Dangers of Social Network Websites!
Bullying and harassment posts are just a few of the dangers.
It is undeniable that social networks are a lot of fun and a very powerful tool in everyday life for many, especially for culture, political change and even disaster relief, but even these can be overshadowed by the dangers that lurk beneath.
Usually free to join and open to young people and adults (sites such as Facebook and Twitter have a minimum age limit of 13 for registered users; Google+ restriction is 13, but different for South Korea, Spain and Netherlands) social networking sites allow registered members to set up personal profiles and then communicate with friends.
Social Networking websites have become very popular and are a virtual connection for friends and making friends. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter provide a place for people of all ages to meet, add friends to their profiles as well as adding photos, videos and messages. Those most at risk are children under the age of 18, with estimates of one in three Facebook users alone meeting strangers they have befriended online.
You can never make social networks `safe` you can only make them safer.
In this age group a majority seem to feel it is a competition to add "friends" that they do not even know. Some can have thousands of so called friends, and only know around a hundred of them. This being the case, do they really know who these "friends" are, or the dangers they could pose?
The Main Risks:
- Cyber-Bullying (bullying using digital technology)
- Cyber-Stalking (use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass)
- Inappropriate content (sex, violence and illegal behaviour are some)
- Online grooming (Lower person's inhibitions in preparation for sexual activity)
- Identity theft (Stealing your personal details to obtain credit and other benefits in your name)
Think before you post!
The first main thing to remember is once information is posted to a social networking site, it is no longer private. The more information you post, the more vulnerable you become. Peer pressure leads to those mainly under 18 doing things, or posting things on social network websites that they wouldn't normally do, and disclose more information about themselves than is wise.
Think carefully about the information you post. Would you be comfortable with your teacher, uni lecturer, employer, parents or a police officer reading the information you post?
Bullying is not fun.
Cyber-bullying is one of the main risks of social network websites. Cyber-bullying is when a person or even a group of people use the internet or other forms of digital technology like mobile phones to threaten, upset or humiliate someone else. Through research, this is a bigger problem than first thought, some people do not at first even realise that they are being harassed or bullied. A vast majority of those that are, simply reply and fall into the same trap doing exactly the same thing, again not realising that it is cyber-bullying.
Comments added to someones social network page, can have comments added by "friends" that can suddenly turn nasty and abusive. Always remember that not everyone will agree with your views, and wording things in a better way may save a lot of abuse, or better still not posting the comments at all.
If you are a victim of cyber-bullying please remember to keep a copy of any abusive texts, emails, comments or messages that you receive and keep a record of the date and time they were sent. With cyber-bullying there will always be a trail, so keeping records will be very helpful if it comes time to report the bullying.
Try not to reply to any messages you receive. It can encourage the bullies and end up upsetting you more, and may make matters a lot worse. If they know they are getting to you they will do it more.
Those being bullied usually react in one of two ways, they either don't react to the bullying, and just hope it will stop, or they decide to "stand up for themselves" and also become a bully without realising it. This then leads to more bullying and problems. Remember, you might have to be the bigger person and back off and stop posting or texting abusive or offensive stuff. It is too easy to carry on abusing each other backwards and forwards. No one wins. If you have to, block and delete the person from Facebook, twitter, Skype, phone contact, or however you are communicating.
DON’T SIT THERE WAITING FOR THE OTHER PERSONS OFFENSIVE OR ABUSIVE MESSAGE, IT'S A WASTE OF YOUR VALUABLE TIME AND EFFORT, IF YOU ARE BEING ABUSED IN ANY WAY, BLOCK, DELETE OR REMOVE THE PERSON AND REPORT THEM.
Online grooming of children is still on the rise, although the shift seems to be to abuse them online rather than risk meeting them. Online sexual abuse is commonly conducted via webcams, instant messenger applications and social networking sites. Some offenders will trick victims into giving them online passwords for things like social network websites before threatening them into engaging in sexual activities via webcam, in return for the accounts back.
Parents and guardians need to be aware that offenders will trawl not only social network websites but also chat rooms and games sites. Children need to be taught that not everyone online is who they say they are and warned of the dangers.
Don't just leave it to chance, get involved.
While the risk of adult predators preying on teenagers is relatively small, parents and guardians should take the time to understand computer and internet use, and how their children use them. There are various ways to keep your children safe, not just on social network sites, but using the internet in general.
We think that the best and most effective method is to talk to your children and educate them in safe use of the internet and social network websites. If you don't understand computers and the internet you should spend some time finding out the basics, and how they work. Quite a few people recommend privacy software, and although this is a good recommendation, you don't want to go and block social network websites from your children as it could only encourage them to lie to you and possibly isolate them from their friends.
Show interest in your children’s use of the internet, you could even say you are interested in finding out how to use one of these social network websites to get involved and gain trust. You should also have the family computer in your main room where the family gather so you can be there for any questions, or to see if there is any odd behaviour. Remember not to bully, or be forceful as this will not gain you any trust at all.
Kerry, aged 15
3,592 are strangers
114 male strangers over 30
11 have asked to meet
23 have bullied her
Emily, aged 14
239 are strangers
67 male strangers over 30
39 have asked to meet
28 have bullied her
Theresa, aged 14
623 are strangers
12 male strangers over 30
2 have asked to meet
11 have bullied her
Would anyone in the right mind think the above statistics are OK? This is not the fault of Facebook or even other social network websites but of those using the service and the parents and guardians.