Has social media made young people more selfish?

12/06/14

A group of teenagers taking part in the Radio 4 documentary

Rather than encouraging us to be one big community, using social media has made us think more about ourselves.

That's according to Dr Bernie Hogan, a senior researcher at Oxford University's Internet Institute.

He's been speaking as part of documentary on BBC Radio 4 looking at how people aged 18-30 appear less keen to spend more money on the poor.

It's claimed they have less support than previous generations for the benefits system and the NHS.

In a radio documentary called Generation Right, Dr Hogan says despite the huge increase in social media many users don't see themselves as part of a community.

"The revolutions in technology make it easy to connect, but it's connecting in a peer-to-peer way. It's not 'I'm connecting to this group or organisation'" he says.

He adds relationships online are very specific: "It's not 'I'm connecting to this group', it's 'I'm connecting to this individual'".

"It leads to a sense of us being very 'networked' rather than very grouped"

Selfish brats

It also believed that rather than "sharing" content online users are actually promoting themselves - trying to look good.

The results of several survey's suggests 18-30 year olds are increasingly 'individualistic' compared to previous generations of young people.

They show signs that they are happy to take responsibility for themselves and want others to do them same. That's why they are more sceptical about the welfare system.

Some people have told the programme that young people these days are "selfish brats" obsessed with buying things rather than sharing things.

But others say that could be because they receive less from the government. For example: the introduction of university tuition fees and benefit cuts.

Generation Right is presented by Newsbeat reporter Declan Harvey. It will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 8pm, 16 June 2014 and available afterwards on the iPlayer.

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