carried on the subject of the effects of social media on different aspects of the society. In general, research has focused on evaluating different ways in which the media in general and social media in particular affect social, behavioural and cultural aspects of the lives of individuals in the society. One such study is the one carried out by the American Psychological Society (2013, p. 2), in which it is pointed out that the effects of the media on the general population have a basis in different psychological theories and produce either positive or negative effects on individuals. It is further pointed out that five key aspects of the media in general are important in affecting the behaviour of individuals in the society: advertising, representations of diversity, portrayal of violence, crime and mental illness (American Psychological Society 2013, p. 3). These effects can be seen in relation to the different categories of effects of mass media on the society which include the following: effects that arise from the content, effects that are caused by behavioural changes, those that cause alteration and lastly, effects that happen either at the micro or macro level of the society (Sparks 2013, p. 67).

The findings from the study by the American Psychological Society correspond with earlier studies conducted to determine the effect that mass media has on the society in general. For instance, according to a study conducted by McGuire (1986, cited by Perse 2008, p. 2), the mass media has a wide range of effects on the population. These effects range from influencing political propaganda to shaping the behaviours and characters of individuals through exposure to crime, violence and other types of content. In a similar study, Berger (2012, p. 11) observes that the effect of the media on the society can be understood in terms of an ever increasing trend among the young people in the society to spend much of their time on one of the many forms of media and the influence that this exposure to content has on their behaviour.

Although early research was based on the mass media in general, recent research has focused on specifically evaluating how the social media affects different aspects of human life in the society. This kind of research has varied in terms of the effects of social media on different aspects of the society as well as in terms of the specific groups of individuals in the society on which attention has been given. For example, Teruelle (2012, p. 203) evaluated the role of social media technologies in sparking the interests of young people in politics and influencing them into actual participation. Apart from politics, the effect of social media on the society has been evaluated with reference to education. Many studies have sought to establish different ways in which social media technologies can either be used to enhance the learning process or its effect on the academic performance of students (Bute 2013, p. 77; Rennie & Morrison 2013, p. 4).

From the brief review of literature, several things can be pointed out. First, it can be seen that there has been a lot of research that has been carried out on different ways in which social media affects the society. These studies have varied in terms of the specific aspects of social life that have been examined, different types of social media and various groups of individuals within the population upon whose lives the effects of social media have been evaluated. Although this is the case, there still remains room for further research on specific ways in which members of the young population are important in understanding how social media affects the society. It is based on this observation that this research seeks to establish the link between young people in the society and the effects of the social media on the society in general.

This research on different ways in which young people are valuable in understanding the effect of social media on the society is based on qualitative secondary data. The findings of the research are based on a critical review of academic literature that is relevant to the subject under investigation. After formulating the objectives of the research, a comprehensive examination of the findings of academic studies on the subject of the impact of social media on the society was carried out. In choosing the academic sources to be used in the research, care was taken to ensure that the sources are not only relevant to the subject but also recent.

In general, analysis of the secondary academic sources was carried out using three key approaches. In the first approach, a brief evaluation of literature to identify the theoretical background of the study was carried out. The results of this approach formed the brief review of literature presented in the research. In the second approach, analysis of the findings was done with the aim of identifying several ways in which social media affects the society. This formed the basis for understanding the significance of young people in this kind of research by pointing out different ways in which the nature of the research and its findings are related to them. Lastly, analysis of the qualitative secondary data was carried out to establish different ways in which young people are significant for understanding the overall effects of social media on the society. This was done by establishing different ways in which social media affects them as well as the society at large. Finally, the findings of the analysis were presented and their relevance to both the public and the body of knowledge discussed.

Research findings

From the findings of different studies, there are several reasons that make young people valuable to research on how global popular media affects society. The reasons can be categorised into three broad classes: those that arise from their extensive usage of the social media, those that are associated with the impact of the media on the young people and lastly, those that arise from the different behavioural patterns that young people exhibit when using social media.

To begin with, the importance of the youth in research about the impact of the global popular media on the society can be understood in terms of the various uses that young people put the internet into. There has been a lot of research on various ways in which young people, predominantly the youth, use the internet in their daily lives. One of the common uses of global popular media among the young population across the world has been for socialisation with peers (Tripathi & Khurana 2012, n.pag). Young people use various forms of online social networking sites as the primary way of interacting with their peers. This interaction, which takes the form of virtual online groups on online social networking sites, takes place in different forms such as sharing tastes and preferences on music and is based on different forms of gratification for users (Chiang 2013, p. 857).

In a study, Ito et al. (2008, p. 13) identified three main ways in which the youth use global popular media: for communication, dating and social interaction. It is observed that apart from the traditional social interaction among themselves, young people use popular global media for communication purposes. Through different platforms provided by both online and offline social networking sites, young people are able to communicate with their friends, families and members of the entire society at large. Also, the privacy and technological abilities of such media platforms allow young people to use them as primary tools of communication when initiating romantic relationships (Tripathi & Khurana 2012, n.pag). In a study to evaluate different reasons for use of Twitter and other social networking sites among the young population, Rose and Morstyn (2013, p. 20) identified several key reasons that drive the usage of new media among the participants. From the need to communicate with peers, access information and express personal ideas, young people use social media to not only initiate new relationships but also build existing ones (Rose & Morstyn 2013, p. 23).

There are several reasons arising from different ways in which young people use such media that make them valuable to research about the impact of popular global social networking sites on the society. To begin with, their extensive and diverse usage of such media in their day-to-day interactions is an important aspect that can be used to understand the general impact of popular global media on the society. When seen within this context, it can be deduced that their usage of the media is representative of what the entire society does. Therefore, when analysing how the entire society is affected by the social media, trends in the usage of the media among the young population are instructive.

Another reason that makes young people valuable to research about the effects of global popular media on the society can be understood in terms of different ways in which such media affects the youth themselves. Studies on the general effect of the global popular media on the society can be understood by evaluating the impact of these media forms on the youth in general. There have been several studies that have been carried out to determine the impact of the new media forms on the society in general. What is important though is the fact many of these studies have been based on how the social media influences young persons in particular. For instance, Bourne (2008, p. 49) states that social media or the internet has an important impact on the young population in terms of shaping their identities. Through interaction with persons from different cultural backgrounds, the cultural perspectives and personal identities of young people in the world undergo fundamental changes (Bourne 2008, p. 51). In a similar study, it is observed that social media influences the process of identity formation among the youth in three major ways: fostering engagement, influencing the process of individualisation and creating room for re-engagement with the society at large (Wyn & Cuervo 2005, p. 23). It then follows that when understanding different ways in which the society is affected by social media, the role of the youth as primary users of social media as well as those that are primarily affected by its usage is important.

Many of the impacts of social media on the society can be understood by evaluating how children and young people in the society respond to and are affected by the effects of the media. From the review of literature on this subject, it can be seen that a number of researchers recognise this relationship and as a result, have based their studies on the different ways in which the new media affect the society or how young people in the society respond to changes occasioned by the advent of new forms of communication. For example, in a study to evaluate the impact that social media has on the workplace, Bennett et al. (2010, p. 144) identified the attractiveness of such media to relatively young workers as being the major driving force for the popularity of its usage in the workplace. Through its ability to enhance collaboration and participation, social media has had a general positive impact on the workplace in the form of enhancing productivity, collaboration and decision making (Bennett et al. 2010, p. 145). In the same vein, in a study to determine the use of social media among Polish immigrants in Ireland, Komito and Bates (2009, p. 235) noted that the usage of the social media is generally restricted to the young population of immigrants who are aged between 25 and 44 years.

There have been several studies which, in evaluating how the social media in general has affected the society, base their findings on data collected from young people. This approach has been necessitated by the fact that the issues under investigation are primarily relevant to young people in the society. One example has been seen in the many studies that have been carried out to examine the effect of social media on education in general. For instance, although there has been little evidence to link increased use of social networking sites and a decline in academic performance, studies generally indicate that social media can be used to enhance non-formal learning among the users (Ahn 2011, p. 1442).

From the findings of these studies, it can be seen that the impact of the social media on the society in terms of workplace relations can be understood by evaluating how young workers interact with each other and use the different platforms to enhance their overall productivity at the place of work. Also, when attempting to understand how social media affects the process of integration among immigrants, the effect of this phenomenon on the young population has remained instructive. This therefore means that young people are valuable to research about the effects of social media on the society in general.

The third reason that explains the value of young people to research on how the global popular media affects the society can be understood in terms of the different behavioural patterns that are exhibited by young people when using social media. Findings from such studies are important in that they form the basis upon which the general effects of the social media on the society can be established. From the review of academic literature, it can be seen that many studies that have been carried out to establish how the society interacts with social media have been based on the youth. The extensive nature of usage of social media among the youth coupled with their ability to influence the functionality and general direction of usage of social networking sites makes them an invaluable group in understanding the general behavioural patterns of social media usage in the society (Mesch 2009, p. 51). This extensive effect of social media on the youthful generation shapes the general values and norms of the society.

In addition to this, young people are important in helping researchers fully understand how social media affects cultural values across different nations in the society. In general, studies have indicated that extensive use of social media as the primary tool of communication and interaction among people from different cultures has a direct effect on cultural development. For instance, increased use of social networking sites has provided a means by which individuals share different cultural values through cultural representation or misrepresentation (Grincheva 2013, p. 41). Additionally, young people are recognised as the group upon which social media has had the greatest influence. This influence is seen on different cultural values that have been shared among the youth who use social media. Through the use of social networking sites, globalisation and cultural exchange has had an influence on all values of the lives of young people across the world (Grixti 2006, p. 106). It therefore follows that when studying the effects of the new media on cultural exchanges in the society, young people across the world, who have been greatly influenced by the cultural exchanges that arise from use of new media, are invaluable sources of insight on the phenomenon. By understanding how their cultural values change as a result of interacting with each other through social networking sites, the overall effect of the new media on social and cultural values of the society can be easily understood.

Discussion

From the findings of the research, it can be seen that there are several ways in which young people are valuable to research on how popular media affects society. This is seen in three main ways. First, the behaviour that young people exhibit when using social media is important in helping researchers understand the general effect of social media on behavioural patterns on the society. Second, that the social media has profound effects on young people in the society as compared to the entire general population is important in understanding the general effect of social media on the society. This is because the youth do not only make the largest user group for social media but also play a key role in shaping the nature and use of the media in the society. Third, the different uses that the youth put social media to are important in gaining insights about how social media affects the society in general. From education to entertainment purposes, the different functions that young people use the social media for are important in helping researchers understand how the sites affect members of the society at large.

There are several ways in which the findings of the research affect the industry as well as public knowledge about the effects of social media on the society. Notably, findings about the link between the effects of the social media on the young population and the society in general will be useful in shaping public opinion about the effects of social media on the society as a whole. Although there have been a number of studies that have sought to prove the existence of gaps in the usage of social media among different categories of the population, knowledge about the important link and role that the young population plays in this relationship will be useful in shaping public knowledge and debate.

Conclusion

In this research, the different ways in which young people are valuable in understanding the effect of social media on the society have been presented. From the findings of the analysis, it can be seen that the important ways in which young people are valuable in understanding the effects of social media on the society can be understood in terms of three broad categories: (1) those that arise from their extensive usage of the social media; (2) those which are associated with the impact of the media on the young people; and (3) those that arise from the different behavioural patterns that young people exhibit when using social media. By understanding how social media affects young people, researchers are able to gain insights into how the media affects the society in general. This is because of the close relationship that young persons have with the social media on one hand and their integral place in the society on the other.

References

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