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8.1 Social networking sites and technologies



Unit 8.1 Social networking sites and technologies
Unit 8.2 Impact of technology

image By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the impact that social media has had on the community.
  • Identify and list the benefits and harm of technology.
  • Explain what information overload is.
  • Describe the impact of virtual reality.


The fastest way to advertise anything is to upload it on social sites. Social media is faster in conveying the news or information than any other media say radio, television or newspapers. Also, government sites as well as private sites are available for filing documents. Ticket booking has become very serviceable to the customers, may it be for a movie show, a hotel in a far town or for an overseas travel trip.

Through many years, social media has helped people stay in contact with their distant friends, relatives and other influential people in their lives, which would have otherwise been impossible. Hence social media proves to be an excellent platform to promote and facilitate innumerable things.

Figure 8.1:We rely heavily on technology in modern times

8.1 Social networking sites and technologies

Modern technology and the internet have made it easier than ever to meet new people by using social networking sites. A social networking website is an online platform that allows users to create a digital profile of themselves; including their likes, dislikes, personal information and much more. This profile is then used to build a network of friends with whom the user can communicate and share information.

  • Facebook: This is the most popular social networking site in the world. Facebook allows the user to create a profile that can be used to upload photos and videos, send messages, and keep in touch with friends and family.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a social media and news platform that allows users to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions with other users, in 280 characters or less.
  • Instagram: Instagram is a social network that allows users to share photos and videos with other users.
  • YouTube: YouTube is a video-sharing platform that allows users to upload and view videos over the internet.
  • GoFundMe: GoFundMe is a social networking site that allows users to donate money (crowdfund) towards a cause or project.
  • WhatsApp: WhatsApp is a messaging app for smartphones where messages, images, audio and video can be sent using the internet.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a professional networking site that is used to display your business or professional profile. It can be used to apply for jobs.
Figure 8.2: Examples of social networking sites


There can be little doubt that social networking sites have changed the way in which we interact with each other. From Facebook to Instagram, social networking sites allow users to find and connect with people from around the world, based on your personal information and interests. But how safe is that information?

Something to know

Since the Cambridge Analytica incident, Facebook has taken steps to improve its security to protect its users’ information.

Something to know

Every time you click on a website, download a file, or update your Facebook status, you are busy creating a trail of virtual data that makes up your digital footprint.


Social media has changed the way in which we make friends, talk to each other and obtain news. Let’s take a look at some of the additional positive effects of social media:

  • It can be used for education: Over the last few years, YouTube has become a platform where people can find educational videos on a variety of subjects. This can include something as simple as how to cook a steak; to more complicated subjects, such as Mathematics and Science.
  • It can be used to raise awareness: Sites like Facebook and Twitter have made it easier than ever for people to raise awareness around a special cause. This can include creating a support group for people suffering from cancer; to raising awareness of how to treat people with disabilities.
  • It encourages creativity: Using little creativity, social networking sites, such as YouTube and Instagram, have allowed users to create a professional career out of social media. This includes people making and uploading videos to YouTube, as well as Instagram models.
  • It can be used to increase your visibility: Social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, allow users to create a professional profile that can be viewed by potential employers. The site allows the employer to see your educational information, professional working experience, as well as your interests and achievements. Users can also upload their CVs and apply for job vacancies. Your online presence is also known as your digital footprint. Websites collect information as you use them, with or without the knowledge of the user. All the traces you leave online by way of your web activities make up your cyber profile.
  • It can be used to build a community: Social networking sites allow users to find and create communities of people with similar interests, religious views, or nationalities.
  • It can be used to help a cause: Raising funds to start a business, to help someone, or to simply try to get an education, has never been easier. Crowdfunding sites, such as GoFundMe, allow users to create a profile explaining their situation and why they are in need of funds. This then allows other users to donate money towards the project of their choice. Crowdfunding is a way of raising funds through customers, family, friends and investors online.


As more people start depending on the internet and social media for their news and information, it is important to understand that what you put on the internet, might come back to haunt you.

Let’s take a look at some of the following negative effects of social media:

  • It can create a false sense of relationships: More and more people are building online relationships as it is much easier for them to meet and chat with someone over the phone or computer, than meeting in person. This can lead to a decrease in the number of real-life relationships, which can cause people to suffer from isolation and depression.
  • It can affect your privacy: Social networking sites encourage users to share information about their personal lives, what they like and dislike, as well as where they live. This information can then be used by people with malicious intent, such as with the Facebook Cambridge Analytica case.
  • It can affect your productivity: Social media sites, such as Facebook, contain information and entertainment that is tailored towards the likes and hobbies of users. This can cause users to spend a lot of time browsing the site for things that they find interesting.
  • It can lead to peer pressure: One thing that has always been true is that humans like to be part of a group. Social media sites allow users to view the thoughts and opinions of the people in their friends’ group. This could lead to users changing their opinions on certain topics due to not wanting to be left out.
  • It can affect your actions: People tend to act differently on the internet than in real life. Some people are more confident while others might take advantage of the anonymity of the internet to bully and ridicule someone.
  • It can lead to the distribution of fake news. Fake news is news, stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinforming or deceiving readers. Usually, these stories are created to either influence people’s views, push a political agenda or cause confusion and can often be a profitable business for online publishers. Fake news stories can deceive people by looking like trusted websites.

image Activity 8.1

1.Write down the correct answer for each of the following questions.

a.Which of the following is NOT a social networking site?





b.Which of the following is a business networking site?





c.Which of the following social network platforms can be used to obtain an income?





image Activity 8.1

2. Choose a term or concept from Column B that matches the description in Column A. Write only the letter next to the question number.


3. Answer the following questions:

a.Discuss the positive and negative aspects of social networking. Do you think that the good outweighs the bad?

b.Define the term “crowdfunding”.

c.Define “anonymity” and explain why it can have a negative effect on online communication.

8.2 Impact of technology

In the introduction to this chapter, we took a look at how technology has influenced our daily lives. Smartphones help us to wake up in the morning, communicate with friends and family, and navigate our way around the world. Computers, on the other hand, can be used for everything; from the car’s navigation system to entertainment. To better illustrate this, in this section we will be taking a closer look at some of the positive and negative effects that technology has had on society.

Figure 8.3: Technology in our lives today


We use technology for just about everything; including communication, travel, entertainment and education. Here are some additional ways in which technology has improved our lives:

  • Telecommuting (e-commuting): Telecommuting or teleworking is a work arrangement made between the employee and the employer. The arrangement allows the employee to work from home, or from a location that is close to the employee’s home by using computers, telephones and the internet. Telecommuting has been found to be advantageous to employers, saving them office space and improving worker morale saving travel costs and allowing a more flexible work schedule.
  • Improved healthcare: There are many ways in which technology has improved our healthcare system. This includes the development of new medicine, new treatments and detection techniques, as well as the digitalisation of health records.
  • Enhances our ability to fight crime: Technology not only helps us to fight; it also prevents crime. Examples of this include cameras, drones, facial recognition, online databases and metal detectors.
  • Increased productivity: Regardless of the task you are doing, computers can make you more effective at it. For example, you can research any topic on the internet in less than an hour. Twenty years ago, you needed to travel to a library and then spend hours looking through books without knowing if any of the books would help you.
  • Making the impossible, possible: Computers can complete tasks that are impossible or incredibly time consuming for humans to do. For example, in 1624, Henry Briggs published a book containing the logarithms for 35 000 numbers, which took him years to calculate. Today, a person with a computer could do the same work in less than five minutes.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence is important because it makes life much easier for everyone. The so-called weak artificial intelligences, such as the GPS in your car and the operating system assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Cortana, are all designed to make simple things like searching for something online or navigating your way through an unknown street much easier. On the other hand, strong artificial intelligences, such as intelligent robots, are used in space exploration programs, performing tasks that would be otherwise impossible to undertake by humans by themselves. They are also applied in the medical field to perform complex surgeries that would be impossible or extremely difficult for humans to successfully complete.
  • Machine learning: The concept of machine learning allows computers to take in large amounts of data, process it, and teach themselves new skills using that input. Used for climate change modelling, autonomous vehicles, medical research and risk assessments. The concept of machine learning allows computers to take in large amounts of data, process it, and teach themselves new skills using that input.
  • Block chain: Known as the backbone technology behind Bitcoin, is one of the current trends on the market. Due to the decentralized networks, blockchain does not have a central point of failure and is better able to withstand malicious attacks, users can trust that transactions will be executed exactly as they want and transactions can be processed 24/7.


Technology has improved productivity, helped scientists to cure diseases, assisted engineers to design and construct fantastic new structures, and it has connected people from across the world. However, it is important to not be blinded by the advantages and ignore the disadvantages. Let’s take a look at some examples of how technology might harm society:

  • Working environment: Face-to-face meetings have often given way to video conferences, mailrooms to email inboxes, and typewriters and carbon paper to word processors. Technology has also allowed a substantial portion of work—and the workforce—to move beyond the confines of a traditional office.2 It is common for digitally connected professionals to perform some of their work in cafés or shops, at home, even lying by the pool while on ‘vacation’.
  • Environmental problems: The eternal race between companies to improve and gain a competitive advantage over others, does unfortunately negatively affect the environment too. Examples of this include e-waste, the depletion of natural resources and increased pollution.
  • Social effects: Computers and the internet have increased our ability to communicate with people around the world, but by doing so, they have also decreased our personal and social interactions. An example of this can be seen when looking at the Hikikomori people in Japan. These reclusive people have withdrawn from society and use computers and the internet to isolate themselves to their homes.
  • Crime and abuse: Computers give anyone connected to the internet, access to an incredible amount of information. Usually, people use this information to keep up to date with current events, improve their existing skills, or learn new skills; however, there are some that use the information to commit terrible deeds. Examples of this include cyberbullying, online stalking and computer fraud.
  • Lack of upskilling: as businesses are getting digitised at a faster rate, upskilling employees regularly has become a major factor. Most employees are concerned that their skills are either already outmoded or will soon become so.


Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you need to decide on a matter, but you just cannot make up your mind? It could be that you are suffering from information overload. Information overload is a term used to describe a situation where there is just too much information available for your brain to process. In short, the hard drive is full, but you are attempting to copy more data to the drive.

Figure 8.4: Information overload

Information overload is caused from our brains’ limited capability when it comes to processing information, as well as the massive amount of information it is subjected to each day. In order to help you deal with this problem, let’s take a look at some tips on how to deal with information overload.


One of the most exciting and interesting advances of technology, is virtual or augmented reality. Virtual reality is a type of output device that uses a specially designed headset to fully immerse the user in a high-quality 3D virtual world, using both sight and sound.

What sets virtual reality apart from other 3D viewing devices is that it is not limited to just normal 3D images. The headset functions to adjust your vision, depending on where you look in real life, changing the picture you see as you look at different things.

This gives the device a much more immersive feeling. Due to this, there is a high level of concern about the potential negative effects that virtual reality might have on the user.

Let’s take a look at some of the potential negative effects of virtual reality:

  • Addiction: The immersive feeling of virtual reality might cause some users to turn their back on the real world.
  • Cybersickness: This is a form of motion sickness that is caused due to using virtual reality technology.
  • Physical injuries: Prolonged use of virtual reality can lead to eye strain and muscle fatigue.
  • Virtual reality devices can be used for a variety of things; including training simulations and games.
Figure 8.5: Using virtual reality goggles

Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality does not fully immerse the user in a 3D virtual world instead, it adds digital elements to the real world. These elements can be viewed and interacted with by making use of a camera or smartphone. The most well-known example of augmented reality can be seen when looking at the super popular mobile game, “Pokemon GO”. In this game, players use their smartphones in order to find and catch Pokemon in the real world. The game uses the phone’s GPS to locate and move each player’s virtual character on the game’s version on Google Maps.

image Activity 8.2

1.Answer the following questions:

a.What is a digital footprint and how can the average user obtain one?

b.When is a person described as a Hikikomori?

c.Are there any benefits to using e-commuting? If so, what are they?

d.Discuss three positive and three negative effects that technology has had on modern society.



Ntuli has been given a big project that needs to be completed within a few days. This project has left him stressed, because he has to do a lot of research. After doing his research, Ntuli found that he had approximately 326 pages worth of research to go through.

1.1What could Ntuli suffer from as a result of this project? (1)

1.2What four things can Ntuli do to prevent or reduce this problem? (4)

1.3When Ntuli completes his school project, he is very proud of it. He decides he wants to share it online so that he can get people’s opinions of his work. What could he use to do this? (2)

1.4Mention four things that Ntuli should be cautious of when sharing his project online. (4)



Copy and complete the following table. Which of the statements in the table are negative side effects of social media, technology and virtual reality?


TOTAL: [21]