Social networking sites (SNSs) are increasingly used by young people. Critically evaluate claims that their use can have negative effects on users.
Recent years have witnessed the exponential increase of web-based social networks, also known as social networking sites (SNSs). By the end of 2011, there were approximately 2.3 billion people (around one third of the global population) using the Internet, and 1.03 billion (about 45%) of which have reported using a social networking site at least once a day (International Telecommunications Union, 2011:1). According to Papacharissi (2009:199), the increasing popularity and the growth of the leading SNSs such as Facebook, My Space, Twitter and ...view middle of the document...
The last section will assess the privacy issues facing the teenagers when using SNSs.
Teenage SNS users are generally considered facing various risks and two of which are online harassment and cyber-bullying that are widely accepted as the most common threats seen in their online life (O'Keeffe et al, 2011: 801). Defined as offensive behaviour or threats posted to youth through Internet, online harassment is becoming worse with the widespread of SNS among its young users (Wolak et al, 2006:17). According to the survey monitored by Ybarra and Mitchell (2008:350), 524 (around 33%) among 1588 youth between the age 10 to 15 reported having experienced online harassment and what even worse, 238 (about 15%) of which having received sexual solicitation up to one year period. As a more common form of online harassment, cyber-bullying refers to “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the medium of electronic text” (Patchin and Hinduja, 2006:148), and is also perceived as online version of offline bullying (Smith et al, 2006:376). It has been estimated by a number of researchers that the incidence of teenagers being cyber-bullied vary and range from 23 to 72% (Patchin and Hinduja, 2006:150; Dehue et al, 2008:217).
On the other hand, there is also evidence that it is not having accessed to SNS but posting personal photographs, disclosing school information, online chatting, sending instant messages, and online flirting are the predictors to the majority of online harassment and cyber-bullying issues Wolak et al (2006:2). The result of the survey conducted by (Sengupta and Chaudhuri, 2010:288) is consistent with the argument from Wolak and his colleagues. During a one year observation on 935 teenagers in the age bracket of 12 to 17, participants who use SNS as a flirting platform were three times more likely to be harassed than the remainders who do not use it to flirt. Users who chat online, disclose school information and send instant messages also showed more likelihood to be harassed and cyber-bullied than the rest who simply used SNS to communicate with friends to different degrees (Sengupta and Chaudhuri, 2010:288).
Nevertheless, it is considered that the research result of Sengupta and Chaudhuri remains to be argued due to its lack of variable control (Guan and Subrahmanyam, 2011:353). Amongst all 935 respondents, 829 of which (around 88%) finished this survey with the company of their parents (Sengupta and Chaudhuri, 2010:288). Therefore, the reliability and validity of this research could be seriously threatened since some young respondents would not tell the truth when they were asked to answer the questions especially about personal privacies such as flirting online with parents aside (Guan and Subrahmanyam, 2011:353).
Despite the fact that teenage users could be harassed and cyber-bullied, they are also generally performing weaker in their academic studies than nonusers. A recent survey conducted by Kirschner and Karpinski...