Upsides and downsides to: Facebook
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Upsides/downsides to Facebook:
The Pros and Cons of Facebook
Launched in February 2004, Facebook has recently announced that it has 1 billion active users worldwide1 (about 3 times the population of the United States!)
Although buried and eulogized many times over, Facebook’s popularity is still very much on the rise. Love it, hate it, there is absolutely no getting away from it. And it doesn’t look as if Facebook is going away in the near future.
So is it a good thing? How does it affect your kids? What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages? Here's a look at some of the many ways in which this ever popular social networking site affects your kids’ lives in some good, and some not-so-good ways.
- It’s easy! Setting up a profile is a smooth process, and the relatively uncluttered UI of the site is easy to navigate and use. It’s free and all you need is an internet connection and any device that can connect to the internet, mobile phones included.
- Beyond boundaries: Facebook transcends all physical boundaries, and lets your kids connect with far away friends and distant family. Your kids can easily be informed about what goes in the lives of people who are physically distant.
- Your child decides who to share with. Your child can choose who they would like to share their status updates, photos or check-ins with.
- A place to share thoughts, causes and ideas. Your child can interact with kids with similar interests and ideas across the globe. They can join groups and support fan pages, and find out what other kids are interested in.
- Enhances social skills. Facebook allows kids to keep up with current friends and make new ones. When used in the right way, social media can increase a child’s self-esteem and help them feel less isolated, as if they belong to a group. Facebook also allows those who are shy or have trouble making friends to socialize more easily. And let’s face it – everybody’s on it….
- It’s educational! A majority of tweens and teens use social networking to discuss school work and share discussions about school assignments.
- Privacy: Privacy is a major concern for most Facebook users, and it’s really important to understand the site’s privacy settings and set them accordingly. And even though a lot has been done to improve the site's security, it can still be confusing. As a result, hackers can have access to- and misuse- personal information.
- Time consuming Facebook is a real time guzzler – your kid could be playing outdoors, doing homework or doing other more meaningful things.
- Freedom of expression? Other kids (or even your own for that matter) on Facebook could misuse that freedom and post offensive or inappropriate content, which your kids will see! And this leads us to the next point:
- Kids can be mean:cyberbullying can be a real problem. There are even some documented cases of kids who committed suicide after being bullied on social networks!
- Things aren't always what they seem There are many fake Facebook accounts, information that is misrepresented – your child could be exposed to these.
- It’s addictive! Besides all the social features there are games on Facebook that can be very addictive. Did anyone mention Farmville?
- Whose image is it anyway? Once your child uploads an image to Facebook, it becomes public and anyone can download and misuse that image.
- Its anti-social? For your kids online interaction could become a replacement for face-to-face meetings. This can hurt social development and isolate your kids.
- It can hurt their future: kids can post regrettable information or photos that will be discovered by college admissions or potential employers in the future. Once information goes online, it never goes away.
So does the good outweigh the bad? It’s hard to tell. Either way you probably won’t be able to completely block your kids from using it. So it’s important to remember that if your kids are on Facebook, they should be aware of the dangers, and they should take steps to protect themselves, such as adjusting the privacy settings. It’s your job as a parent to explain the dangers and help them protect themselves, but also to be there for them, to listen and help, if they experience something that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared.