Social networking sites are online places where users are able to create a personal profile that enables them to stay connected with other users. These sites are used by people of all ages putting teenagers using them at risk. The leading social networking sites include MySpace, Facebook and Twitter with MySpace being in the lead when it comes to teens between the ages of 13 to 17 in the United States of America. Social networking sites use by teens poses a threat to the effectiveness of future employees or college students. There are numerous risks. However, identity theft among teenagers can be solved by the users learning how to maximize privacy settings or the government can introduce a law prohibiting minors from setting up social networking accounts.
Identify theft is an enormous problem in society and is largely a consequence of social networking sites because they are easy to access. There is also a lot of teenagers information available within these sites making identity theft not that hard. Identity thieves use an individual’s personal information to pretend to be them – often for financial gain. The information users post about themselves on social networks may make it possible for an identity thief to gather enough information to steal an identity. When teenagers go on Facebook or My space, they often write personal information on their profile page such as their age, address, email account and pictures (McCarty, Cheryl, Aimee, Derscheid, & Bette, 2010)
To help users learn how to maximize privacy settings. The social networks should ensure that the basic setting which their sites are run have comprehensive privacy protection, where an individual can choose who can see their profile access their information. Educating teenagers on the risks of using social networking sites could help prevent identity theft. Parents and schools can help teens learn about implementing privacy settings in social networking spaces such as MySpace and Facebook. For example, Facebook has the most personal privacy if you are fewer than 18; it is hard to access an account. Also, the social networking websites can help educate users on increasing security settings for their profiles.
The government can introduce a law prohibiting minors from setting up social networking accounts. The government has incanted privacy laws designed to protect minors in the past and with the increased risk to teenagers from networking sites they could determine a minimum age for users. For example, the government has passed health information privacy laws designed specifically to protect children.
Educating teenagers and the government laws are two ways to solve or minimize from identity theft among teenagers. In my opinion, this problem posed by the continued use of social by teens can be effectively controlled to enhance the effectiveness of tomorrow’s generation in interpersonal communication. The online services, which include the sharing of information and communicating with others through user-defined profiles, will serve as an enabler.
Research shows that more than half of all American online users, which is at 55 percent, most likely use social networking sites that are online. This is according to information provided by a national survey that focused on teenagers. The American Life Project and Pew Internet conducted this research. Furthermore, the survey established that older teenagers, especially girls, are usually most like to be found using the sites. Girls believe that the social sites provide them with a platform to reinforce the existing relationships. At the same time, boys who make use of the sites believe that they will find opportunities for making new friends and flirting (Lenhart & Madden, 2006).
According to teenagers, friendships are managed through the help of social networking sites. Teenagers use the various sites in an attempt to maintain their current and existing relationships. The other half of the teenagers use the sites to make new friends. It is believed that it is quite easy to keep regular touch with friends using the online sites than actually seeing the friends. There are even some instances when the teenagers use the social sites to engage in online socializing. This means that they coordinate and schedule events with their friends. There are extremely high levels of social networking sites among girls, but older boys use the sites to their advantage. They take advantage of the fact that many girls post beautiful photos and thus find ways of interacting with them. They visit these websites to be gain access to potential partners or even just people to hang out with (Lenhart & Madden, 2006).
There are quite a number of communication channels provided by social networking websites. This is regardless of whether a person is out or in the personal network of the user. Private messages are sent conveniently among the various users, but more public ways of sending messages still exist in a social networking space. The user just needs to post a message on the wall or page of a friend, or even send group messages or bulletins. In addition, they can post small icons, poke, and comment on their friend’s blogs, or engage in many other activities. It has been found out that posting messages on the walls or pages of a friend is the most common form of communication in social networking sites (Lenhart & Madden, 2006).
Social networking sites have provided a platform whereby businesses have expanded because of their popularity and innovation, for example My Space, Facebook and Twitter. It is easy for people with similar interests to come together in the various groups where they interact with each other while exchanging valuable ideas. This proves that teenagers can participate in positive things, which will improve their lives if they use the social networking sites in the correct manner (Obee, 2012).
More platforms should be provided to ensure that teenagers who use social networking sites are safe. This is also applicable to teenagers who might find themselves in social networking frauds. Sharing of information should be limited and communication should only be between people who know each other. In addition, parents as well as the government have a role to play to ensure that future users of social networking sites are informed about what they are involved in. Indeed, social networking sites have both negative and positive impacts on the teenage users.
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