What Are the Benefits of Internet & Social Networking?

By David Nield

Facebook is the world's biggest social network.
i Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Internet and social networking sites such as Facebook have transformed the way we socialize and otherwise interact. The Web enables instant communication with almost anyone almost anywhere we choose. Social-network sites provide a structure through which it's possible to formalize friendships and connections as well as to share a wealth of content, from holiday photos to major life events.

Maintaining Friendships

The Internet and online social networking enable us to maintain friendships that might otherwise be lost. Someone who has moved away, become ill, lost touch, or who is unable to meet face-to-face for whatever reason can still maintain friendships over a social network. These sites give us a platform through which we can share feelings, news, and content without having to meet physically, breaking down geographical barriers and time constraints that would otherwise limit these friendships.

Creating New Friendships

Relationships can be created as well as maintained over the Web and social networks. Through the use of Facebook, Twitter, and email, new acquaintances can be formed and networks created, whether around a group of mutual friends or a common interest. In this way Internet social networking can be seen as a catalyst to help create new real-life friendships that would otherwise not have existed. The Internet has the capability to connect you to someone new from the other end of the street or the other side of the planet.

Sharing Content and Knowledge

Social networking sites enable users to share content and knowledge quickly and easily, whether it's a gallery of photographs from the park or tips on how to encourage birds to visit your garden. Anything from a passionate treaty on politics to a step-by-step guide to replacing a lightbulb can be shared over social networks, giving users the opportunity to share material they find interesting and to benefit from the content shared by others in their network.

Getting Support and Encouragement

The Web in general and social networking sites in particular enable us to rally around a particular cause or movement. People who feel alone, depressed, or isolated can find new contacts and encouragement over social networks, for example. Charities, causes, and emergencies can be highlighted on social networks through their ability to share and share again (via Twitter's retweet function, for example). Whether it's one person in need or a whole nation, the Internet's emerging social networks enable help to be sought faster than ever before.