There are many advantages that lay behind the use of social networking. Not only is it convenient but it also helps build and maintain relationships amongst friends and family. It is convenient in the sense that it is cost friendly (depending on how often you use it), easy to access and as technology is updated constantly there are new ways in which we are able to access information electronically.
Smart phones have become the most convenient cellphones across the world. We are able to send emails, browse the internet, chat, download applications and even chat within groups. There are certain social networks such as IM, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Mxit, Whatsapp. Blackberry Messenger and many more which allow us to interact with our friends and family confidentially aswell as publicly.
Behind all these advantages lay many dangers too, especially for the youth out there. The youth being very new to social networking, see it as a platform for freedom of expression in a public sphere. They are allowed to socialize with whom ever they wish in a cyber world.
For instance there are children ages 9-13 years old that are using Facebook without the awareness of their parents. As children are very naïve, they become possible victims of online sexual predators. Kids are easy to deceive and manipulate, and sadly this is the reason why we are faced with so many tragic stories about children being raped, kidnapped or sexually harassed because of social interactions with strangers or “deceivers” as we may call it.
According to Mail Online “sexual predators are increasingly using the internet to groom, befriend and lure young victims. In the UK for example, an ex-detective Mark Williams Thomas highlighted the dangers of children using social networking sites when he posed as a 14 year old girl and within minutes of the profile going live had been contacted by men aged between 20 and 40 seeking sexual gratification.”
There is a age gap between children and parents and this influences the understanding of technology. Majority of parents today are not well educated when it comes to technology, however since Blackberry cellphones have been in the picture, parents are slowly but surely becoming more and more aware of the social networking phenomenon.
Parents should be involved in the creation of their children’s online profile’s from the very beginning. In tern, this would prevent their children from making the wrong (naive) decisions when talking to strangers. Parents would thus be able to check up on their children’s profiles and guide them if they foresee any danger. Until their children have become adults, then only should they be allowed the freedom of social networking. Only then, would they be mature enough to judge who would be a threat online as opposed to friends and family.
Today however, we cannot always judge 100% as to who would be a threat online with fraud being another issue on these social networks. We should however stay open minded and always be cautious instead of being completely gullible and naive.