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Counterpoint: Social Networking Websites Isolate People and Put Them at... Sexton, Jennifer, English, Marlanda, Points of View: Social Networking Sites,... Title:
Title:
Counterpoint: Social Networking Websites Isolate People and Put Them at Risk of Predation. By:
Sexton, Jennifer, English, Marlanda, Points of View: Social Networking Sites, 2015
Database:
Points of View Reference Center
Counterpoint: Social Networking Websites Isolate People and put them
at Risk of Predation.
Contents
Thesis: Social networking web sites may cause people to isolate, removing them from natural social
situations and marooning them in front of computer monitors where they are barraged with advertising and
possibly stalked by anonymous online predators. Social networking has also been shown to delay the
growth of interpersonal skills in teens. This can result in later difficulty in creating and maintaining real
relationships.
Summary: The rise of social networking web sites in today's culture is an unhealthy trend which encourages
already sedentary people to sit at computer screens in their free hours, typing away in a modern-day version
of imaginary friendships, rather than socializing in person. Social websites can also expose children and
teenagers to excessive advertisements and the danger of online predators.
A Questionable Form of Friendship
Millions of young people and adults spend time on social networking web sites every day. An estimated 45
million users under the age of eighteen use these sites to build personal profile pages, often including
photos of themselves, friends and personal information, despite parental warnings. While an objective
observer might see a solitary person alone at a keyboard, the young user of a social networking web site
would be more likely to describe the time spent on these sites as "hanging out with my friends."
There can be hidden dangers in dealing with people you do not know personally. Online friends have the
ability to create their own personal profiles with photos, ages, names, and information that might bear little or
no resemblance to the person who is actually posting the information, despite the web sites' efforts to protect
their young users from fraud and misuse of the site. Despite rules, on social networking sites there is no way
of knowing with 100 percent certainty who is on the other end of the computer. Anonymity online can cause
people to engage in cyberbullying or other anti-social behavior because of limited fear of being caught or
identified. As a result, some schools are publishing social networking policies to avoid conflict among
students and embarrassment for the institutions.
Adults using social networking sites prefer to call it professional networking for business purposes. However,
some individuals on professional sites have been found to engage in computer fraud, disparagement of
employers or co-workers, or misuse of private information. Some who have profiles on these sites have
opted to keep their contact list private for security reasons. This has led some to fear the rise of exclusive
networks which shut out others, instead of making information and opportunity available online.
Our Friends, the Advertisements
One group that can be relied upon to interact with all users of online networking sites are the advertisers.
MySpace is the leader in popularity among social networking sites and does not allow spyware, which is
software that monitors a user's online activity and uses the information gathered to fill the screen with popup ads for products similar to what the user has already viewed online. MySpace does not allow pop-up ads
at all. However, the site does use a hypertargeting advertising strategy. All personal profiles are scanned
continuously for certain keywords, and banner advertising is inserted accordingly. For example, if a teen on
MySpace mentions a love of pizza, action movies, or guitars, a carefully chosen banner ad will pop up that
user's computer.
Many industry watchers are unsure of the direction of social networking. While it remains incredibly popular
with consumers, corporate America is only recently looking at social networking sites to promote business.
Small business owners seem less reluctant to use this vehicle. MySpace was purchased in 2005 by News
Corporation's Fox Interactive Media Group for $580 billion. By early 2008, MySpace had over 110 million
users and boasts 10 billion friend relationships online. By mid-2008 MySpace was in danger of being
overtaken by Facebook in numbers of users online as Facebook raced to reach global users. Meanwhile, 54
percent of social networking revenue is made up of MySpace ads. Social networking sites are looking to
expand into the areas of mobile devices to increase growth in advertising revenue and income from mobile
applications. An estimated 10 percent of all ads viewed online are viewed on MySpace. These sites were
not created out of an altruistic motive to provide teens and adults with a place to socialize online. They were
created for profit. The parents of many teens have no idea that their children are spending vast amounts of
time with these invasive advertising tools.
An Online Hunting Ground
Unfortunately, sites like MySpace can be irresistible to online predators. Some predators have an objective
of enticing young people into sending inappropriate web-cam photos of themselves or to engage in sexually
explicit online conversation. Others try to persuade potential victims to meet in real life. There are thousands
of people trawling the profile photos on social networking sites in search of the young and naïve. Parental
warnings and guidance can't change the fact that teens may lack the worldly experience and mature
judgment needed to negotiate the Internet safely when approached by an intriguing-sounding friend online,
especially when, despite the social networking sites' safety precautions, it is still relatively easy to
misrepresent oneself in a personal profile. Young men and women often place their trust and reveal
personal information when they believe they are talking with another teen. It doesn't happen frequently, but
instances do occur of teens being deceived by adult predators and manipulated or persuaded into a one-onone meeting. Such meetings can prove tragic.
No Replacement for Friends and Family
Every hour that is spent on a social networking web site is another hour spent alone. In addition, the
feedback provided may be false at best. Despite the ability of these web sites to capture and recreate
certain aspects of social interaction, the computer is not a social club. The tremendous changes that have
occurred in our culture over the past several decades have already reduced social circles dramatically.
Gone are the extended families of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins with whom the older generation
spent their childhood Sunday dinners and after school hours. Today, extended families tend to move hours
and states away from each other. An afternoon at Grandma's has changed into an afternoon at a paid
daycare or alone at home.
A collection of thousands of MySpace friends is not the same as a conversation over coffee with the eye
contact of a friend, a walk after dinner with a neighbor, or a shared box of popcorn at a movie with a sister or
brother. If anything, we need our real, flesh-and-blood relationships and interactions with schoolmates, coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends more than ever before, to keep us company, keep us healthy, and
keep us human.
Copyright of Points of View: Social Networking Sites is the property of Great Neck Publishing and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express
written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
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