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Pre-enrolment task for 2014 entry

Sociology Why do I need to complete a pre-enrolment task?   The AS subjects sociology and/or psychology will be new to you at college as you will not have studied them at GCSE level, so it is vitally important that you understand as clearly as possible the nature of the subject before you start. This will help ensure a smooth transition from GCSE to AS level study and success in the AS level examinations. Your teachers will look very carefully at your completed pre-enrolment task work and will use your results from this work as part of the process of induction to the course. This induction continues for the first four weeks of the academic year, and includes several other assessments in order to see how well you progress, in particular, to see how well you are able to cope with the examination requirements of the course. At New College, we offer a vocational A level in health and Social Care which does not have examinations and is assessed through coursework. Through the induction period students who are identified as unlikely to pass the AS examinations will be transferred to the vocational A level course in order to maximise their potential success.

When should I hand it in? You should bring the work to your enrolment day so that it can be marked during the first week of college.

How will I be given feedback on how well I have done? Feedback will be given during the first week of teaching. This task will be marked on a pass, merit or distinction basis. The criteria will be based on effective use of the item, inclusion of additional wider reading and your ability to balance two sides of an argument

Task In Detail Read the article on social networking and answer the following questions. The task must be handwritten, in full sentences and paragraphs, take around an hour to complete and be between 1 and 2 sides of lined A4 paper in length. 1. What percentage of respondents claimed “they would rather spend time talking face to face than  online”?  2. Making explicit references to the article and any other sources (including personal knowledge), discuss  the positive and negative impacts of social networking. 

Huddersfield New College, New Hey Road, Huddersfield, HD3 4GL Telephone: 01484 652341 email: info@huddnewcoll.ac.uk www.huddnewcoll.ac.uk


Social networking Social networking has become a mainstream online activity among all age groups, and is now seen by many as an essential part of modern life. Facebook, for example, has 120 million active users worldwide. Research published by Ofcom (the Office of Communications) in April 2008 revealed that 30% of all British adults had a social networking profile. Similarly, research by comScore.inc, a world leader is the measurement of online activity, found that in the month of May 2009, 29.4 million people in the UK (80% of the total online UK population) accessed at least one social networking site. This represents a 9% growth compared to the previous year. Facebook proved the most popular site, whilst Twitter showed the greatest amount of growth – more than 3,000%. Twitter had only 100,000 UK users in May 2008, but by the summer of 2009 this figure had mushroomed to 2.6 million (see Table 1). The incidence of setting up a social networking profile and visiting networking sites varies with age, and 15-34 year olds are the most likely to be involved. The comScore research showed, however, that even among internet users aged 55+, two-thirds had visited a social networking site during the survey month. The Ofcom research found that almost half (49%) of all children aged 8-17 who use the internet had set up their own profile. Despite the fact that most social networking sites have a minimum age for users, typically 13 or 14 years, 27% of 8-11 year olds who are aware of social networking sites say that they have an online profile. Use of social networking sites Adult social networking users typically use a variety of sites. On average, each adult has profiles on 1.6 sites, with 39% of adults having profiles on two or more sites. Half of all adult networkers say that they access their profiles at least every other day. Social networking is now the second most popular online activity, based on average time spent per user, with only instant messaging accounting for more time (8.6 hours per month) (see Table 2). The use of social networking sites varies not only by age but by socio-economic status and also region. While Facebook is the most popular site with adults, children are most likely to favour Bebo (which covers 63% of children who have a social networking profile). Among adults, socio-economic groups ABC1 are more likely to use Facebook, which C2DE are more likely to have a profile on MySpace. There are also marked regional variations in the use of these sites, with the citizens of Glasgow having the lowest usage at 12%, and those of Norwich the highest, with 45% of all adults in that city regularly on social networking sites. Table 1. Top ten social networking sites by total UK Unique Visitors aged 15+ May 2009 (home and work locations – excludes internet activity from public computers such as internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs) 36,855 Total UK internet audience 29,444 Social networking audience Facebook.com 23,860 Beb0 8,546 Windows Live Profile 6,891 MySpace Sites 6,531 Twitter.com 2,670 Digg.com 1,759 Friends Reunited Group 1,629 Tagged.com 1,625 Deviantart.com 1,456 Buzznet 1,370 Source: comScore World Metrix study

+7 +9 +57 -28 N/A -22 +3,226 +34 -50 +143 +61 +46

Is social networking a good thing? There are obvious benefits to social networking, particularly the case of keeping in touch with friends and relatives, and making contact with people with shared interests. Recently, however, some concerns have been expressed. In August 2009 the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, argued that social networking sites encouraged teenagers to build ‘transient relationships’ that could leave them traumatised and even suicidal when such links disappeared. He said “They (young people) throw themselves into a friendship or network of friendships, then it collapses and they’re Huddersfield New College, New Hey Road, Huddersfield, HD3 4GL Telephone: 01484 652341 email: info@huddnewcoll.ac.uk www.huddnewcoll.ac.uk


desolate”. The archbishop also said that the internet and mobile phones were ‘dehumanising’ community life, and that relationships had been weakened by the alleged decline in face-to-face meetings. His comments, in an article in the Sunday Telegraph (2 August 2009), were made following the inquest into the death of 15 year-old Megan Gillan, of Macclesfield, who took a fatal drug overdose after being bullied on Bebo. In November 2008 the BBC reported the case of a 13 year-old girl from Missouri, USA, who was being bullied through the MySpace network. She believed that the culprit was a 16 year-old boy from the same neighbourhood, and she eventually took her own life. In fact, the abuser was the mother of one of the girl’s former friends, who had set up a fake profile to torment her. The woman was convicted of computer fraud and other offences and given a probation order and a fine of $5000. Table 2. Age profile of networking site category visitors aged 15+ May 2009 (home and work locations – excluded internet activity from public computers such as internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs) Total UK internet audience 80 15-24 86 25-34 89 35-44 79 45-54 77 55+ 67 Source: comScore Wrold Metrix study

4.6 5.4 5.4 4.6 3.9 3.7

Aside from such extreme cases, is there any evidence that social networking has a detrimental effect on individuals and on society? Dr Aric Sigman, a psychologist and fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, believes that there is. He claims that evidence suggests that a decline in face-to-face communications can alter the way that genes work and affect immune responses, hormone levels, the function of arteries and even mental performance. He maintains that social networking sites have played a significant part in making people become more isolated. He says that real face-to-fact interaction has an effect on the body that is not present when communicating electronically. He thinks that there is probably an evolutionary mechanism at work here that recognises the benefits of people being physically in contact with each other. Dr Sigman also argues that the use of electronic media undermines people’s social skills and their ability to read body language, and essential aspect of social interaction. Friends: online or face-to-face? A US survey on social networking was carried out by Brightkite, a social discovery network, and Gfk Technology, a leading market research company, and published by Euroinvestor in March 2009. The research found that 87% of respondents claimed that they would rather spend time talking face-to-fact than online. Overall, respondents preferred ‘fact time’ 44 times more than using social networks. This was particularly true for women, who said that they preferred face time 70 times more than communicating on social networks. Men preferred it 33 times more. However, despite these claims, when the researchers looked at how US adults actually spent time, they found that:  Two-thirds of respondents agreed that they do not see their friends as often as they would like  9%^ of respondents admitted that they are ‘addicted to social networks’, peaking at 21% for the 18-24 age group  11% of respondents aged 18-24 spent more than four hours a day on social networks. The Ofcom research from 2008 points out that while contact lists on social networking sites talk about ‘friends’, in practice the term is used to mean anyone with whom a user has an online connection, rather than someone who is known personally and with whom one has some sort of relationship. Again, unlike ‘offline’ or ‘real world’ friendships, online connections are displayed in a visible and very public way. The result is that networkers may be sharing their personal details with people they do not know well, or even with complete strangers. It is fairly common to post information such as religious affiliation, political views, sexuality and date of birth – details that in the offline world might be revealed only to close friends. Such detailed information can be used by fraudsters for identity theft. The Ofcom research showed that 22% of social networkers aged 16-24 communicated with people they had never met and did not know. The researchers also found that networking sites were seen largely as a fun and easy leisure activity and that privacy and safety issued were not ‘top of mind’ for most users. Many users left the sites’ privacy Huddersfield New College, New Hey Road, Huddersfield, HD3 4GL Telephone: 01484 652341 email: info@huddnewcoll.ac.uk www.huddnewcoll.ac.uk


settings in the default ‘open’ position, visible to anyone, and 34% of 16-24 year-old users willingly posted details such as their telephone number and home and work e-mail addresses. Forty-four percent of networking adults and 41% of 8-17 year olds said that their profile was visible to anyone. One of the supposedly democratising aspects of internet usage is the ability to express personal opinions to a wide audience, but this, again, is open to abuse. Christopher Wolf, chair of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH), says that the ‘virus of hate’ has infected the new technologies. He claims that every aspect of the internet is being used by extremists of all types of ‘repackage old hatreds and recruit new haters’, pointing out that on video sites such as YouTube, for example, there are thousands of hate messages of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and intolerance towards minorities. The posting of personal information on social networking sites could similarly leave people open to ‘hate messages’. Conclusion With social networking still a relatively new mass phenomenon, it is as yet impossible to determine whether it will deepen and extend social networks or bring about, or at least influence, increasing social isolation and damage to communities and community life. Social networking sites are obviously popular and, for the majority of users, they are enjoyable and safe. However, it would be naïve to ignore the fact that there are disadvantages, both actual and potential, to individuals and to society. Children would appear to be particularly vulnerable, as there is usually no way of checking that a networker is who he or she claims to be. Marsali Hancock, president of the US-based Internet Keep Safe Coalition, says that no one, and especially children, should ever have the impression that that they do online is private.

Huddersfield New College, New Hey Road, Huddersfield, HD3 4GL Telephone: 01484 652341 email: info@huddnewcoll.ac.uk www.huddnewcoll.ac.uk


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