Friday, August 5, 2011

Creativity comes from being connected

Last year we had two visits to our school from Aric Sigman who told students, teachers and parents that the increasing use of technology and social software is damaging students' minds and undermining learning.  He talked about the consequences of increasing social isolation from spending too much time socialising with online friends and not spending enough time with "real" ones.  How pleased I was to see the evidence presented in the Pew Research Centre report today which totally contradict his theories.
  • 59% of internet users use social media.  Over half of all social network site users are over the age of 35. 
  • Facebook dominates social networking - 92% of users are on it.
  • Facebook users have more close relationships and report more social support that others. The average Facebook user has 229 friends which include people from high school and college, immediate and extended family, coworkers, people from voluntary groups and neighbours.  Facebook seems to support intimacy, rather than undermine it.  Users of LinkedIn and Twitter have larger networks than Facebook users (this appears to be related to them being more educated). Mobile phone and IM users also have larger social networks.  There is no evidence of a relationship between social media/technology use and loneliness, and education is one of the strongest predictors of having more close social ties.
  • Only 7% of Facebook friends are people users have never met in person and only 3% are people who have met only one time.  The remainder are social ties, some of which are dormant but are still important sources of information.
  • There is a relationship between the use of social networks and the ability to explore multiple points of view - particularly marked in the case of MySpace users.
Being connected, it seems, has many more advantages than disadvantages, not least in the field of creativity as Steven Johnson argues in this RSA Animate video:

Photo Credit:  Get Connected by Paco Paco AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike 

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