Social networking refers to a broad class of web sites and services that allow you to connect with friends, family, and colleagues online, as well as meet online people with similar interests or hobbies.

Problems which may arise

There are a number of problems which can arise from the use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Digg, Bebo etc. There is nothing wrong with social networks as such, but the way people use them can lead to problems, which reflect they way IT in general can be used abusively.

Cyberbullying - because people have access to individuals through the social networking site they may use this access for cyber bullying.

Social network sites may be used by those who wish to exploit or abuse young people, contact with others is easy using these sites and it is difficult for a young person to know with whom they are interacting.

Sites may be used to slander other people - this has happened to tutors as well as teenagers. Their students may make disparaging or abusive comments about them which damage their reputation as teachers.

Users of social networks usually set up a personal profile which if left on public access may give personal details to those who steal identities.

Finally users of social networks have not in the past been fully aware that the sites are searchable. There are documented cases of employers looking on these sites to assess candidates. Overly frank discussions of wild behaviour can cause employers to think again about employing people.

Last modified: Thursday, 15 January 2009, 2:12 PM