The effects of social networking sites on Teens
In the UK Facebook is the number one social networking site with Bebo, MySpace and Twitter lying in its shadow. Incredibly, these sites combined are enough to make up the Facebook user community. MySpace remains popular with young adults; it is said to reach around 30% of those aged between 15-24. It has been suggested that it’s as common to have a MySpace account in the UK as it is to own a dog.
With the increase in popularity and use of social networking sites amongst the younger generations there too are concerns about safety and what these sites might expose to teens. Online predators, cyberbullies and peer pressure are to name a few. In addition to this, there are fears about teen’s futures regarding university enrolments and jobs possibilities being compromised due to past personal profiles and online posts.
A study in the US examined the content of public MySpace profiles and found that 54% of young adults frequently display high-risk activities including sexual behaviour, substance abuse or violence. The researchers of the study noted that these online displays of risky behaviour could just be displays and may be showing intention or considered behaviour. If so, there may be an opportunity to influence and educate those partaking in risky behaviours. A second study took this opportunity and aimed to reduce online displays of risky behaviour. Research fellow Megan A. Moreno created an online profile “Dr. Meg” showing her professional credentials and research interests. Moreno sent an email to all the public profiles used in the first study providing basic information about the risky nature of disclosing personal information online as well as a link to a website about sexual health. Three months later, a total of 42% of subjects took at least one of three protective measures against their profiles: a decreased reference to their sexual behaviour or substance use or profile security settings...