During the last few years the use of social networking has grown exponentially in the world. Social networking has many different purposes including interpersonal connection, education, research and business. Users include all sectors of the population, from young teenagers to the elderly, in all socioeconomic groups. According to government statistics, there are more than 500 million users on Facebook, 175 million on Twitter, and more than 100 million on MySpace. (McDowell 1) Although social networking can be very beneficial in many ways; it can also be very dangerous. Social networking sites have not completely eliminated all the risks. The risks include harm to your personal safety as well as your professional and business world. Participation in social networking can also lead to attacks: financial attacks as well as attacks on computer hardware.
One of the risks of social networking is that it can cause harm to your personal safety. Personal information can be leaked, or simply posted online, and could possibly fall into the hands of someone dangerous. Information such as addresses and other personal information are provided on personal pages; and hackers could retrieve this information. The dangers of social networking include serious physical harm or even death. This is evidenced by the case of a 17-year-old girl from Rhode Island who was drugged and raped by three men she met on MySpace. (Fleming, 28) In another case, a 13-year-old girl from Texas was sexually assaulted after she met one of her friends from MySpace in a parking lot. Her parents tried to sue MySpace for negligence, as their daughter had lied about her age. However, the case was dismissed because the Judge ruled that her parents, not MySpace, had a duty to protect her. (Fleming, 28)
These types of risk are much higher with teenagers. Teenagers are often naive to the dangers of the world, and have a desire to appear older then they are. “Kids can become targets or perpetrators in a medium that offers the illusion of anonymity and very often the absence of adult supervision.”(Dillon, 16) Although risk of physical molestation and other extreme risks are the least likely, these terrible things can still occur. Magid and Collier say that a “big part of the battle is not so much protecting kids against attack but against their own judgment.” (114-115)
Cyber bullying and harassment are very common on the Internet. Online bullying includes taunting, spreading lies, starting rumors, and other activities. Typically, kids that engage in this are the most vulnerable because they are looking for attention and are easily manipulated. (Dillon, 16) Cyber bullying can be deadly as evidenced by the death of Ryan Halligan, a 13-year old from Vermont. He committed suicide after years of online harassment about his sexual orientation. (Dillon, 16) In another case, an eighth grader committed suicide after a friend’s mother bullied her online by posing as a boyfriend. The adult...