Social networking sites are designed to connect people online. These sites are very attractive to young people who want to meet people, keep in touch with friends, and share information about themselves, including photos, videos and messages. Because all this information is going onto the worldwide web, it is very important for young people and their parents to understand how these sites work and the benefits and risks associated with online social networking.

Social Networking Use

This current generation of young people, referred to as "Digital Natives", have grown up immersed in technology and interact with it in fundamentally different ways than earlier generations of young people (referred to as Digital Immigrants) (Tapscott, 1998; Palfrey and Gasser, 2008). Australian adolescents increasingly see technology as an essential part of their social life and interaction with peers (Campbell, 2005). 

Positive outcomes of Social Networking Use

Young people like to stay connected to their friends and find out about other people and their interests. Social networking sites play an important role in the communication and social support of young people’s daily lives. They use these sites to express their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Some young people also use these sites to showcase their talents, such as music, writing, video making and other performances. Social networking can provide an important platform through which young people who may struggle with communication in an offline context, can remain connected with their friends in an online and in some cases, less intimidating environment.

When used appropriately social networking can build learning communities where young people can share schoolwork, discuss schoolwork related challenges and share resources appropriate for their learning. In addition social networking assists young people to stay connected with the world around them. Many social issues are discussed and debated online which may allow young people to come in contact with opinions different to their own and provide them with the opportunity to think more deeply about ethical and moral debates. In many cases word news is more likely to find its way into social networking spaces well before it is reported in other media and many young people use their profiles feeds to keep them abreast of state, national and international breaking news. 

Relevant Reading

 You can read Marilyn Campbell’s article listed above by clicking here