Picture this. A mother tells her daughter that social networking sites are too dangerous for teenagers to use because the information her daughter puts up is too easily accessed by anyone, even a stranger. During this mother-daughter chat, Mum has her laptop running, and she’s logged on to MySpace.
Parents, especially of young teens, may worry how their child uses these social networking sites away from parental eyes. But these sites are not nearly as dangerous as what parents believe them to be. After all, you, too, have that window open on your computer often enough.
Identity theft from putting up private information is one of the major reasons some people worry about using social networking sites. It is true that more than 2,600 cases of missing and exploited children who became targets through social networking sites have been documented. However, that number has decreased dramatically since these sites created options to ensure privacy.
The most popular social networking site in Indonesia is Facebook. It has about 300 million active users worldwide. Facebook allows you to accept or not that someone can “see” you by adding them to your “friend’s” list. Once you accept a request, that person can see your profile, but it also allows you to “unfriend” at any time, and break the link. The site also allows you to delete certain items, if you don’t want them posted any longer.
These social networking sites provide features so you can keep your information as private as you wish. However, the true problem is not the application but how people choose to use it. Some users agree to friend complete strangers and make their profile public, even though it contains their name, birthday, even phone numbers, addresses and hobbies. If you don’t know how to keep your profile private, go ask your next door neighbor, one of your friends or family members or even your 50-year-old uncle, because they are all probably in Facebook too.
With one parental sore point out of the way, we can talk about another one. The older generation worries that the younger generation isn’t getting enough outdoor exercise because they’re always using the Internet. It may be true that young people are constantly updating their friends about what is going on. However, these websites are practical: People use them to arrange social meet ups. It may look like teenagers today are addicted to social networking sites, having accounts in more than three sites, but if this is what they use to release their stress, then parent should feel relieved, because it’s a much better habit than some.
People say there are certain things you can never buy with money and one of them is relationships.
Through social networking sites, not only teenagers but adults too are building meaningful relationships.
Yes, it is true that social networking sites do have their negatives. However, the disadvantages of social networking sites are outweighed by the many advantages they provide. The dangers come from choices we make using them. What these sites really offer up is nothing but friendship and love, which you will always remember. Admit it, it’s a good thing.
Sun Woo Chun
Grade 11, Jakarta International School