Online social networking pros and cons both carry weight with parents, but all too often the cons outweigh the good things that come from online communication. To truly evaluate the value of online social networking, you must understand the pros and cons as they relate to you and your family.
Pro: You can use a social network to promote specific interests.
Specific or niche interests may be difficult to promote. If you love talking about your Ural motorcycle, for example, only a few people actually know what a Ural is or would appreciate your love and interest for the bike. An Internet social network can help you connect with other people who share your interest, and find resources to gather and share information.
Pro: An Internet social network can help you find like-minded individuals.
Some people simply find it hard to relate to the people around them. Internet social networks can help people find like-minded individuals and make connections. You may end up making valuable, lifelong friends who share your interests or think similarly about things through social networking tools.
Pro: Social networking provides a new tool to reach students and audiences.
Social networking provides another way for teachers to reach students, and for manufacturers and developers to reach audiences. The big problem in creating products and processes that work is getting feedback from the end user. Social networking makes it possible to get virtually instantaneous feedback, and determine whether you need to make changes to existing products and ideas. You can also use social networking as a way to reach people who don't respond to phone calls or mass mailings.
Con: It's far too easy for predators to find victims using online social networking.
Unfortunately, it's a fact of life that predators prey regularly on victims who use social networking Web sites. If you provide too much information online, predators can use that information to track you down or find a way to lure you in when you might otherwise not respond. Make sure to limit the personal information you share on social networks, and beware of people you don't know who want to meet in person.
Con: Online social networking can expose you to impersonation and legal repercussions.
There have been cases where people have used personal information gained through online social networks to impersonate others and even steal identities. Some of these cases have also involved hijacking account information and making people believe false or erroneous things about the person who truly owns the account. In rare cases, this sort of social networking situation has even lead to legal repercussions. Be cautious about the information you provide online, and make sure you're the only one using your online identity.
Con: Social networking promotes isolation and may lead to mental health issues.
While many people enjoy social networking because it enables them to get in touch with friends and classmates, being online also keeps people from going out and talking to others in person. While plenty of people interact via social networking tools, the isolation of being alone in a room with a computer is unhealthy, even when chatting online. Social networking time doesn't stand up to time spent interacting with friends in real life. It should never serve as a substitute, or it can lead to depression and loneliness.
There are many potential problems with social networking sites and the teenagers that use them. Social networking is a prominent tool for communication and self-expression for teens. While most of these experiences are positive, there are still steps parents and teens need to take to avoid harassment and sexual predators.
Social networking sites are a fun way for teens to communicate, but they can also ruin reputations or expose your child to danger. Make sure your child can follow these rules before opening the door to social networking sites.
Don't feel like a snoop when you're checking your child's use of social networking Web sites. Nothing posted on the Web is truly private, so you're free to investigate.