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For many, holidays like Thanksgiving signify a time for family and friends to come together. Many families throw or attend parties to ensure quality time with loved ones. However, not everyone is able to see their family in person during the holidays.

Distance, military leave, financial reasons, and prior engagements often prevent families from convening. Fortunately though, in this modern era of technology, staying in touch with family and friends is easier than ever. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all forms of social media people use to be constantly up to date on the lives of family and friends. Facebook Messenger, IMG_1409 Skype, and WhatsApp also allow people to chat or video chat their loved ones. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of technology users have social media accounts to stay in touch with family and friends.

At M-A, lots of students use social media to talk to family and friends they do not see often. While M-A alumni now in college tend to come home for the holidays, families still use social media to keep in touch with their students who are away at college.

Senior Leah Chueh uses Facebook to talk to family in Boston, the U.S. and Taiwan. For Chueh, it is not practical to travel to Taiwan often to see family herself, but with social media she can stay in touch with family from here in Menlo Park.

Junior Nina Larijani also uses Facebook to keep in contact with family. Larijani has family in Iran, and while she has not visited them in years, she is regularly updated on their lives through Facebook. Larijani uses Facebook Messenger to chat with her family and friends and iPhone’s FaceTime (that works like Skype) to video chat with family. Larijani notes that to call people in Iran on a traditional phone “[she and her family] have to purchase calling cards or pay a company that transfers the call to Iran.” While calling family and friends overseas can be difficult, social media sites simplify this process and allow people like Larijani to be in touch with family often.

People frequently criticize social media and overlook its benefits of keeping people connected. Social media sites have increased communication in general, but particularly within families. Without social media, Chueh, Larijani, and others would have greater difficulty communicating to family overseas. M-A seniors applying to college right now will most likely use social media to stay in touch with friends and family if they move away from home after graduation. Social media is a strong tool of communication and its ability to keep family and friends connected is heartwarming.

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