The survey says….

I have to admit that this is one blog post that might appear to be a bit of a rant. The reason is that I am sick of reading half-baked research and surveys about a whole range of things. But it is the ones that claim various things about social media that are the most frustrating.

There is one today in the tabloid newspapers about problems of low self-esteem and Facebook that used a survey of 300 people. Every day there is some kind of report claiming that social media is bad for us, or in a few rare cases that it is the best thing since sliced bread. I wonder what the purpose is of some of these small-scale inquiries?

My concerns are focused on how many people actually read these surveys and believe them. It is easy to get carried away on a sea of random statistics but we have to look behind the presentation to get to how the survey or research was undertaken. Was it from a particular viewpoint, does it have independence and who seeks to gain from the results? We all need to be a little more critical in our reading around survey reports.

It is increasingly clear that there are so many people now using social media that it will cover a whole range of human emotions, drives and experiences. Taking a small group and trying to define the experiences they have will only cover part of the story. For me, research on social media needs to be broad and deep which means it will take some time to clearly show results.

If we are going to conduct social psychology research on social media then it needs to stand up to scrutiny. It needs to be detailed, thorough and take place over a longer period of time or cover a much more significant number of users. There is still a lot to learn about social media but it is important to avoid the sweeping statements from the many surveys that are being reported.

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