Social Network Sites
The two leading giants of social networking sites, Facebook and Myspace have revolutionized connecting with friends and meeting new people. Facebook makes it easy for you to keep in touch with new friends and re-connect with old ones. Myspace is a music industry standard, signed or indie, which gives the little guy a chance to be known without the help of a big label companies.
The benefits are great. We can keep up with the lives of our friends, be reminded of their birthdays, be invited to events and network with people we whom we may have never met. Children are also opened to new opportunities of being able to share with a community of special interest that are not so normal for a kid without being made fun of at school. It’s important to be up to date with the technologies that are being created. “…the digital world is creating new opportunities for young people to grapple with social norms, explore interests, develop technical skills and work on new forms of self-expression.” said Karen Goldberg Goff from The Washington Times.
It’s obvious that the benefits are tremendous, which is why it can be so easy to get lost and overlook the negatives of social networking sites. “I have become more accepting that there are more positives than negatives from social networking.” says Monica Vila, the founder of theonlinemom.com. As great as the benefits are, the dangers that follow should be weighed carefully before welcoming the trendy sites in to your home. Vila suggests that moms should monitor their kids by knowing their passwords or being their friend so that they know what kind of people their kids are talking to. The idea of it sounds pleasing but “An estimated 62 percent of teens report that their parents know little or nothing about their Web activities.” (http://da.lacounty.gov/pok/pokpredators.htm)
The online community is also a haven for criminals to blend in without being noticed. The different faces of an online predator can range from a stalker, online bully, hackers or even our own addictions. It’s limitless the way people can abuse the power of the internet combined with the open doors of websites. The amount of information we put up on our personal pages is more than enough for a stalker to know our habits, favorite movies, the residency, attending school and the list goes on. It’s a buffet for these stalkers and can easily be dangerously obsessed with someone.
These sites are not limited to only mature adults who can process that there can be consequences out there if the wrong information is given, young teens that are very impressionable can easily have a page and reveal their life to the world blindly. There’s a story on The New York Times about a 13 year old girl named Megan who committed suicide after talking to Josh, her MySpace boyfriend that she has never met personally who said to her, “The world would be a better place without you.” Josh is not real; he was created by Megan’s ex-best friend’s mother, Lori Drew, a family friend who lives down the street. This event alone should’ve somehow pushed the way social networking sites to change the way they admit people in to the community. Even to this day, signing up for a MySpace or a Facebook account is easy as long as you have an email account.
Social network sites themselves are also very vulnerable to hackers attacking their site like in 2006, MySpace was forced to “shut down hundreds of profile pages after a combination worm and phishing attack struck the site...” (http://www.technewsworld.com/story/54579.html) When the actual site is attacked, it means that the users’ information is also unsafe. A third party can use the information to gain access to accounts leading them to private information, a recipe for identity theft.
Probably the most common amongst teenager and young adults is that we are addicted to Facebook. It may be something that people just say to poke fun or exaggerate how much they go on these sites especially Facebook, because makes it so easy to navigate through your friends pages. “Although there are no statistics on "Facebook addiction" -- it isn't an actual medical diagnosis -- therapists say they're seeing more and more people who've crossed the line from social networking to social dysfunction.” (http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/23/ep.facebook.addict/index.html) Most of the articles I read on the addiction of SNS say that, “checking their MySpace or Facebook account has become an automatic and compulsive behaviour”. When searching on a search engine about ‘Facebook addiction’ a long list of “You know you’re addicted to Facebook if…, 10 signs you’re addicted to Facebook or How to quit Facebook” shows up. Clearly there are many people struggling with the addiction, we just haven’t seen it medically because it just showed up.
A new way that these social networking sites are affecting your private life is that there is a new trend going around for managers that are hiring to check potential employee’s profile pages. ”Twenty-two percent of employers say they use social networking sites when evaluating job candidates…” says Mike Hargis, Careerbuilder.com vice president of customer care. People are encouraged to keep their profiles ‘presentable’ to look professional. It’s ironic that the sites used to show the world their lives freely are being cornered to filter out the bad stuff. In a way, it’s killing the fun of social networking. There are sites like linkedin.com where they can update professionally but employers want to see their ‘true’ lifestyle.  
The social networking sites help us in many different way but the benefits like keeping in touch with a friend when you can do it through email or networking with people for business or even telling the world about what you’re eating at the moment does not compare to the potential danger that is waiting behind that pop up screen or the profile page disguised as some old friend you don’t remember. Even scarier, if you delete your account, it does not guarantee that you’re information is off the internet. Somewhere in someone else’s computer that has visited your site in the past can carry a cache memory of the information that it came across.
I have recently deleted my Facebook account. First, I’ve come to a conclusion that I was definitely addicted and after many years of updating statuses, writing notes, adding friends and uploading pictures I have realized that Facebook is actually deteriorating the quality of my friendships. The easy access to each others lives leaves us apathetic towards making an effort to grow the relationships. All good things come with hard work, even relationships. I only knew that my ‘friend’ was in another country because I saw pictures of her and a caption. Some of the articles I read suggested that it helps people become more social, after all it is called ‘social networking’ but I think we’re losing our social touch. Our generation is so used to fast and quick conversations limited to 140 words that we forgot how to have an actual conversation.

 

Work cited

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/28/social-networking-benefits-validated/

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/28/us/28hoax.html?_r=1

http://da.lacounty.gov/pok/pokpredators.htm

http://www.technewsworld.com/story/54579.html

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22705712-2,00.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/23/ep.facebook.addict/index.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Quit-Facebook

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/11/05/cb.social.networking/index.html

http://www.whoswatchingcharlottesville.org/social.html