"Now a days,, very few people use landline phones for sharing, so when you talk about things on online chat and emails, what you really talking about is full extent of human communication "

The world is getting modernized and revolutionized due to dynamic use of social media tools like Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Myspace, Skype, Snapchat for communicating and interacting within few seconds. Social media refers to the means   of establishing connections among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. The reason, why social media tools are changing our lives are its advantages of online sharing of knowledge and information among the different groups of people from different regions of the world. This online sharing of information also promotes the increase in the communication skills among the people especially among the learners/students of educational institutions. Online tools and technology has not only mediated communication in countless ways, but that the very ways we communicate and even the ways we talk and think about communication are changing as a result. Social media have the potential to fundamentally change our lifestyle and ways of thinking, both on an interpersonal and a community level.

The main benefits of social media are –

Sharing of ideas: Social networking sites allow users to share their thoughts, happenings, accomplishments, failures, events and interests within their individual networks. Web based social networking services make it possible to connect people who share interests and activities across political, economic and geographical borders.

Tool of communication: Social networks are increasingly being used by teachers and learners as a communication tool. Teachers create chat rooms, forums and groups to extend classroom discussion to posting assignments, tests and quizzes, to assisting with homework outside of the classroom setting. Learners can also form groups over the social networking sites and engage in discussion over a variety of topics.

Bridges communication gap: Social media bridges the distance among different people. It offers platforms for online users to find others who share the same interests and build virtual communities based on those shared interests. With the availability of social media technologies and services, content sharing and user interaction has become relatively easy and efficient.

Source of information: Content sharing sites have become user friendly and serve as authentic source of information for various topics and news. Users can search for content, download and use the content available on these sites free of cost

Popular Social Media Tools and Platforms:

Blogs: A platform for casual dialogue and discussions on a specific topic or opinion.

Facebook: The world’s largest social network, with more than 1.55 billion monthly active users (as of the third quarter of 2015). Users create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and exchange messages, including status updates. Brands create pages and Facebook users can “like” brands’ pages.

Twitter: A social networking/micro-blogging platform that allows groups and individuals to stay connected through the exchange of short status messages.

YouTube & Vimeo: Video hosting and watching websites.

Flickr: An image and video hosting website and online community. Photos can be shared on Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites.

Instagram: A free photo and video sharing app that allows users to apply digital filters, frames and special effects to their photos and then share them on a variety of social networking sites.

Snapchat: A mobile app that lets users send photos and videos to friends or to their “story.” Snaps disappear after viewing or after 24 hours. 

LinkedIn: A place where groups of professionals with similar areas of interest can share information and participate in a healthy conversation regarding professional development and job search.

Contributed by: Saadia Khalid

(PhD Scholar , Visiting Faculty –Punjab University)