Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have exploded in recent years and young surfers in particular have become ardent fans of this dynamic and high-tech way to connect with the wider world around them, communicating with friends and hooking up with like-minded people. But as with everything in the virtual world, parents do need to understand how their children are interacting on social networking sites, and be sure their children know what to do if they have experience a bad or dangerous situation.
The definition of the social networking sites
Social networking is a way of connecting people in the virtual world. Social networking websites have exploded in recent years, and can be used to connect people in both a personal and professional context. Across the world there are now a huge number of public and private online social networks, with the best-known including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Facebook is one of the largest sites, with over 300 million registered users. The service of the social networking sites provide. Usually free to join and open to young people and adults (sites such as Facebook has a minimum age limit of 13 for registered users; MySpace's age restriction is 14) social networking sites allow registered members to set up personal profiles and then communicate with friends, and, if they choose, not personally known individuals who share their personal interests. A user will have their own home page, which details their personal details (age, location, marital status, for example) alongside a picture and other details about themselves - the music they like, their favourite movie, the football team they support, etc. They can then utilise their membership to send messages to friends, download games and applications, share photos and music downloads, and chat in real-time. Users can also join groups, publicise events and invite other users to attend, or start their own...