It is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the presence of social media and the internet has heavily impacted society. This technological innovation has left footprints on areas such as communication, interaction, literacy, privacy and most of all, identity. This increasing reliance on social media has led to the contentious issue of whether it has changed society for the better or worse. Some positives for social media as stated by Landry(2014) are that is has allowed for greater and immediate access to information, the ease of connectivity to others and creating an arena for globalised voices. Landry (2014) balances this by commenting on the increased narcissism of society due to things such as ‘selfies’ which manifests on the internet and that the ability to remain anonymous can allow for devious activity such as trolling and hacking which lead to ethical issues around privacy invasion and bullying.
As evident in the collated research done by Statistica in 2014, the graph shows that worldwide, the age group of 16-24 equally dominate the social media user category. This is notable as it is most commonly these years whereby one’s identity and sense of self are achieved.
Teens engage with networked publics for the same reasons they have always relished publics; they want to be a part of the broader world by connecting with other people and having the freedom of mobility. – Boyd (2014)
Boyd (2014) states that “teens are passionate about finding their place in society” and that social media platforms are the tools they are utilising. I conducted a survey online of 20 participants to help determine whether the use of social media by students whilst on the University of Wollongong campus at all effects their sense of place, identity and most of all, belonging. Here is the data found:
From this primary research, it shows overall that the merging of the specific physical place of UOW and online social media space hardly impacts a UOW student’s sense of belonging whilst on campus. This can be paralleled to the concept of the networked home – a place which is a mecca for communication due to accessibility on multiple devices but it does not dictate how. A person’s home does not define them but rather is a reflection of them and this is evidently the same for the UOW campus. The campus is used to facilitate communication but this does not necessarily translate into students associating this with belonging to place.