The main issue with Social Networking sites is they are a public forum.  Students need to be aware of the privacy settings associated within social networks to know how to best protect themselves online.  Movies and television programs demonstrate just how easy it is for a predator to lurk on the internet in chat rooms and pose as different people in order to put themselves in a situation where they could attack.  Of course these are dramatised, but we all need to be aware of the risks of giving out personal information in a public forum.  Parents need to know what their child is doing online, and they need to monitor this for their child’s safety.  Educators need to make sure that their students are aware of the fact that they don’t actually know who they are speaking to via the Internet.  Legally, Facebook requires its users to be 16 years and older, but there are many users on Facebook who are much younger than that and lie about their age in order to get an account.  As previously discussed, this is all about people socialising in a different way, but young children still need to be able to protect themselves.  So, should children not be allowed access to these sites at all?  According to Knobel and Lankshear, it is the students with rich online lives who are aware of the risks and understand what is needed in order to protect themselves online. (2006, p. 84).  “These young people tend to be quite savvy about keeping themselves safe online.” (Knobel and Lankshear, 2006, p.83).  Of course, in any situation where children and young adults are using the internet to communicate, there is always a risk that they could be subject to bullying, abuse and potential predators.  But, as stated in Cassell and Cramer, they “are also at risk in the mall, walking home from school, and spending a vacation with distant relatives” (2008, p. 55). Unfortunately it is not possible to always protect our children.

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