Always Online

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Introduction

No longer do people spend most of their day communing with nature. This new age is now filled with cell phones, high-speed Internet, and two-way messengers. Through Facebook and Smartphones people are always online, never really getting away from it all. The first computer, which showed up between the late seventies and early eighties, was so large it took up a whole room. Modern computers are much more compact fitting easily into a backpack and are very easy to carry around. According to research, approximately ninety percent of people between the ages of 5 and 17 use computers regularly, and one out of four 5 year olds use the Internet. The internet is used by 1.2 billion people worldwide. Computers have brought many things to our world that we never thought to be possible from databases, archives, music libraries, digital photos and being able to connect with people from all around the world. The dependency on computers is continually increasing and in a survey done of around one thousand people, only 15 percent said they could go a day or less without their computer and only a fifth of the people said they could go for a week. Also, 28 percent of the people surveyed spend more time on the internet and less time in face to face conversations with friends. Computer usage, especially the Internet, is quickly taking over the lives of many people and dependency is continually increasing.

Facebook

Facebook

Facebook is amongst the top-ranking social networking websites in this day and age. It was created February 2004 by a Harvard student named Mark Zuckerberg and currently has over 175 million active users worldwide. It has also increased its accessibility through mobile-based internet connection. According to ZINC Research, one-third of Canadians have the Facebook application on their cell phones, especially with smartphones such as the iPhone and BlackBerry.

Being able to put personal information on one’s profile, such as education and work information, as well as more intimate details, such as relationship status and religious beliefs, puts personal privacy into question. Although you may change settings on how much information can be revealed to certain people, it still allows people to have knowledge on the daily accounts of your social life. Additionally, other people on your friend list can “tag” personal photos of you for other people to see, which may compromise your work and academic reputation. On a positive note, it is much easier to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and family and also reunite with former classmates or friends. In either perspective, Facebook continues to thrive on the World Wide Web, mostly among young adults in high school and university, through its controversy and through word of mouth. Not only is this famous social site used for interaction, but also to increase one’s popularity. The more information which they disclose to other people the more they will be known and talked about.

Profile visitors can also keep a tab of how many friends a person has on Facebook. This trendy website is not limited to Generation Y, it is also available to a wide range of audiences, including a much older generation because it has user-friendly settings and delivers to a common human interest which is instant social communication. It appeals to many people and grabs their interest because of the simple design which eases them to the seemingly complicated components of technology.

Smartphones

BlackBerry Storm and Apple iPhone

Smartphones are phones that can do more than just call people. They can also be used for e-mail, data, applications, games and the Internet. Main examples of smartphones include the BlackBerry and iPhone.

RIM established the BlackBerry in 1999. Often referred to as the “BlackBerry Solution”, BlackBerry made headway into the market place by offering mobile email support. The BlackBerry is a PDA-style handheld with a unique operating system. It features web access, specialized applications, mobile email support, texting, cellular phone capabilities, digital camera, and dayplanner functions. The latest BlackBerry released (the Storm) is BlackBerry’s first touchscreen device and was speculated to be an “iPhone killer”. The Storm also features direct streaming video access to such media sites such as YouTube, as well as portable media (mp3). RIM released on Dec. 18, 2008 that 21 million users were registered for BlackBerry use.

The iPhone, created by Apple Inc., is a smartphone that has a touch screen with phone, e-mail, internet and music as it's main purpose. On the homescreen alone, the following icons are present: text messaging, calendar, maps, photos, iTunes store, notes, youtube, camera, calculator, clock, and apple store. These icons can be added and deleted based on the users preference and each homescreen can hold up to sixteen icons. The iPhone was released first in the United States on June 29, 2007 and is currently sold worldwide and on July 11, 2008 the new 3G iPhone was released which supports faster data speeds. Apple has currently sold over 17.4 million iPhones. The iPhone which can connect to Wi-Fi from anywhere and will automatically connect to the strongest network. The iPhone uses Safari as the web browser and according to research currently “generates 50 times more search requests than any other mobile handset.” Also, attachments received through an email can all be viewed on the iPhone.

Benefits

Ability to Stay Connected

Always Connected

Facebook and alike social networks provide a great way for people to keep in touch. They allow for users to search for friends and family with whom they may not otherwise be able to communicate through the use of a free service. One of the principal advantages of Facebook is the chat application, which allows for instant messaging between people. This application provides a highly convenient and free way of communicating with people from all over the world. However, Facebook provides many means of staying connected with people even when they are not online, such as the wall and the Facebook messaging system. iPhones and BlackBerrys also provide instant access to the internet through the use of web browsers providing instantaneous information from online sources. With the introduction of the Facebook iPhone website that was launched in August of 2007, the ability to stay connected through their phones has become even more accessible to the masses.

Rapid Response

Fast Response Through Texting

Facebook provides a quick and simple way of communicating with family and friends through various applications. Messages, wall posts and Facebook chat are all means of sending messages to people that are quickly received and easily responded to via the internet or through the use of instant phone notifications. Facebook automatically sends a text message to the user’s phone, smartphone or not, which alerts the user of a wall post, message, etc. Since there are so many updates and applications, the user can customize which updates they wish to be texted to their phone. The various smartphones that exist also help friends and family send and respond to messages at any time. However, with the growing need for instant access to email and internet, smartphones are equipped with various services for quick and effective communication. Smartphones such as the BlackBerry Bold or the Apple iPhone send emails halfway across the globe in seconds allowing for instant contact no matter where the user is located.



Highly Versatile

Online use is largely diversified with many things at your fingertips. Facebook can now be installed on the Blackberry and iPhone where you can access your wall posts, new messages, pokes, friend requests, and new photos. You can also change your Facebook status and comment on the status of others while you are on the road. On your Smartphone you can also view all your Facebook friends, post and view photo’you’re your own and others sites. Also, with a Blackberry and iPhone you can use instant messaging systems, such as MSN messenger, Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger, take photos and send them to any of your contacts or instantly post them on Facebook, receive your email message, access MySpace and YouTube, download music files, use the GPS naviagtor and surf the net. All appliances are now in one compact phone including all the electrical devices you need on a daily basis.

Portable

Over 50 years ago, communicating across borders was a difficult task. With no mobile phones and computers the size of most bedrooms, people had to resort to letters and telegrams making communication a slow and painful task. After the invention of the mobile phone, many people were overburdened with electrical devices. Most found it necessary to carry various devices such as GPS, your mobile phone, an MP3, etc. Today, all these electrical devices and more can be combined into one electrical device such as the cellular phone for easier and quicker use. The smartphones such as those of Apple and BlackBerry also provide users with a compact means of internet access and communication. Through various applications discussed earlier such as email, instant messaging and social networks, people are connected 24/7 as never before.

Drawbacks

Privacy Issues

Confidential. Or is it?

The internet is the epitome of unadulterated content which allows anyone to reveal personal information to other people through Weblog sites, personal profile sites and social network sites. Your financial information can also be accessed by people who have enough technological knowledge, like hacking or phishing, to retrieve the data stored in other people’s computers. With the convenience of online shopping and banking, the individual is also at risk of fraud and monetary theft online. With social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster, friends and even complete strangers can obtain a gateway to private information by just reading your profile. Although an individual can limit the content published online, the common idea between these social interaction sites is to break the barriers of privacy between people and to reveal intimate details of their personal lives, which in course has become a trend. The website Facebook can reveal information (exempting your contact information, i.e.: name, phone number, e-mail, address) about you to advertisers on their website so as to direct a certain demographic in buying a product which would specifically interest the individual. This has created some complaints from Facebook’s members, with the concern of privacy and solicitation.

Cyber Bullying

Cyberbullying

Along with the many facets of social interaction among youth, there is bullying, it is part of day-to-day contact among kids and has also taken part in the virtual world. Trendy websites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Nexopia are where most teenagers and some adults flock to and even make new friends, some enemies, or just receive impersonal harassment from other users. Cyber Bullying is very common because the victimizer can easily hide behind his computer screen, in anonymity, and without guilt. Although one story about this circumstance is unique where the victim knew her victimizers in real life and the bullying was brought into a violent and real situation. 16-year-old Victoria Lindsay had been brutally beaten by eight teens who were arrested March 30th, 2008. Their reason for this criminal act was because Lindsay had apparently uploaded a video on the MySpace website, trash-talking about her peers. In turn the eight teenagers took part in filming the 30-minute video of the victim being beaten to a pulp and uploading it onto MySpace and Youtube. Victoria suffered from hearing loss in one ear, and an eye problem along with a concussion. The teenagers: April Cooper, Brittini Hardcastle, Kayla Hassell, Britney Mayes, Cara Murphy, and Mercades Nichols were arrested by Lakeland, Florida authorities. The six girls along with two other males are facing charges of battery and false imprisonment, and three of the eight are facing charges of felony kidnapping for forcing Lindsay into a car and driving her to another house.


Decrease Productivity

Many people think that their multitasking abilities increase their productivity but in fact we may not be as productive as we think. Multitasking increases stress levels and after taking a break by responding to emails and Internet surfing, it takes your mind 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks. David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist states that, “Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes. Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.” Cell phones increase multitasking where people answer phones in class, while out with friends and at work. Also, web surfing now takes the place of productive work times and many employees spend work time surfing the net rather than completing tasks. Also, time with family and friends can suffer with the desire to surf the net or connect with friends over Facebook and Smartphones. The use of Facebook and Smartphones can decrease productivity and distract people from work related tasks and friendships.

Conclusion

Although Facebook and Smartphones have their advantages and disadvantages, they are highly used in this day and age as a means for effective communication. Children today spend more and more time online not only to do homework and research but also to message friends, post pictures, download music and meet new people. The Internet can easily interfere with daily life, and people can quickly spend more time on the internet that takes over their normal daily routine. Much of our socializing now does not take place face to face but rather online where conversations seem to be easier. It is imperative a healthy balance is found between the use of the computer and other activities in people’s lives.

References

(1)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iphone

(2)http://www.crn.com/retail/212100030

(3)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BlackBerry

(4)http://na.blackberry.com/eng/ataglance

(5)http://www.intomobile.com/2009/03/18/zinc-research-canadians-addicted-to-facebook-mobile.html

(6)http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Technology-Todays-Youth/127405

(7)http://www.bewebaware.ca/english/internetaddiction.aspx

(8)http://www.allacademic.com/one/www/www/index.php?cmd=www_search&offset=0&limit=5&multi_search_search_mode=publication&multi_search_publication_fulltext_mod=fulltext&textfield_submit=true&search_module=multi_search&search=Search&search_field=title_idx&fulltext_search=Internet+Dependency+Relations+and+Online+Activity+Exposure%2C+Involvement+and+Satisfaction%3A+A+Study+of+American+and+Indian+Internet+Users

(9)http://www.crunchbase.com/company/facebook

(10)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_addiction_disorder

(11)http://blogs.knoxnews.com/knx/silence/archives/2007/09/survey_the_inte.shtml

(12)http://na.blackberry.com/eng/devices/features/social/facebook.jsp

(13)http://mashable.com/2006/08/25/facebook-profile/

(14)http://www.career-intelligence.com/management/Multitasking_Madness_Decreases_Productivity.asp

(15)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook#Features

(16)http://www.handheldmedicine.ca/connectivity/smartphones.htm

(17)http://blog.aafromaa.com/2007/06/summary-of-advantages-of-facebook.html

(18)http://www.facebook.com/terms.php