Social Networking Sites What a Secondary School Counselor Should Know and Teach Literature Review

Pages: 18 (5010 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 18  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Children

Social Networking Sites: What a Secondary School Counselor Should Know and Teach

Social Networking Sites

History and the Challenges of Social Networking Sites in Regards to Young People:

"Web technology has been advanced from static information distribution to massive interaction among users" (Liu, 2010, p. 101). The exponential adoption of technological innovation, by young people, shocks not only the general public and governments, but even technology providers. These innovations over the years have included, e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, texting, blogging, and most recently social networking sites. With this new popularity, public policy strives to capitalize on the youthful excitement, especially in areas such as: informal education, civic participation, and health and lifestyle advice. In addition to these new opportunities comes increased online risks for children and their well-being (Livingstone & Brake, 2010).

Livingstone and Brake (2010) focus on children of the United Kingdom in their research. They surmise that most social networking sites are intended for teenagers and adults, though some have no lower age limit and some target younger children. In 2007, 42% of UK 8

-- 17-year-olds had a social networking profile, including 27% of 8- to 12-year-olds and 55% of 13- to 17-year-olds. Similar figures hold in other countries and use continues to grow worldwide, thought it may have peaked in the U.S.A. And UK

among young people. Ofcom's (2008) survey found that most users visit social networking sites daily or every other day, with parental restrictions on use

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reported by 62% of middle class users (74% of those under 13), but fewer than half of working class users of any age; further, middle class and younger children are also more likely to have set their profile to 'private' (i.e. accessible only to friends or family) -- 61% of social network users overall have restricted to their profile in the UK and similar figures apply in the U.S.A." (p. 75-76).

TOPIC: Literature Review on Social Networking Sites What a Secondary School Counselor Should Know and Teach Assignment

Although social networking sites have only recently escalated to use of astronomical proportions, the idea is not new, according to Kite, Gabel and Fillipelli (2010). In the 1990s, shortly after the adoption of the Internet by many, web sites such as AmericaOnline and Yahoo offered uses virtual methods for connecting with old friends, posting photos and writing descriptions of their recent activities. In the early days, users rarely posted an e-mail address or instant messenger user name, to these sites, as they believed this to be a bad idea to post such personal information to the world at large. Less than ten years later, students of all ages not only post their personal e-mail addresses and usernames, but also other personal information, blogs, conversation threads, and even inappropriate photos. These personal postings sometimes "include activity such as alcohol and narcotics use. In some areas of the country, gangs use social networking sites to recruit members, post messages in code, and conduct other gang-related activity" (p. 159).

Barrett (2006) concurs that informal social networking has been going on online since the Internet's inception. However, Barrett notes that sites specifically dedicated to social networking really started to expand rapidly beginning in 2003. Today, these social networking sites gather information about members and stores that data as their user profile. The profiles can be shared with other members of the site. Oftentimes membership to these sites are free, but the sites can be profit-based. Most of these sites are open to all, while some are accessed by invitation only. "Most of the social networking sites can be divided into some basic categories, including business, common interest, and dating. Increasingly, it is the common-interest sites that have captured the attention of our teens and preteens" (p. 8).

One of the first social networking sites to gain popularity with the online community, according to Barrett (2006), was Friendster, which opened in March 2003. This website had the unprecedented ability to attract 25- to 25-year-olds. Seeing the marketing value in this demographic, other Internet companies began social networking sites. Oftentimes these sites were short lived as members grew bored with the website and left for the next new social networking site.

Kite, Gabel and Fillipelli (2010) cite Bryant as noting, "There is no doubt that these online teen hangouts have a huge influence on how adolescents today think and behave. The challenge for school administrators is to keep pace with how students are using these tools in positive ways and consider how they might incorporate this technology into the school setting" (p. 159). However, the Internet does not have to be a source of trouble for children. The resources available online are extensive for students. With proper education and appropriate supervision, teachers and school administrators can work with parents and the rest of the community to educate students about the hazards of social networking sites.

The new opportunities presented with social networking sites come with associated new risks. Citing the UK's Home Office Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet, Livingstone and Brake (2010) note that there a series of risks to young people that are associated with social networking sites. These include: cyberbullying, harassment, theft of personal information, exposure to harmful content, violent behavior, sexual grooming, racist attacks, and more encouragement to do self-harm.

The widening circle of friends, via the 'friends of friends' phenomenon of social networking, is a significant consequence for children, according to Livingstone and Brake (2010). When surveying American children between the ages of 13 and 18 years of age, it was found that the average number of social networking contacts was 75. While some sources indicate that this number may be distorted, with a random sampling of MySpace profiles of users aged 16 and older to have a median number of contact at 27, some studies show that social networking contacts commonly can number in the hundreds.

Shariff is cited by Kite, Gabel and Filipelli (2010) discussing the lack of social skills that are taught to children in today's modern world. Shariff notes,

As human beings, we teach our children how to eat, clean themselves, and communicate, and we protect and nurture them, until they are old enough to go to school. Once they are at school, we suddenly place more emphasis on supervision, discipline, authority, subordination, punishment, and consequences, with less attention to the social survival skills they will need in the contemporary world (p. 163).

This lack of education leads to dire consequences for some children, especially with the increased usage of social networking sites.

Types of Users for Social Networking Sites:

Wilson, Fornasier and White (2010) note that young people increasingly use social networking sites. This use has both positive and negative effects; however, they found a lack of studies that identified the type of users frequenting these Internet sites. As such, their study sought to predict the use of social networking sites by young adults, and the addictive tendencies of this use. Personality characteristics and levels of self-esteem were assessed in the research, surveying 201 young adults. Participants were asked to complete an NEO-Five-Factor Personality Inventory and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory. Using multiple regression analyses, it was determined that the personality and self-esteem factors that were assesses, were significantly associated with both the level of social networking site use and its addictive tendency. Those who were found to be extroverts and unconscientious were the participants who reported higher levels of both use and addictive tendencies for social networking sites.

The Teen Demographic and Social Networking Sites:

Unlike some older demographics who quickly tired of certain social networking sites, the teen demographic did not. Instead, teens, according to Barrett (2006), found these networking sites a natural extension to how they were already spending their time online. It allowed them an additional opportunity to explore and spend more social time with friends. This potential exploded with the creation of MySpace, a social networking site created for the musically inclined, as a place where they could showcase their music. "By the end of 2005, MySpace reportedly had 32 million users. While MySpace was intended to be a site for older teens and adults (it does not allow the creation of accounts for anyone under the age of 15), it has proven popular with young teens. Kids 14 or younger have to lie to create accounts" (p. 9).

Cyberbullying and Social Networking Sites:

Cyberbullying is defined as "anyone who repeatedly misuses technology to harass, intimidate, bully, or terrorize another person" (Franek, 2005/2006, p. 36). In the more traditional childhood bully, this face-to-face bullying would stop once the last bell at school rang. However, with the advent of the Internet and cyberbullying, the bullying is not limited to school hours. Cyberbullying often occurs through instant messaging, via social networking sites, and allows the bully to torment their victim virtually.

Franek (2005/2006) sees that the virtual nature of social networking sites removes the social cues that often affect the interactions between the bully and his victims. Body posture, volume, and even the facial expressions often contribute to the interactions. However, with the Internet and social networking sites,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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