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A Dangerous Open Window: Social Networking Sites

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Social networking sites are dangerous possibilities for adults and teenagers. There is a new terminology to learn and also new decisions to make. The actions possible to embrace yourself include online dating, illegal actions such as hacking, virtual shoplifting, piracy, fraud, and also cyber-bullying or cyber-stalking/harassment. These are the main reasons why developing minds should be monitored by adults who must set an example as well. Nevertheless, sometimes children are already involved in this type of activities leaving adults the task of recognizing it and dealing with it. Indeed, social networking sites are created to encourage communication and social skills, but they are also a different type of weapons.

Social networking sites are places where both teenagers and adults can be caught up in dangerous situations. They are a risky open window. A window that every child wants to escape through when his parents say no to something they really want. There are plenty social networking sites to not know them all and there is a new way of writing and talking to each other as well. Furthermore there are many activities to perform, and even though, these activities are created in order to promote communication and social skills, they are many times used to harm others.

Included in these actions are chat rooms, online dating, sharing of personal information with friends and unknown people, and also are illegal actions that can be performed, such as piracy, fraud, virtual shoplifting, cyber bullying, and cyber stalking/harassment. Because of these available actions it is necessary for adults to always control their children. Developing minds are more vulnerable to choosing the wrong path, due to peer pressure or bad example, and this it is the reason why parents need to be able to recognize when a teenager is under over exposure of social networking sites. They are attractive but dangerous online worlds that can lead to bad decision making including piracy, virtual shoplifting, fraud, online stalking, and consequently to bad results.

Terminology and Possible Dangerous Activities in Social Networking Sites

There are many Social networking sites and it is difficult to understand if the right terminology is not acknowledged. What is more, it is necessary to pay careful attention to the activities that can be performed on these social networking sites. Teenagers tend to communicate with other people and sometimes with people that they just met on the web. Online dating is a big unsafe way of starting a relationship, and also it is a way to be deceived and harmed. Nevertheless, teenagers and adults are also using social networking sites to perform illegal activities that embrace piracy, fraud, and virtual shoplifting. Many people download music without paying, and even though it does not seem like, it is piracy; it is stealing music. Social networking sites need to be comprehended and also the activities that can be done on them.

Social networking sites are virtual places with a terminology that needs to be understood. Any website starts with a home page that will contain different links where you can click on and access a new page. In most social networking sites there is a profile where people can include personal information to share with the rest of their friends or anyone on the network at that moment. Also, allows the navigation of other's profiles as well, such as going from one web page or profile to another without restriction. In addition, these web sites usually include chat rooms, which once again, are shared by everybody online. Indeed, the named chat rooms exist as an entire new way of writing, with abbreviations and with "emoticons", which are faces that show different emotions. Furthermore, it exists as way to save all your conversations an updates "histories". Even though, it all seems perfect and secure, it is not. It is also common to run into a "hacker". According to Oxford English Dictionary it is a popular term for someone who accesses computer information either legally or illegally (2010). In addition to these terms, there are a few harmful online actions known as "cyber bullying" and "cyber stalking/harassment" which include sending hurtful texts or images, threatening messages or "repeated unwanted messages" (2010).

Furthermore, one of the scariest actions that teenagers are involved while on social networking site are the so called "E-dating". Dating online it is a new way of meeting people that has not been yet approved as a safe way of starting a relationship. As Jessie Halladay, reporter of Courier Journal in Louisville Kentucky (2010) comments, "police warn that though it may seem like an easy way to connect, it also carries great risks, especially because the nature of the Internet lends itself to anonymity and false information." It is extremely unsafe to meet someone who you do not trust and not one single relative or friend knows. However, a survey performed by John Walsh of Cox Communications and NCMEC showed teenagers answers about their activities in social networking sites and their communication with unfamiliar and unknown persons:

71% reported receiving messages online from someone they don't know. 45% have been asked for personal information by someone they don't know. 30% have considered meeting someone that they've only talked to online. 14% have actually met a person face-to-face they they've only spoken to over the Internet (9% of 13-15s; 22% of 16-17s)(Walsh, 2006).

Along the same lines, teenagers and also adults are discovering new illegal activities potentiated by social networks. These illegal activities include piracy, fraud, and virtual shoplifting for example. Piracy is the term that encloses all illegal downloading of music, movies, video games, or software. In 2001, The New York Times commented on the "seizure by law-enforcement agents of 129 computers in 27 U.S. cities, focusing largely on university campuses including Duke University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California" (Schwartz, 2001). This article shows the great number of young people who are already involved on piracy. Many students are not fully aware of the meaning of piracy, and many others are. Nowadays technology makes things easier and many people rather the fast and easy way to get what they want.

Furthermore, fraud is another illegal activity that has every day a younger troop. In 2002 Cole Bartiromo made about one million dollar in a fraudulent investment program scheme. Reporters state "Seventeen-year-old Cole Bartiromo, who lives with his parents in Mission Viejo, California, defrauded 1,000 investors through a web site and Internet bulletin



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