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The Dark Side of Media and Technology

A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy

Edited By Edward Downs

The Dark Side of Media and Technology: A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy is Herculean in its effort to survey for landmines in a rapidly changing media landscape. The book identifies four dark outcomes related to media and technology use in the 21st century, and balances the dark side with four points of light that are the keys to taking ownership of a media- and technology-saturated world. The text contains an impressive list of multi-disciplinary experts and cutting-edge researchers who approach 25 separate dark side issues with concise, highly readable chapters, replete with unique recommendations for navigating our mediated present and future.

The Dark Side of Media and Technology is grounded in theory and current research, but possesses an appeal similar to a page-turning dystopian novel; as a result, this volume should be of interest to scholars, students, and curious lay-readers alike. It should be the "go-to" text for anyone who is interested in learning what the research says about how we use media and technology, as well as how media and technology use us.

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Chapter Eleven: The Dark Side of Social Networking Sites (Jesse Fox / Guanjin Zhang / Jessica Frampton)


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The Dark Side of Social Networking Sites


Social networking sites (SNSs) have become popular because they provide quick and easy access to social connections, entertainment, and news. Research has identified a number of benefits associated with SNS use, including friendship maintenance, social capital generation, and identity development (see reviews by Wilson, Gosling, & Graham, 2012, and Zhang & Leung, 2015). Users and researchers alike, however, tend to overlook the dark side of SNSs. Users can present themselves in a way that is more idealized than the true self or be completely deceptive. These idealized disclosures can lead to negative effects for the audience, including negative social comparisons, envy, loneliness, and depression. Posters may also have negative experiences as their content can result in negative feedback posted by other users, conflict, or even terminated relationships. These negative outcomes may be far-reaching given the audience on an SNS can include diverse groups of friends, family, co-workers, and even the general public.

This chapter will explain why SNSs are different from offline contexts and other online environments. It will then discuss existing research about negative psychological and social experiences tied to SNSs and clarify how the features of SNSs may exacerbate these issues. Finally, it will provide some insight on how users can mitigate or avoid some of these dark side phenomena while still capitalizing on the social benefits of SNSs....

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