Social Networking Sites

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The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and etc. more than quadrupled from 2005 to 2009 (Pelgrin, 2005). Currently, Facebook alone has garnered over 900 million users as of May 2012 (Ziegler, 2012). This just proves how the vast majority nowadays is widely-using these sites. These sites allow users to develop profiles of their backgrounds and interests, communicate with friends and strangers, and share thoughts, photos, internet links, music, and more. Social media benefits adolescents by enhancing their communication skills and social connections. Social media sites and applications allow adolescents to make new friends, exchange ideas and pictures, develop new interests and experiment with new forms of self-expression. However, the detriments of these social networking sites far outweigh its benefits for these sites enable social isolation, privacy invasion, sexual advances, cyberbullying and distraction to its users. A social networking site can be a good way to make connections with people with similar interests and goals, according to the University of the Pacific website article (n.d.). They can be a way to connect with or "meet" people that a person may not have had the opportunity to before including friends of friends and distant relatives. Thanks to social networking sites, knowing someone has become a thing of the past. "Poking" has become the new handshake. Making friends and renewing old ones is easy. Thus, meeting people and staying connected with classmates and friends is a major benefit of social networking sites. Natural News website released an article about a new book called Alone Together by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Sherry Turkle (2011). Modern society seems convinced that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter keep them connected and thriving socially with their friends and peers. But the book by Turkle says otherwise, purporting that social networks are more like mutual isolation networks that detach people from meaningful interactions with one another and make them less human. "A behavior that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological," says Turkle in her book, referring to the near-total obsession with the digital world in today's society. She and others say that the online social world is destroying real communication, dumbing down society, and leading to a society of people that have no idea how to actually function in the real world. Turkle emphasizes her belief that more people need to put down their phones, turn off their computers, and learn to communicate with one another face-to-face. According to an article in Social Media Today website (2011), social media and social networks are a fantastic way to get people to express themselves whether it be via a Facebook status, writing on walls, Twitter updates, photos you share, these are all extensions of you and your personality. They help portray your interests, your views and help show people who you are. They offer a platform for you to be yourself, to be creative, to be who you want to be and most importantly, have an audience for all of this. Unlike in the real world, where social etiquette and manners can sometimes seem restrictive and limiting, people feel they have a greater sense of freedom of expression and/or of speech when using online networks. However, social networking invites users to step beyond the boundaries of electronic privacy and share the highlights and even mundane details of their daily lives. It would seem that most updates are innocent blasts of personal information. There is such a thing as being too open on social networks; this can result in a potentially damaged online reputation and even offline trouble for users. Home robberies have been blamed on Facebook status updates, as users’ personal data or tweet patterns indicate when they won’t be home. A recent segment on CNN discusses the...
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