Social networking sites Online social networking site is a very common tool for communicating and socializing with each other. Nowadays, most of the adolescent like to use Facebook. There is a rapid growth of the number of user of social networking sites. According the recent research, Kreutz (2009) stated that “starting from 1997 to 2010 there are some 1. 5 billion users of social networking websites” (p. 222). This shows that how popular the social networking site is. Although many parents think that there are many existing dangers in social networking sites, it is good for both education and interpersonal relationship for the teenagers.
This essay will discuss the benefits and negative effects of using social networking sites for young people: enlarge and maintain the relationship, develop greater awareness of social issues and attract the online predators to conduct their criminal activities. One of the advantage is the teenagers can enlarge the friendship and maintain the existing relationship by using social networking sites. Social networking sites provide a platform for connecting with the friends.
For maintaining the old relationship, social networking site is very convenient for teenagers to have conversation with friends, share their photos, videos and view others’ status. Dunne, Lawlor and Rowley (2010) pointed out that the purpose of most of the users that using SNS is to see what is new in their friends’ status (p. 53). In Facebook, one of the social networking sites, friend will share their current situation and their recent activities by uploading the new photos, videos and new comments in their profile pages.
To the sum up, these sites provide an invaluable connection to our old life we had left. Although you go very far away, friends also know what you are doing by seeing your status. Apart from all this, these sites also have another important function. You can expand your social circle effectively. Before the appearance of the Internet, people just used some methods simple like sending letters, calling the others and even physically meeting each other to build the relationship. Nowadays these sites can help you to make new friends easily. Kate (2010) remarked that “it’s a good way of talking to boys, you can post a comment on their site or ask them to be your friend without being embarrassed or feeling stupid” (p. 53).
On the social networking sites, users can build relationship with anyone they want. It is very easy for them to find the people who have the similar or shared interests with them. You can talk about yourself, your identity and your interests and make friends that way. Furthermore, they can present a positive self-identity in social networking sites. This is one of their methods to attract people to make friends with them. They will make themselves look good, such as pick the best photos, show off their coolest friends and just make fun. In conclusion, social networking sites is a form of connection to our old lift and also a good tool that making friends in online. The other advantage is more adolescents develop greater awareness of social issues because of social networking sites. Youth is the social pillars in the future; they largely contribute to the social development. They are playing the leading role in solving social problems, so it is important for increasing teenagers’ awareness of social issues. In Social Networking sites, the adolescents like to communicate with people sharing the same thought and interest.
Except making friends, social networking sites also used to discuss the social issues. Jain, Gupta and Anand (2012) commented that “this is a pool of social problems which requires attention of majority so that we can fight against them as a united country and make the society more peaceful” (p. 36). For instance, there are more than 150 pages about social issues such as human rights, corruption, girls education have uploaded in the last few months in social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube and Orkut. According to the research of Jain, Gupta and Anand (2012), the main age group of participate in discussing these social issues is 20-40; they actively give their justification on these subjects (p. 42). This result shows that because of the social networking usages, youth were more active in discussing the social issues. In addition to discussion, the users also like to hold different political activities in Facebook for inviting others to join it, such as parade, hunger strike.. Various protests have been done by many social activists they gathered through social networking. Furthermore, social networking sites also provide a place for the groups from different countries including minority groups and subcultures who never physically get the space to express their opinion and belief.
All the people can use these websites to participate and voice themselves. As these social issues need regular meeting for discussing and expressing their views, teenagers can use them to meet periodically or regularly depending on their and others’ requirement. Therefore, these sites is acting as an office, they can hold the meetings and political activities regularly and inviting new members to join the discussion. All in all, most of the information of social issues is obtained from social networking sites. Adolescents are getting more aware about social issues because of discussing the debatable topics and news articles on these sites. These sites are proving them chance to bring thoughts of people on these social issues. Therefore, social networking sites is good for educating the adolescants. Apart from advantages, there is also negative effect by using social networking sites for teenagers.
The social networking sites attract the online predators to conduct their criminal activities. These social networking sites suggest people to put all their personal information on their profile page when they are registering as their new members; it is easy for criminals to get this information. In Facebook, teenagers like to put all the information including personal image, name, date of birth, hometown and ZIP code in their profile page. The criminal can use this information to find out a person’s sensitive medical information and security number. They also can easily estimate physical location of a person by using the information provided on Facebook profile page. People are least bothered about their profile privacy. Although there is an option of visibility on the user profile fields on these sites. This means user can decide which information can be seen by everyone on the network, but most of the teenagers tend to keep their profiles open to everyone. They are happy to share their personal information in online world. Fukuyama, Lewis and Weigert (2007) in their respected papers claimed that “trust is a critical determinant in personal or face to face relationships”(p. 48).
This means trust is an important factor that determines the crime is success or not. It will not be very difficult for an online predator to gain trust from an individual by employing interactions, especially most of the online predators prefer to meet and entice their victims online. If an online predator is being trusted by a teen and successfully become one of his friend in Facebook, this means this online predator can find their victims in this teen’s friend list. There is a lot of reports about criminal activities involving the social networking sites can be heard. For example, according to “Facebook-crime” (2010), Ashleigh Hall, a 17 years old girl, was murdered by a man who gets acquainted in Facebook. Actually, that man is a 33 years old man and he created a Fake profile as a teenager. This shows that the major problem is that there is no method to verify the actual identity on online and it is too easy for online predator to gain access the personal information on these sites.
In conclusion, these sites are a good way of maintaining relationship and building new relationship. However, there are many existing dangers of using these sites, so a user should be careful. Do not put too many personal data on these sites, it is risky that this data may being used in bad way. The teenagers should keep this data properly, do not get tricked by older people who lie about their age and who are online. The advantages of using these social networking sites outweigh its disadvantage, so I agreed the teenagers to use these sites. The growth of social networking sites shows a significant change in social and personal behaviour of Internet user. These sites largely help teenagers’ interpersonal relationship become closer, but everything can be used for a bad purpose as well as good. We need to be more careful, prevent getting trapped by online predators.