Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Social Networking: Beneficial, or Not?

So, there's been a lot of talk about social networking sites lately. There's Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and so on, and so forth. True, social networking is a great tool to put to use when you want to reconnect with old friends, classmates, family members, etcetera. I have found Facebook to be extremely beneficial in those aspects. I have found family members that I didn't even know existed! On the other hand, there are the downs of Social Networking. Social Networking is being blamed for the disappearances, rapes, and murders of several adults and children. I even watched a video on Facebook of a young woman, clad in a two piece bikini that held the striking resemblance of a barbie doll. The video goes on to show several slides of her, then it gives an explanation that she turned down a random guy's invitation to meet up. The guy alledgedly got information that she voluntarily put on her profile, which included her personal address and phone number. He showed up at her doorstep, then the video goes on to show slides of her laying in blood. She had been murdered.

I have to be honest, I don't know just how true the video is; it may have been a hoax, but there is a striking reality about the punchline of the video. Somewhere, it has happened. There are pedophiles that seek out the pages of young children, who really don't know any better to not put their personal information on the web. They put their phone numbers on there so their friends can have access to it, but they have no idea the dangers of this. Pedophiles get the information, and they are meeting up with these children. The show, To Catch A Predator, proves this sickening truth. So what can be done? Is there anything?

Of course! Plain and simple: stop putting your personal information on your personal profiles. Giving the benefit of the doubt to some, there are people that don't understand that if you put your address, place of employment, of phone number on the profile, it can be seen by many. I have had some notifications to come to my profile that looks like this: "Jane Doe has changed their number to (555)555-5555.So yes, your friends get notifications when you change your personal information.

There have also been people upset about current employers, or possible future employers looking them up on social networking sites, and finding out information. Many people have even been fired for pictures, and information on their own personal profile. Well, this goes back to NOT putting your personal information out there. Make up an alias. On my Twitter account, my name could be Riding Hood.(Just an example) There is no way in the world that an employer will know to look for me by that name. Yes, you can have the freedom to post whatever you want, and put whatever pictures you want without the dangers of employees finding out.

The situation with the children may not be as easy. Parents are nowadays allowing their children to get profiles on social networking sites. Yes, adding them as friends is ok, because it does let you keep up with their every move......on their Facebook wall, pictures, comments, etcetera, but what's going on inside of their inboxes? Face it: kids are smart. They could give you the password to one account, and be using another one that they made up. So, one solution to this is to make sure that you are talking with your kids about the ins and outs of social networking sites, and please let them know the dangers. Take time out to show them a few episodes of To Catch A Predator. Look up some information on the web about children that are abducted as a result of these sites with your children. Yes, it may cause fears, tears, and a a few nightmares, but hey...ever heard of, "Scared Straight"? It may even make them NOT want to get a profile.

Know what you are doing on these sites. Always be aware that your personal information is going out to everybody that looks at it, all across the nation. Make all of your profiles private, and only add people that you can trust. Only use these sites for the good, while looking out for the bad.