MADISON (WKOW)-- Social media is the fastest growing mode of communication for people, and it's the way many relationships are formed and maintained these days. We talked with everyone from teachers, to accountants, to students, and they all agree: The times have changed. In many cases our connections have shifted from face to face, to laptop to Skype, and iPad to smartphone.
Kathy Kellen is a teacher at Levi Leonard Elementary School in Evansville, in the Evansville Community District. She remembers a time when social media didn't even exist. She says, "I think about when I was growing up and we'd go out to play and my mom would say 'Well, be back in time for supper."
But that was then, and this is now.
People like Joe Wenninger use social media a lot. In fact, Joe says, " I basically use social media all day." He's not alone in that. Kathy says, "I probably check my Facebook a few times a day."
So, it's clear, the days of walking down the street to visit Grandma are mostly gone. Now, you can connect with anyone, anytime, anywhere, particularly with Skype.
Joe says, " I was on a trip and I got to Skype with a friend in Japan." That's not all that Joe uses. He's well versed in the art of Skype, Facebook, and group text. He uses them daily to connect with friends and family. For the most part Joe says, it's a positive force in his life. He says, "I think it's a great thing."
And so do most people, even those new to social media. Chris Doll is one example. Chris just got cell phones for her whole family this past month. She says, they didn't really need them, but she must admit, "I'm enjoying texting."
Relationships today are faster, and often easier to manage with social media, especially when you need to reach a lot of people at one time. Kathy says, "One thing with Facebook, when my dad passed away, it was a great way to put it out there without having to say it over and over again."
Nevertheless, social media researchers say it has downfalls, like never getting off of it.
Joanne Cantor, is a Professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin in the Communication Arts Department. She says social media can become too much. For example, "It's sort of like if you keep eating and eating and never stop, when are you going to digest your food?"
Experts like Cantor say, another downfall to social media and our relationships is the loss of body language. Research shows that over half of our communication is non-verbal. So, with social media you can easily misinterpret things.
Kathy says, "People really need to be taught that you don't type in all caps, that's shouting."
Chris says, "I've just seen things on Facebook that I don't think people were thinking."
You know what she's talking about. We all need to practice, good netiquette, or etiquette on the Internet. As well as, talking respectfully to one another. But regardless of the do's and don'ts of social media, one thing is for sure: It's a huge part of most relationships now, and it's here to stay.
Joe says, "My mom, dad, all my aunts and uncles are all on Facebook and I'm one of those people who is friends with them and interacts with them."
Kathy says, "The relationships that develop through them have just been fantastic."