How social media changed the world

2012 may be remembered as the year of ‘slacktivism’, signing online petitions with a single click, copying and pasting Facebook statuses and retweeting to raise awareness about issues without actually getting involved.

However, social media helped us achieve a lot last year too. From space travel to crime solving, social media is becoming a bigger part of our lives every day and helping us do more.

Breaking news

More and more social media is becoming a news source. This year social media helped us keep up to date with breaking news instantaneously – for example, the US Presidential Election. As soon as the news broke, President Obama tweeted a picture showing him hugging his wife Michelle, which was quickly retweeted more than any other tweet. Just as television and radio overtook printed media, social media is quickly taking over them.

Playing detective

This year we saw a couple of awesome examples if social media used as a crime-solving tool. A picture of a car part posted on reddit was quickly identified – make, model and year– resulting in the man who stole the car and used it in a hit and run being tracked down.

Social media also helped catch a gang accused of murders after they posted on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Important updates during Hurricane Sandy

Immediately following Hurricane Sandy, the most popular Facebook statuses included “we’re okay,” “we’re safe” and “made it”. Thousands were without power, but the convenience of social media allowed those affected by the disaster to let everyone know they were okay and check up on loved ones.

2012 also saw the Weather Channel in the US create hashtags on Twitter for individual storms, allowing those affected to easily track information about the storm and prepare before it hit.

Being a part of history

This year the team at NASA put a rover on the red planet to investigate the climate and geology of Mars – but this time, we got to keep up to date with its adventures like never before. Throughout its two-year mission, @MarsCuriosity will provide us with regular updates from the Red Planet, including pictures, and even check ins on Foursquare!

Learning an important lesson

Children are the future and so is social media. A primary school class in Victoria created a Twitter account and one of the students sent a tweet to Julia Gillard regarding his NAPLAN testing results – the class got a response from Peter Garrett, Minister for School Education.

With the rise of social media it seems almost inevitable that it enters our classrooms, and it was even mentioned at the World Innovation Summit for Education this year. Student formed groups on Facebook allow collaborative learning while blogs written by teachers give updates on homework, assignments and exams.

Class twitter accounts even allow parents to keep up with what’s happening at school. With the rollout of the NBN there is no doubt that we’ll see video conferencing through programs like Skype between classes and schools. 

So what’s next?

A couple of years ago we would have never imagined the internet being used the way it is today. I look forward to seeing what achievement 2013 brings!

Photo credit


  1. Robert says:

    I hope we never see the day social media is used in classrooms. It has no place and many children (and even more adults) want nothng to do with it.

    • Doug says:



      I couldn’t agree with you more. The invasiveness of the social media companies “terms of use” and what they can do with your information is just one aspect of why social media is a bad idea.
      Besides that, I have no interest in reading the every random though of the world at large.
      What is actually diarising writ large is no more appealing than reading a book form diary 50 years ago when diaries were all the rage then.
      It is just another trendy craze.

    • David says:

      couldnt agree more.
      what is the purpose of life?
      why not be born in a sealed box with just social media and live vicariously.
      time spent tittle tattling about things we dont know is pointless waste of heartbeats.
      get a life people.

    • Michael Sibley says:

      Quite agree. The classroom is for educational curriculum learning not tittle tattle.
      At my granddaughter’s school they hand in their mobile phones prior to classes and collect them at the end of lessons. The teacher is the facilitator of learning. Full stop.

  2. han says:

    Facebook started in school. School is social media for Kids. It certainly will go on line, and global. The quality of information that kids are exposed to could really improve; Show and tell was really awful at my school, limited and provincial.
    If kids had reddit, facesbook, and twitter at school it could make school cool and Kids smart. Parents would feel out of the loop, but then, they always have 😀

  3. Archie Lea says:

    Urgent! We have sent you”se a cheque in the mail for payment last week.
    If you”se keep annoying with doubling upon the phone calls on the internet we will look for another provider.

    Yours sincerely Archie Lea

  4. Mel says:

    Perhaps it’s our responsibility as adults (and teachers) to teach children how to use this form of media responsibly. It’s not going to go away so we can choose to teach our children how to use it beneficially or we can ignore it and allow them to fall into the pitfalls of cyber-bullying etc. Social media can be (and often is) used negatively but burying our heads in the sand will not stop this from happening – educating the new generation might.