The internet is one of the most important communication tools of our time, as more and more become reliant on internet services through their phones, computers, and whatever other electronic devices. Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly popular among younger people, and have given everyone a much faster way to look into the stream-of-consciousness of hundreds of their friends and idols. It’s kind of amazing how much these networks have integrated with our modern society. Everyone from kids to celebrities are addicted to them, movies are made about them, and lately, they have been playing large roles in political expression in various oppresive nations.
You probably have heard about the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and other Arab countries in the last month or so. Surprisingly, social networks seem to have been the preferred method of communication and organizing among protesters. In fact, Facebook was such an influential tool in Egypt that a man named his newborn child after it. This hasn’t just been a phenomenon in these countries: in places like Iran and China, where the government cracks down on political freedoms, social networking sites have been banned after they were starting to be used for anti-government causes. It says a lot about how quickly technology evolves when a site where teenagers spout off what’s on their head is also used by ordinary people to organize resistance against their governments.
Coming back to our world, it’s still important to make sure that your use of these sites is appropriate. While you may think that it’s OK to say whatever you want, when something is posted on the internet, it never leaves. Recently, college admissions officers have admitted to using online profiles to judge applicants. That wouldn’t be good if you had potentially embarassing status updates, like “omg i hate school so much” or “i’m glad i was sitting next to that smart kid, i couldn’t have passed that test without his/her ‘help.’”
What’s worse is that on sites like Facebook, where you keep a lot of personal data (e.g. pictures, personal information, statuses), without adjusting your privacy settings, anyone can see it. By default, some of your personal data is made public, so anyone who stumbles on your profile can take a look at what you did last weekend, the activities you enjoy, and pictures of you on your last vacation. I would highly recommend that you look over your settings on all of your social networking sites and make sure that the privacy settings prevent everyone from seeing your information.
Social networking sites have been a great tool, allowing us to communicate with more people and less effort. It’s been used as a powerful weapon against autocratic states in the Middle East and North Africa. However, it is still important to remember that you don’t want to end up posting something you’ll regret in the future.
Post by Eric, Teen Advisory Group