The Use of Social Networking Sites

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By Ogechi Ebere By Ogechi Ebere Their Advantages, Abuses and Dangers. Their Advantages, Abuses and Dangers. The Use of Social Networking Sites The Use of Social Networking Sites Introduction: Human beings by and large are social. They feel an inherent need to connect and expand their connections. There is a deep rooted need among humans to share. In the past, due to geographical distances and economic concerns, connections between people were limited. A social network is made up of individuals that are connected to one another by a particular type of interdependency. It could be ideas, values, trade, anything.
Social networks operate on many levels. Initially social networking happened at family functions where all relative and friends would conglomerate under one roof. Social networking has always been prevalent; it is just that in these times the face of social networking has changed. Where earlier the process was long drawn, involving a chain movement where in one person led to another through a web of social contacts, today the process is highly specialized. I’ll introduce to you the most must-know advantages and disadvantages, dangers of social media so you’ll be aware of how to use it in the safest and most valuable possible ways!
Advantages of Social Networking Sites: 1) Low Cost Communication (essentially free) If you go on to social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo or MySpace, you can send messages back and forth to multiple friends at once, absolutely free from charge (apart from the cost of actually running the internet, and computer etc. ). 2) Making New Friends You are given the opportunity to make new friends via such sites, whether that be ‘suggested friends’ (a friend of a friend) or online relations that can be formed due to a shared interest or hobby. 3) The Ability to Upload Videos and Images

Most Social Networking platforms have the capability to allow you to upload particular media. So a wide selected audience can view your pictures and videos. Saving you having to send images and videoes directly to each person you want to see them, instead they can simply pop over to your account profile and view them. 4) The Ease of Setting Up Events Facebook allows you to create events, which is an online organised meeting to do something (in the real world) with a set time and place, so via Facebook you can offer invites to the event and make announcements etc.
Again saving time, as you aren’t having to go around communicating to everyone individually. 5) Sharing Knowledge Social networking sites give you the capability to share information with ease, and by doing this Julia Porter states that people are able to “increase both their learning and their flexibility in ways that would not be possible within a self-contained hierarchical organisation” – this particular statement was is in regards to passing information around scientists, however it can also be applied to other organisations also. ) Finding Old Friends Social networking is a great tool to reunite with friends, with social networking sites such as “Friends Reunited”. Where a simple sign-up and filling in a few details – you have just allowed yourself to be found by old friends. 7) Tools for Teaching As students are using a wide range of social networking sites already, teachers have taken advantage of this. Teachers have started to bring up online academic discussions (through threads and chat rooms) – for their students to participate in.
Social network platforms also provide teachers with the ability to help students out with homework and communicate with parents. 8) Pursuing Jobs and Work Experience Twitter in particular is a great tool for this, tweeting that you are interested in a particular job or internship could be a great step to actually securing one. As your followers may not actually have a opportunity for you, but they may know people who do – so you don’t only tap into your network, you tap into the network of the people who are following you (i. e the friend of the friend’s network).
Disadvantages of Social Networking Sites: 1) The Invasion Of Privacy It has been addressed on many occasions in the news and in the press, that we are giving away too much ‘personal information’ about ourselves, and that this is leading us to becoming vulnerable to the likes of identity theft etc. 2) Reducing Worker Productivity There has been evidence to suggest social networking sites are harming businesses. Their employees are wasting time right throughout the day by participating in social networking sites rather than actually working.
It has been stated that Facebook alone is accountable to wasting more than ? 130 million a day in the UK. 3) How Much Do Social Networking Sites Know? Perhaps social networking sites have learnt a bit too much information for comfort, Facebook knows via their program ‘Facebook Beacon’  that analyses our natural online behaviour – how long we are on the internet for, how often we visit certain websites etc. They monitor your activity even when you aren’t actually even logged in to Facebook! 4) Potential to Cause Harm
There has been many reported cases, where fake accounts have been made, that lead to horrific tragedies. Such as in October 2006 a fake MySpace account was created that was given the name of Josh Evans that was closely linked to the suicide of Megan Meier. 5) The Case of Cyber-Bullying As many young teenagers are using social networking sites as a form of communication, this just provides bullies with another opportunity to traumatise their victims. With few limitations from social networking sites to what people can actually post, bullies have the ability to publish offensive images and comments. ) “Trolling” These are rather common occurrences where individuals will post within a social network, to either annoy or spark a reaction through a post or general comment – these people are often referred to as Trolls. Not really bullying, more being a nuisance on the social network. 7) Causing a Lack of Personal Communication There is a concern over people becoming so reliant upon the convenience of social networking sites that they aren’t actually using ‘real-life’ verbal skills and they losing out on social intimacy with other people. ) Psychological Issues Studies have been conducted where the results suggest that people are becoming addicted to social networking sites – e. g. a case of fourteen year old spending over eight hours day on Facebook etc. . There is also evidence to suggest that these sites can cause a person to feel ‘lonely’. The Dangers Of Social Networking Sites: There are many inherent dangers of social networking sites because of the way the websites work. One of the biggest dangers is fraud, sometimes having to do with identity theft.
Because these sites are based on friends and the passing along of bits of personal information, thieves realized the potential instantly. There are endless social networking scams that crooks can try to pull off with this medium and we have only seen the “tip of the iceberg” so far. The newest mainstream social network is twitter. It’s based on people following others and getting to read their tweets of 140 characters or less. This is one of the dangers of social networking sites because many people want as many followers as possible and they aren’t shy about what they say in their tweets.
This highlights the trouble with Twitter and many other social networking sites. Many people’s goals on these sites is to have as many friends as possible and they just don’t think before they message or add friends. Unfortunately, this sets them up to be victimized by one scam or the next. The biggest social network in the world is facebook. Started in 2004 by a Harvard student, this site has had a meteoric rise. Facebook has become a huge software platform that houses every application imaginable and millions of games and groups and users. This brings us to another one of the dangers of social networking sites.
With the goal of becoming bigger than big, can these sites really protect the average users while on their site? Yes, this should be up to the individual user, but certain things cannot be controlled by the user and when the site has 200 million users (100 million log in everyday! ), how much resource can be used for protecting clients of the site? With so many people logged in everyday that contribute personal information constantly, the crooks have followed and committed ”Facebook identity theft” to get what they need. There are truly endless scams they have tried and will try to pull off on the social networks.
Teen Social Networking By The Numbers: * 51 Percentage of teens who check their sites more than once a day. * 22 Percentage who check their sites more than 10 times a day. * 39 Percentage who have posted something they later regretted. * 37 Percentage who have used the sites to make fun of other students. * 25 Percentage who have created a profile with a false identity. * 24 Percentage who have hacked into someone else’s social networking account. * 13 Percentage who have posted nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves or others online. acebook identity theft like any other online identity theft, can be extremely dangerous for teenagers. With their brain still developing, it is very easy to take advantage of them by pretending to be someone else (usually a crush). There have been many cases like this and it devastates the teen when the criminal reveals that it was a hoax. Many teens have fallen into deep depression or even lost their life, an enormous tragedy and one of the biggest dangers of social networking sites. Be Careful! Be Careful! There are thousands and thousands of facebook impostors out there looking to make an easy buck or harass people they know.

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