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Social Networking safely

Social networking has revolutionised the way we communicate with each other. It has to be said that millions of people worldwide have felt the benefit of this relatively new phenomenon.

But there are downsides to this rather faceless form of communication. And that’s the exact problem. No faces! You could technically be talking to anyone (or anything) and they can tell you they are whoever they want to be.

With the growth of chat rooms in recent years, kids, teenagers and adults alike were warned of the dangerous predators out there. It was an easy way for these predators to find vulnerable people and lure them into a false sense of security.

Now with social networks like Facebook, and MySpace gaining more and popularity, a list of rules should be followed when using them for people’s safety.

Children and Social Networking:

One thing I’ve noticed is that a large amount of very young kids have got accounts on social networks. This is just wrong! Yes their parents may say that they are being monitored but the fact of the matter is no one is going to know what’s going on 24 hours a day and they could be talking to any sort of a paedophile or general weirdo. Most social network sites have a minimum age limit so that young children cannot make profiles. However, it is easy to fool these systems. If children under the age of 13 use one of these sites it’s generally deemed as illegal. But if they insist and you feel they are old enough, make sure they don’t disclose any personal information that could allow people to pretend they are the same age and into the same things as they are.

According to a recent survey of 1,247 14-to-24 year olds, 50% have experienced some form of digital abuse, including spreading lies, violation of trust, and digital disrespect. Another astounding finding of that survey is that 76% say digital abuse is a serious problem for people their age. It looks as if social networking may be just another way for children and teenagers to get bullied, and this cyber-bullying becoming a massive problem.

One of the most prevalent stories of just how bad things can get was of Phoebe Prince, the Irish girl who moved to America and was the victim of face to face bulling and cyber-bullying. She eventually committed suicide over the ordeal.

It’s not just children who need to be vigilant when using these sites. Adults need to be careful too, here’s a list of some ways to keep yourself safe on social networking sites.

1: Never post your full name.

2:Don’t post your phone number or address.

3: Type the address of your social networking site directly into your browser or use your personal bookmarks. If you click a link to your site through email or another website, you might be entering your account name and password into a fake site where your personal information could be stolen.

4: Be selective about who you accept as a friend on a social network. Identity thieves might create fake profiles in order to get information from you.

5: Assume that everything you put on a social networking site is permanent. Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily print photos or text or save images and videos to a computer.

6: Type the address of your social networking site directly into your browser or use your personal bookmarks. If you click a link to your site through email or another website, you might be entering your account name and password into a fake site where your personal information could be stolen.

And finally, not just for your safety but for your privacy and happiness too: When you’re looking for a new job, ensure that your page is either private, or any embarrassing pictures or posts of yourself are gone. You may think it’s hilarious to see pictures of yourself sun burnt, drunk and topless in Ibiza, but a potential employer may not see the funny side!

Written by: Katie Kelly

Proofed by:  Dara O’Conor

Uploaded by: Emma Duggan

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