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By Gus Bode

Social networking has changed how people communicate online and in public. Networks such as Facebook have been criticized for causing people to regularly use informal language and reduce their public communication skills.

But is it always Facebook’s fault? Some people say yes and others say no.

Many use informal language on a daily basis through social media and texting, which Thomas Leverett said may not be a bad thing.

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Leverett, a professor from the Center for English as a Second Language, said the relationship between the use of social media and a person’s communication skills is complicated, therefore it’s not fair to say one hinders the other.

“Now you can’t say that informal writing is going to ruin formal writing any more than informal speaking ruined formal speaking. It didn’t,” Leverett said. “We still can speak formally if we wanted to; we can and we do.”

Leverett said students actually read and write more than before, but tend to use informal English.

He said people used language more appropriately 20 years ago when communication was dictated by the speaker’s environment, but even then the use of informal language in writing was seldom.

Leverett said social media can be a distraction, but individuals are responsible for allowing that to happen.

“The mere fact that you’re speaking to your friend doesn’t prevent you from doing your homework,” Leverett said.

Technology such as smart phones also prevent students from obtaining information themselves, which he said is a hindrance to education.

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“But if you ask your friend what the article says and he tells you — and you don’t have to read the article — then in a sense, it prevented you from reading the article because you’re getting the information in a different way,” he said.

Leverett said this method of learning can undermine formal education.

Catherine Bitzer, a freshman studying elementary education, said Facebook negatively affects future generations.

“I think people sometimes become more socially awkward because they are so used to talking to people through the Internet,” Bitzer said.

Nate Miranda, a junior studying criminal justice and political science, also said Facebook and social media can be harmful.

He said social networks take away from time spent with others because communication is through the Internet and not often in person.

Miranda said this causes people to lose social skills such as how to maturely handle an argument. He said an argument through the Internet is just someone typing words.

“You lose the ability to be able to look somebody in the eye and to settle the situation like a mature person,” he said.

Though some people view social networks negatively, Leverett said it’s about balance. He said you should limit time spent doing anything, including time on the web.

“Social media can take all our time and prevent us from developing normally in the social world,” Leverett said.

 

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