|Written by Paul Scott|
|Thursday, 14 May 2009 10:31|
There are literally hundreds of social networking sites available across the globe; the most common ones used in the UK are Bebo, Facebook and Myspace these sites are designed for users aged 13 and above. Many children also build their own profiles on sites such as Piczo which has a specific area for under 13s.
Children, young people and adults use Social Networking Sites (SNS) for a variety of reasons. They can communicate and share information with friends, make new friends who have similar interests and develop professional relationships. Content can be uploaded to a personal area often known as a 'home page or profile page'; this can include images, video and sound. Most of the sites allow users to very quickly create their home page and allow easy updating of this page on the web or by mobile phone.
These sites are extremely popular but users need to be aware of the content they post on these sites, comments they make on other people's sites and who they have allowed access to their site.
Click here for a simple overview video explaining the concept of social networking from Youtube.
Some people can be quite obsessive with their social network site and spend hours a night updating them and looking at other people's profiles. When you join social networking sites you set up a personal profile about yourself but there is no way of ensuring that this data is accurate. For example nobody below the age of 13 is eligible to register for Facebook but there is no way of checking this accurately. As usual with any information on the Internet you need to question the source of the information before you start to believe it. That said, the majority of the people using Social networking sites are relatively young and are very candid with their images and information. There is still the possibility of communicating with somebody who is not who they say they are and the standard rules for online communication apply; never give out personal details such as phone numbers, email addresses, etc and never agree to meet someone you do not know face to face without discussing this with a parent first. If you feel offended by the content of any communications report the abuse on any systems that are available, log out and make an adult aware of your concerns.
To communicate directly with others and share your profile people have to accept friend requests similar to MSN. The communications between users is usually unfiltered and therefore can be of an adult nature and it would be quite easy for older people to be communicating with younger members on any topic. You can remove people from your friend's list and prevent them communicating to you or seeing your information if you wish. Unfortunately this may not stop people publishing information about you and there have been incidents of cyber bullying where people publish nasty comments and unflattering / edited images of people that they do not like even though this is not acceptable under the terms and conditions outlined when joining the site. When joining a social network site there is a user agreement that you have to accept which outlines the terms and conditions for using the site and it is well worth discussing this with children if they are eligible to join the site.
You need to remember if you publish an image / video to the web it can easily be copied and saved by users and it is almost impossible to prohibit this. Removing it from your profile / home page will not prevent people who have already copied it making it available to others. Some of these sites also offer the user a chance to record quite a lot of personal data that could easily be made available to all subscribers to that site if you check the wrong boxes including address and phone number. There have also been incidents where images of employees have been seen by employers or potential employers and the nature of the images have jeopardized their jobs. Be very careful about any comments you make with regard to other people, this may be very hurtful / damaging to that person and in some cases you could face criminal prosecution over the comments.
This short video from Youtube "Everyone know your name" is very useful to highlight the dangers of having a social network profile that is open access and makes children think about the content they publish
This short video from Youtube "Think before you post" is very useful to highlight the dangers of what happens to content that is published online and makes children think about what they publish.
This short video from Youtube "Vitrtual Global Taskforce - VGT" is very useful to help children understand that people they are communicating with in the virtual world may not be who they say they are.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 March 2010 17:14|