What Is Social Media? Definition, Meaning, Social Networks, Advantage, Disadvantage

A social networking site is an online platform which –networks or social relationship with other people who share similar personal or career interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections. Social media has facilitated a lot in reshaping communication industry and redefining the ways in which we communicate and express ourselves. Social media engages people constantly and accumulate everyone in some or the other trending activity, People have embraced social media so persistently that it has become an integral part of our lives now. It is being used not only by individuals but also businesses, organisations and governments, who are utilising social media platforms for constant engagement with the masses. However, there are a number of evidences from different studies that shows that increase in the usage of smartphone and social media leads to mental distress, self injurious behaviour and suicidal tendency among youth

Different Types of Social Media

The list of social media platforms is growing and these platforms are always evolving. On these platforms, users can share thoughts, curate content, upload photos and videos, form groups based on interests and participate in lively discussions. They’re built around the user and everything that’s important to them and their social circles.

Following are the types of social media networks

• Social Networking Sites

Most of us are familiar with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. These platforms help us connect with friends, family and brands. They encourage knowledge sharing and are all about personal, human to human interaction.

• Media Sharing Networks

Social media platforms like Instagram, Youtube and Snapchat are used to share photographs, video and other kinds of media on the web.

• Discussion Forums

Social media channels like Reddit, Quora and Digg are used for finding, sharing and discussing different kinds of information, opinions and news.

•Bookmarking and Content Curation Networks

Social media networks like Pinterest, Flipboard helps to find out, share, discuss and save a variety of latest content and media that are trending as well.

• Customer Review Networks

Sites like Yelp, Zomato, TripAdvisor helps you to find, share and review different information about a variety of products, services or brands.

Social Media : A Double Edged Sword

In India, millions of people use social networking sites for various purposes. India is home to over 400 million people that use social media platforms. Some of the advantages of social media are as follows

The number of social media users have increased by 130 million between 2019-2020. Most of the users in India are using social media platforms through their mobile devices, which are prone to hacking and malicious activities.

Every social media has two sides-bright and dark. It can either be a help or a hindrance depending on the way how people use it. It is a known fact that social media sites have been used for various purposes that have brought a revolution in the society. On the other hand, there have also been various negative consequences of use of social media. Thus, it has the following advantages as well as disadvantages

Advantages of Social Media

• Connecting People

The primary advantage of social media is connectivity. People from all over the world can connect with each other easily. Social media connects us with people we may never meet in person, yet we’re still able to develop a strong relationship with these people.

•Equivocal Expression

on social media platform, there are no regulators when someone publishes something via his/her social profile. A person can express his/her opinion without any outside influence. Social media has emerged as a democratised platform.

• Revolution in Business

Small businesses and large businesses now have the same opportunities to speak with people through social media platforms. They can advertise their products through social media platforms.

•Help and Assistance

Another primary advantage of social media is that there are sections and groups on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter which are dedicated to help people out who are facing any issues regarding any product or services.

• Consumer Insight

Brands are also now able to tailor their products and services to what people really need and are looking for. Social networking helps narrow the gap between a company and their current and/or potential consumers.

• Education

Social media have immensely benefited the education sector all over the world. With the arrival of online classes to the availability of all kinds of learning resources, every student can easily educate themselves.

Disadvantages of Social Media

Some of the disadvantages of social media are as follows

• Misinformation and Fake News

As the reach of social media is increasing, there’s both ‘real’ and ‘fake’ information to be found via social content. People can find real news and they can find fake news, laid out as real.


Social media can also facilitate cyber-bullying, which can take disagreements to new levels, leaving little escape for victims. People seem to feel bolder and more apt to attack others when hiding behind their screens.

•Social media can be addictive

Social media is quite addictive and is highly damaging and detrimental for personal lives. Social media addiction result into poor performance in academics, increased inferiority complex due to constant comparison with others and deficit of real-life social skills and emotional intelligence

•Privacy Concern

Many of servers of these social media Apps are located outside the country. There have been instances of data leakage and breach of the privacy of its users. Many of the users of social media are adolescents who are generally unaware of privacy guidelines. The recent example of Bois Locker Room in Delhi was seen in this context.

• Health Issues

The excess use of networking sites has created many health issues. People who are addictive to these sites experience many negative side effects such as headache, eye strain, sleep deprivation etc.

Future of Social Media in India

Social media and networking have grown tremendously in the last two decades. The growth of social media sites has mainly been aided by a large number of young people in India, India has the largest number of facebook users in the world. It has offered a large number of opportunities to individuals, small businesses, educators, marketing companies, schools and colleges etc. Thus, the social networking media is here to stay and grow leaps and bounds. Also, e-learning has become a part of everyone’s daily routine. Thus, there is a prospect for the growth of more users on social networking sites.

There is need to strictly regulate the flow of misinformation, abuse, fake news etc. that have the ability to harm the citizens. There should be laws and policies clearly defining as to how the data of the people is to be stored, used and shared because it concerns the national security and sovereignty of India. If social media is regulated appropriately, it will bring enormous benefits for everyone.


Communication is vital to the human race as social beings. However, with the increase in penetration of social media, the onus falls on each individual who uses social media to be mindful while spending time online. Guardians must also keep an eye on how their children use social media, to monitor their social connections and restrict the amount of time they spend socialising and playing games on it. Social networking has advantages as well as disadvantages. We need to look at the problem in a scientific manner. On a positive note, we can control child’s addicting habits by limiting his/her screen time.