by: Christina Botto
It all began with MySpace . . .
The MySpace phenomenon began in 2003, when an Internet visionary named Tom Anderson reclaimed the moribund myspace.com domain.
Prior to Anderson’s initiative, myspace.com was a file-sharing forum. The original web site had to be disbanded in 2001 due to a lack of general consumer interest.
Anderson's vision of MySpace as a place where kids could network and form their own communities manifested itself in a huge way.
MySpace started a trend.
More popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have since emerged, along with special interest sites - such as the gaming sites "Games.com" and "Pogo.com", and sites especially for teens like "GirlSense" and "myYearbook".
The list is growing every day.
Why Teens like social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube
Social networking sites support a number of different media. Teens can use these sites to chat, play games, post and browse through photos and videos, blog, and post an online profile.
Social media is a two-way conversation that allows teens to stay “connected or linked to other sites, resources, and friends.” The key words for teenagers being “stay connected.”
Do these technologies make us more isolated, or are there benefits associated with being connected to others this way?
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project decided to examine social networking sites in a survey, “Social Networking Sites and Our Lives”, that explored people’s overall social networks and how the use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, support, and community and political engagement.
A brief overview of their Summary of Findings:
The number of those using social networking sites has nearly doubled since 2008, and the population of social networking sites users has gotten older.
Facebook users are more trusting that others, have more close relationships, get more social support than other people, and are more politically engaged that most people.
Social networking sites are increasingly used to keep up with close social ties, and MySpace users are more likely to be open to opposing points of view.
Facebook dominates the social networking sites in this survey.
How you can help your teen to use social networking sites more safely
It is very important that parents look at their teen's profile, friends, and postings.
A MySpace or Facebook page reveals a tremendous amount of information about your teen’s personality and interests. By looking at your teen's page, you will find out how your teen acts and interacts with his or her peers.
It will give you a chance to comment on your teenager's creativity or to catch potential problems your teen might be facing, including sexual behavior, substance abuse, or violence.
Tips for Parents:
- Talk with your teen about the long-term impact of their profile and postings.
- Discuss what information can be shared online – and what is not appropriate to share.
- Encourage your teen to tell you if something they encounter on one of these sites makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened.
- Look for any information in your teen's profile or postings that could be used to identify him or her.
- Ask your teen to help you set up a Facebook page, profile, or timeline.
- Consult the Facebook Safety Center for specific safety information and tools
Some kids forget, or don't seem to care, that their web pages can be viewed by anyone with access to the Internet.
Their information, opinions, and complains remain online, and can come back to haunt your child, since college administrators and employers increasingly look at these sites.
While social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube are generally safe and PG rated, some of the information teens post on their pages does make them susceptible to phishing scams, cyber bullying, and Internet predators.
In many ways, social networking sites are a mixed blessing for teens. They provide new ways to interact with peers and experience media, but they also open teens up to potential threats.
If your teen refuses to abide by the safety rules you have set to protect their and your safety, you can contact the social web site your teen uses directly, and ask them to remove your teen's profile and postings.
About The Author
Christina Botto is the author of Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents That Works. She has also recently published a 3 volume series dealing with some of the biggest problems faced by parents with teens.
To learn more about monitoring your teenager's activities and strategies to bring you and your teen closer together – and put an end to the frustration and madness of a dysfunctional parent-teen relationship, pick up your copy of Christina's Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents That Works today.
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