Today, many teens participate in what is called "social networking" in which they communicate with people with similar interests and activities.
Most people have heard of Myspace. Another extremely popular online community is Facebook. Facebook calls itself, "A social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study, and live around them."
Facebook is the sixth most popular Web site in the United States. As of the summer of 2007, there are over thirty million users, with 150,000 new users signing up daily. One study shows that over 85 percent of college students use Facebook. Over half of Facebook users log in daily. What is it about Facebook that is so appealing to teens and young adults?
How does Facebook work?
On Facebook, users have their own profile to which they can add photos, write notes on others' wall (the section on the profile for comments), find and add friends, and join groups. When someone registers, they join a network, or multiple networks. Users can also create their own groups to connect to people with similar interests.
When someone logs in using their e-mail address and password, Facebook displays a customized home page that displays a News Feed – which contains the recent history of the user's friends and their actions.
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On Facebook, users can change their profile settings to create more privacy. There is the option of "hiding" a profile so that it does not show up in searches, as well making a profile only viewable to friends, or to people in their network.
Users can also make parts of their profile viewable to specific people in what is called a Limited Profile. Users can block someone completely with whom they do not want to have an association.
For the most part, Facebook can be a safe way to stay connected as long as teens take special care to control their privacy.
Here are some tips to follow while using Facebook:
- Use the privacy settings Facebook offers. The settings are there to keep you safe while still allowing you to connect with the people you want.
- Only make your profile viewable to your friends, not everyone in your network. There is no need for people you do not know who are in the same network to view your profile. If you are friends with someone, then they can see information about you.
- Don't post your last name; just use your last initial. People can search for you within a network, and if they know you, they will recognize you and do not need to see your last name.
- Do not post anything inappropriate on your own profile or on someone else's profile. Even if you use the privacy settings, it does not mean all of your friends do.
- Delete inappropriate comments or wall posts on your profile.
- Only accept or add people as friends that you know in person. Not everyone is the person they portray themselves as online.
- Do not post your address, phone number, or school schedule on your profile.
Many parents are concerned that their children spend too much time on the computer. As a rule, teens should finish their homework before going online or logging into Facebook – it can be very distracting and can interfere with schoolwork.
Just remember: Facebook can be safe if teens stay safe on the Internet and use their good judgment.
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Written By: Julia Ransohoff,
high school student writer
Reviewed By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last Reviewed: October 2013
Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Facebook.com, Official Web site.
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