Latest statistics show that around 55% of youngsters aged between 12 and 17 have a social networking site. The three most common sites used today are FaceBook, MySpace and Bebo. FaceBook is a general social networking site used by those of all ages, while Bebo is generally used by a younger community. MySpace is a social networking site used by those interested in music, as just about all bands create a presence on MySpace to promote themselves.
Social networking sites are a great way to keep in touch with friends, as well as reconnect with old ones. The areas of concern for parents are around content and privacy. Let me explain further.
When it comes to content, as soon as anything is published on the internet, it is available for ANYONE to read. Likewise, any image uploaded to the internet becomes available for anyone to do as they wish with it. Therefore careful consideration needs to be given before uploading images. A simple rule of thumb would be: 'if you don't want your mom and dad to see the image, don't upload it!'.
Any images uploaded can be copied by others to do as they wish. By right clicking any image on the internet, you can 'save' that image. Others may also upload images of you on THEIR social networking site, and 'mark' or 'tag' your name to the image. In this way, the image will also appear on your site.
Privacy is important. When personal details are filled out on a social networking site, it is not necessary to fill in all the details. The basic information is sufficient. On FaceBook, for example, the privacy settings are open by default. It is important to review the settings, and close down those settings one wishes to secure. It is also possible to prevent others from 'tagging' photos with ones image in. This way, one can prevent others from uploading objectionable photos of oneself.
Keep in mind that it is now common practice for recruitment agencies and prospective employers to search out a prospective employee on social networking sites. this may provide them useful information on the social habits of the individual.