A Dangerous Open Window: Social Networking Sites - Assignment Example

Social networking sites are dangerous possibilities for adults and teenagers. There is a new terminology to learn and also new decisions to make. The actions possible to embrace yourself include online dating, illegal actions such as hacking, virtual shoplifting, piracy, fraud, and also cyber-bullying or cyber-stalking/harassment. These are the main reasons why developing minds should be monitored by adults who must set an example as well. Nevertheless, sometimes children are already involved in this type of activities leaving adults the task of recognizing it and dealing with it.

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Indeed, social networking sites are created to encourage communication and social skills, but they are also a different type of weapons. Social networking sites are places where both teenagers and adults can be caught up in dangerous situations. They are a risky open window. A window that every child wants to escape through when his parents say no to something they really want. There are plenty social networking sites to not know them all and there is a new way of writing and talking to each other as well.

Furthermore there are many activities to perform, and even though, these activities are created in order to promote communication and social skills, they are many times used to harm others. Included in these actions are chat rooms, online dating, sharing of personal information with friends and unknown people, and also are illegal actions that can be performed, such as piracy, fraud, virtual shoplifting, cyber bullying, and cyber stalking/harassment.

Because of these available actions it is necessary for adults to always control their children. Developing minds are more vulnerable to choosing the wrong path, due to peer pressure or bad example, and this it is the reason why parents need to be able to recognize when a teenager is under over exposure of social networking sites. They are attractive but dangerous online worlds that can lead to bad decision making including piracy, virtual shoplifting, fraud, online stalking, and consequently to bad results.

Terminology and Possible Dangerous Activities in Social Networking Sites There are many Social networking sites and it is difficult to understand if the right terminology is not acknowledged. What is more, it is necessary to pay careful attention to the activities that can be performed on these social networking sites. Teenagers tend to communicate with other people and sometimes with people that they just met on the web. Online dating is a big unsafe way of starting a relationship, and also it is a way to be deceived and harmed.

Nevertheless, teenagers and adults are also using social networking sites to perform illegal activities that embrace piracy, fraud, and virtual shoplifting. Many people download music without paying, and even though it does not seem like, it is piracy; it is stealing music. Social networking sites need to be comprehended and also the activities that can be done on them. Social networking sites are virtual places with a terminology that needs to be understood. Any website starts with a home page that will contain different links where you can click on and access a new page.

In most social networking sites there is a profile where people can include personal information to share with the rest of their friends or anyone on the network at that moment. Also, allows the navigation of other’s profiles as well, such as going from one web page or profile to another without restriction. In addition, these web sites usually include chat rooms, which once again, are shared by everybody online. Indeed, the named chat rooms exist as an entire new way of writing, with abbreviations and with “emoticons”, which are faces that show different emotions.

Furthermore, it exists as way to save all your conversations an updates “histories”. Even though, it all seems perfect and secure, it is not. It is also common to run into a “hacker”. According to Oxford English Dictionary it is a popular term for someone who accesses computer information either legally or illegally (2010). In addition to these terms, there are a few harmful online actions known as “cyber bullying” and “cyber stalking/harassment” which include sending hurtful texts or images, threatening messages or “repeated unwanted messages” (2010).

Furthermore, one of the scariest actions that teenagers are involved while on social networking site are the so called “E-dating”. Dating online it is a new way of meeting people that has not been yet approved as a safe way of starting a relationship. As Jessie Halladay, reporter of Courier Journal in Louisville Kentucky (2010) comments, “police warn that though it may seem like an easy way to connect, it also carries great risks, especially because the nature of the Internet lends itself to anonymity and false information.

It is extremely unsafe to meet someone who you do not trust and not one single relative or friend knows. However, a survey performed by John Walsh of Cox Communications and NCMEC showed teenagers answers about their activities in social networking sites and their communication with unfamiliar and unknown persons: 71% reported receiving messages online from someone they don’t know. 45% have been asked for personal information by someone they don’t know.

30% have considered meeting someone that they’ve only talked to online. 24% have actually met a person face-to-face they they’ve only spoken to over the Internet (9% of 13-15s; 22% of 16-17s)(Walsh, 2006). Along the same lines, teenagers and also adults are discovering new illegal activities potentiated by social networks. These illegal activities include piracy, fraud, and virtual shoplifting for example. Piracy is the term that encloses all illegal downloading of music, movies, video games, or software.

In 2001, The New York Times commented on the “seizure by law-enforcement agents of 129 computers in 27 U. S. cities, focusing largely on university campuses including Duke University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California” (Schwartz, 2001). This article shows the great number of young people who are already involved on piracy. Many students are not fully aware of the meaning of piracy, and many others are. Nowadays technology makes things easier and many people rather the fast and easy way to get what they want. Furthermore, fraud is another illegal activity that has every day a younger troop.

In 2002 Cole Bartiromo made about one million dollar in a fraudulent investment program scheme. Reporters state “Seventeen-year-old Cole Bartiromo, who lives with his parents in Mission Viejo, California, defrauded 1,000 investors through a web site and Internet bulletin board that promised guaranteed and risk-free investments”(Collier, 2010). Social networking sites allow all type of false information to be posted and shared with everyone. In addition, a new way of shoplifting arrived on a virtual scenario.

In February 2002 a teenager managed to connect a “fire wire” cable, connected to his I-Pod into a software well-known brand store and shoplift a software equivalent to five hundred dollars (Collier, 2010). The increase on illegal online activities has much to do with teenagers and the increase in their knowledge about them. Unfortunately, social networking sites not only are a way of communication and entertainment, but also an open window for illegal activities as well. There are many terms that adults and parents may not know but that in order to follow their children may be necessary to be learned.

Furthermore, not only how they do it is the more important question, but also the what. It is said that risky and illegal activities are already being executed by teenagers; activities that include online dating, piracy, fraud, and virtual shoplifting. Consequently, understanding social networking sites and their terminology is as important as the activities that can be completed in them. Social Networking Sites Dangers for a Teenager Social networking sites are very risky for teenagers to manipulate if they are not treated with extreme caution.

If it is on the web, everybody can see it. Currently, almost every teenager is involved on social networking sites, with purpose of communication and entertainment. Nevertheless, these sites can be unsecure while it comes to private information exposure. The overexposure of certain parts of a teenager’s private life can also lead to peer pressure and therefore bad decision making. Peer pressure consists on being influenced by our surroundings and deciding as others would decide when it comes to different issues, more specific, objectionable behaviors.

In addition, overexposure can also attract people with questionable intentions to try to embarrass or, physically or mentally harm the teenager. Social networking sites can be very unsafe when developing minds are influenced by peer pressure, popularity and more experienced people. It can lead to physical abuse, harassment, and mental consequences if not treated with prudence. There are many different things you can show and expose on social networking sites. Usually, on sites like MySpace or Facebook, teenagers create a profile, which includes their name, age, interests, status, and photos.

The level of exposure does not have a limit, and can easily be taken to an extreme, by including too much information, or by constantly updating the so called “status” and letting everybody online know where they are or what they are doing. The main purpose of these sites is to manifest and improve communication skills, with present friends, and with new friends, as Sharon Hurley Hall, certificate writer and editor of National Youth Agency in Leicester, UK, states “50% of teenagers also use the sites to make new friends” (Hall, 2010).

Consequently, there is a continuous risk of being deceived and meeting the wrong person. In addition, teenagers are able to be part of chat rooms and match dating groups. These sites also allow people to lie and young developing minds may be too inexperienced and naive to realized how they jeopardize their safety. Another factor that social networks can lead to is the risk of being exposed to peer pressure, which can influence teenagers and adults to act in ways they would not act in normal basis.

It is proved that most people act and behave the way their friends and family do. Same as your parents, you grow up with their beliefs and tendency behaviors; therefore, it is fare to say that the constant influence of friends and family can dictate a person’s character. Peer pressure occurs for people of every age, including young kids and adults. According to Charlotte Reznick, PhD, child-education psychologist, associate clinical professor of psychology at UCLA, and author of “adolescents define themselves more by their peer group than their family group” (Reznick, 2009).

The need of the teenager to “fit” or to be popular can lead to bad decision making towards dangerous issues such as, illegal substances, sexuality, fighting, shoplifting, or simple unacceptable behaviors. Young adults feel better when they fulfill others expectative, and we all know life is simpler while everybody is happy with you. Furthermore, even though when for adults it seems obvious the correct answer, many times, the necessity of the teenager of belonging and feeling part of a group sometimes is more important than family, school, or whatever people that loves them think about it.

It is also a vicious circle that never stops. Being part of a group and being popular increases your self-esteem, why would you want to ruin that by not doing what “everybody is doing”? Social networks put teenagers in a particular spot where everything is public, and there is no private life. The constant exposure of the teenager’s life can easily take them to a situation where they can be judge and, consequently, under peer pressure (Roberts, 2010). In addition to the above mentioned social and mental issues that social networks can carry, there is a great amount of harassment and online bullying exposure, as well.

As explained before, social networks allow you to post pictures, statements, and mass messaging. Several times these features of social networks can be bad used. It exists the possibility of people publicizing personal texts, e-mails, private pictures, and many other things that can be extremely embarrassing for someone. In September 2010, Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student committed suicide after a sex video of him and another man was posted in a social networking site.

The video was uploaded to a University web creating a huge controversy about Tyler’s sexuality, which resulted in this tragic event. Not only, private issues about a person were exposed but also, a big debate about gay rights was initiated (2010). What is more, these features can be used to threaten someone or to even take issues to the real life. There are cases of sexual and physical abuse after an online date arrangement. For example, a thirteen years old girl, Alicia Kozakiewicz, was captured and sexually and physically abused by a thirty eight years old man after meeting in a yahoo chat room.

Alicia, as any other teenager, never thought something like this could ever happen to her; however it did (Egan, 2007). Many other cases reaffirm the insecurity of social networking sites and how teenagers, as developing and young minds can be easily influenced and misled. Social networking sites allow you to communicate and introduce yourself to the world. It is possible to show yourself and also to be judge by your friends, family, and everybody in the web.

Furthermore, peer pressure is a consequence of overexposure and this one can lead to poor decision making. Also, social networking sites can permit people to post and show everything they want, making it possible to post uncomfortable texts, e-mails, or photos of anyone, directing teenagers to think of extreme and occasionally tragic solutions such as Tyler’s. As well as people trying to harm someone online, there exists the people who want to do it physically and the needed personal information is available for this to occur.

Concluding, social networking sites can be dangerous way of communication and entertainment with non written consequences such as peer pressure, online harassment, and potential physical abuse. Adults as Role Models and Mentors Parents play a severe important part in their kid’s social networking sites security. There are three main things to take care of it when teenagers are involved in these types of activities as adults and role models. Parents are guidelines, examples, mentors, role models, and they should be aware of the fact that their actions will influence and dictate teenagers’ behavior later in their lives.

In addition, they should inform and advice all their knowledge of social networking sites and consequently know how to recognize if their son or daughter is under online harassment or under over-exposure of social networks. Parents are the directors of teenagers’ lives, therefore, inform prevent and treat are their main duties. Parents are examples that kids follow without knowledge of it. We are all aware of phrases like “the apple does not fall far from the tree”, or “like father like son”, and these are just different ways to say that your kids will most likely do what you do.

Researchers have found that not only these statements are consequences of social factors, but also of biological factors. According to Karen Stephens, director of Illinois State University Child Care Center (2004), “scientists hypothesize that some children inherit a gene that pre-disposes them to low impulse control. ” What this means is that if an adult already suffers from an uncontrollable behavior, his kids may have the same behavior afterwards. Consequently, we can blame parents for their children attitudes from before they are even born. Also, there are social, or environmental, factors that affect teenager’s behaviors.

Cases of early domestic violence will may influence children to act in a violent way later in their life, as well as if adults smoke, most likely their kids will smoke too (Stephens, 2004). In addition, teenagers not only take bad and self-destructive habits from parents, so, for example, if parents send a clear message of how to deal with social networking sites, kids will be influenced by it. Parents as role models play an important part in their kids’ lives as they know it or not. Once that adults set a role model, teenagers also have the chance to argument and discuss that way of thinking.

Contrary to what parents sometimes say, many teenagers decide to act and think differently. It is hard to completely forbid people to do something, so sometimes there are other ways to protect your children from social networking sites, such as inform them and advice them. As Onguardonline. com (2007) states it is recommended to introduce all type of knowledge and fears to the teenager. Explaining how they are exposed, and how private information such as full name, address, social security number, and phone numbers, should be not public, in order to keep them secure.

Also, it is necessary for them to understand that everything that they post is available for everybody online. Social networking sites allow people to see pictures, status, and personal information of whoever decides to put it there. These tips mentioned above are indeed exceptionally important for parents to be continuously reminding to their children, as an NCSA/ NORTON Online safety study showed, “When we asked respondents who bears the most responsibility teaching children online safety habits, nearly 90 percent of Americans reported that it falls to parents.

Only seven percent think teachers and schools bear that main responsibility“(2010). Furthermore, it is necessary for parents to know when teenagers pass the line of over-exposure and fall into a dangerous online world. Social networking sites have gained immense popularity over the last decade, and sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Orkut, and many others became even trendier among teenagers. Adults cannot constantly be controlling their kids, nevertheless, there are symptoms that show when a teenager is in risk of online bullying, harassment, or simply too involved in social networking sites.

Social symptoms include a decrease in outdoor activities, decrease in contact with usual friends, decrease in school grades, and change in mood. At the same time, if a teenager is suffering from electronic harassment or over-exposure symptoms, can also be manifesting physical symptoms such as ringing in the ears, hearing voices, hallucinations, constant feeling of being “hunted”, sleep deprivation, anxiety attacks, headaches, thoughts of suicide, or depression (Safety Tips, 2010).

Social networking sites can be very dangerous for developing minds with lack of experience; consequently adults need to have extreme caution while their kids are involved in this type of online sites. Parents should be aware of the fact that they are admired and looked at by their children, as it is common knowledge. In addition, as mentors and role models, parents should inform and prevent of children over-exposing private information of them and their families, avoiding all type of online harassment, bullying, or other online dangerous consequence.

Not only preventing, but recognizing and dealing with symptoms of over-exposure to these social networking sites, are necessary skills that parents should know. Social networking sites can be harmful for teenagers as they get more involved every day, as a result, parents should be more careful and inform their kids about safety instructions and recognize symptoms of over-exposure to social networking sites. As mentioned before, social networking sites are promoting communication and social skills. However, they have been used for several other purposes.

Online dating has been used to meet people and harm them; hackers have used webs to commit fraud, piracy, and virtual shoplifting. In addition, children have been stalked, harassed, and put under extreme peer pressure. It is a window that leads to bad decision making, it is an escape of reality that also has unsafe situations people get caught up in. Parents play an important part in this game as mentors and guides who should avoid and recognize over-exposure of their kids. Social networking sites can be very unsecure if they are not used with caution and knowledge, as it is possible to harm and be harmed.

Reference

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39438381/

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