Bosses with a "Neanderthal reaction" to Facebook need to learn how social media can be used effectively in the workplace, a computer expert says.
Professor Michael Myers, an information systems expert at the University of Auckland, says his research into the growing impact of social media on young workers has shown young people need social networking because they have grown up with it.
"From the time they were almost a baby they started using digital technologies and they need to be connected to their friends, to their family, to everyone," Myers told TV ONE's Breakfast.
He criticised bosses with a policy of banning Facebook in the workplace.
"That's what I call a Neanderthal reaction," he said.
"It's somebody who doesn't understand how these tools can be used. And it's overreaction, it's just trying to ban it outright.
"It's a new tool so it's just a matter of us learning how this can be used effectively. So employers need to figure out how this can be used effectively."
Myers said that just as employers developed policies about email 10 years ago, they now need policies about social networking tools.
"Digital immigrants - people who are a bit older - maybe can do [their jobs] without it for a little while, but soon they're going to have to get used to it."
On Facebook itself, Breakfast viewers today overwhelmingly said the social networking site should not be used at work but is a leisure activity, unless it is actually required as part of a job.
Myers agreed Facebook can be a waste of time.
"Of course anything can waste a lot of time. You can waste time playing cards, you can waste time on the phone. But Facebook nowadays, social networking, is a tool that people need all the time."
Facebook 'like oxygen'
Gen-Y Facebook user James Boult told Breakfast that Facebook is like oxygen to him.
"It's an extension of the way most Gen-Ys work," he said.
"It's an extension of the way the people who've grown up [with it], or the 'digital natives', work. They use it for problem solving, they use it for finding creative ideas."
Boult admitted Facebook can "occasionally" be a distraction in the workplace.
"But I like to view it as the modern...water cooler," he said.
"I mean in any office you find people chatting and having discussion. And that's a productive thing and no-one would discourage that. So why are they trying to limit the field in which people or youth can talk in terms of the workplace?"
Boult said he uses Facebook legitimately in his office and has the site open on his computer "a good 90 percent of my day".
Asked how much of that time would an employer consider him "skiving" from work, he said: "Potentially about 10 percent of that time."