There are many problems with social networking sites and the teenagers that use them.
It is one of the most popular Internet activities among teenagers. On these social networks, most teens create at least a basic profile, with their name, age, status, photo and interests, but many go much further. Many teens make regular visits to update their profiles and to visit others' profiles.
Communicating with others is a key aspect of using social networks. Teens may post public messages or may use bulletins or private messages to communicate with those on their friends list. Most teens use sites such as MySpace and Facebook to stay in touch with their current friends. Teenagers also use the sites to make new friends, make social plans with their friends, and sometimes to flirt.
Positives and Negatives
Apart from the social benefits, social networking sites can be used to document school research, promote artistic talents and experiment with other forms of content creation. They provide a way to interact with others who share the same interests and to get constructive feedback on ongoing projects.
Along with these benefits come some risks. Most social networking sites are open to all which means that your teen could be exposed to harassment, bullying or sexual advances.
Cyber-bullying and harassment are most often perpetrated by other teens and tend to happen most to older girls and to teens of either gender who have a strong online presence. It may take several forms:
- publicizing private instant messages, text messages or e-mails
- posting threatening messages
- posting photos that will cause embarrassment
- spreading rumors
It's rare for harassment to spill over into real-world conflicts, but it can still be a cause of emotional distress for teens.
The anonymity of some social networking sites makes it easy for unscrupulous people to target young teens and engage them in harmful conversations. It's easy for predators to pose as teens and lure children into harmful real-world contact as well. Most social networking sites have privacy controls in place, but teens seldom use them. Active monitoring of profiles and behaviors catches some predators, but not all of them.
Another risk is identity theft, which can occur when teens share too much information about their name, date of birth and location.
Social Networking Safety
It's up to parents to make sure their kids are safe when they use social networking. Many of the same rules that apply to online chat apply to these sites:
- Use an alias.
- Don't give out personal information to people you don't know. A last name and a town are enough for a predator to locate your child.
- Don't assume that people are who they claim to be.
- Immediately end any communication that makes you uncomfortable and report it to a parent.
For younger teens, you should investigate any sites they'd like to use. Find out what privacy protections are in place and insist that your teen uses them. For children under 16, that often means a private profile that can only be seen by approved friends.
Older teens may want a public profile to promote a band or other creative work. In this case, have your child create a second, public profile for the project while still restricting the personal profile to family and close friends. It's best to set up these profiles with a free e-mail from Yahoo or Google using an alias that can't be traced back to find personal information.
In : People