Facebook, launched in February 2004 is the most popular social networking website with an active user strength of 1 billion. In spite of the varied reactions that Facebook has drawn, there is no denying the fact that Facebook has reached unprecedented heights. It goes without saying that Facebook, unlike many other social networking sites, is not a flash in the pan, and we are definitely going to see more of Facebook in the next few years.
Now that we almost know that Facebook is here to rule at least for the next few years, the question we immediately land into is whether its influence will be a good thing or a bad one. The next few paragraphs you are going to read are an insight into what impact Facebook is likely to make on young kids’ lives.
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- It’s easy! What the creators of Facebook have done marvelously is gift the users an extremely friendly interface which makes setting up a profile and getting started a cakewalk. Facebook is free and to use it all you need is a way to connect to the internet.
- Beyond boundaries: Facebook helps reduce proximity between friends and families who are far away. Your kids can stay connected to their friends who may be present in a completely different part of the world.
- Your child decides who to share with. Your kid gets to select the set of people with whom he can share his updates.
- A place to share thoughts, causes, and ideas. Facebook provides your kids with a wonderful opportunity to connect to folks with similar interests. They can join groups and fan pages where they come close to activities in their fields of interest and other fields that kids of their age are interested in.
- Enhances social skills. Facebook not only helps you keep abreast with other friends but also provides a platform where you can befriend new folks. Facebook makes a child feel in the company of other friends and thus boosts his confidence. Online social networking helps a shy person open up and interact with others which otherwise would have been so difficult for him.
- It’s educational! Facebook allows school kids to discuss online and solve their school assignments.
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- Privacy: A major problem with all social networking sites including Facebook is privacy. It is really important for an individual to be very meticulous while understanding the privacy features a site is offering and set them carefully. Even after that, nobody can rule out the possibility of hackers penetrating the privacy settings and getting hold of the personal information of a person.
- Time-consuming In spite of all its benefits, it always goes without saying that a child is better off growing up playing outdoors, studying, and doing other meaningful things rather than staying online for their entire childhood and wasting it. Addiction to Facebook will more likely be ruining a child than being helpful to him.
- Freedom of expression? Children often do not have the proper judgment of what content they should not go public with. Inappropriate or offensive content can create an adverse impact on young minds.
- Kids can be mean: Cyberbullying can be a very serious problem. Children often do not have the maturity to ignore bullying on social networks and end up taking drastic steps like committing suicide.
- Things aren’t always what they seem There could be friend requests and other invitations from a lot of fake Facebook accounts, and children end up committing the mistake of sharing his updates and photos with those whom they do not even know.
- It’s addictive! Facebook is not only about social networking. There are lots of other attractive things that can keep children glued to it. Kids spend a lot of time playing games on Facebook which are even more addictive than actually networking with friends, and in the process waste time which they could have used in other fruitful activities.
- Whose image is it anyway? Young folks need to be highly scrupulous while posting a photo on Facebook. An image that has gone public can easily be downloaded and misused by anybody.
- Its anti-social? Facebook can make a child averse to social gatherings as he had never honed any other form of interaction but online chatting. This is extremely harmful to the child’s social development.
- It can hurt their future: A kid can damage his future permanently by posting something offensive on Facebook which in the future if discovered can debar him from college admissions or employment.
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It is impossible to infer whether Facebook is good or bad for kids. But either way, kids cannot be separated completely from Facebook. So, as parents, all we can do is make them aware of the ill impacts of Facebook from which they can protect themselves. You also have to be there for them to listen and help them out of any undesirable situation that they could land into. Facebook, like all other online entertainment and networking sites, does have its own set of vices, but, we have also to realize that it is a gift to the world by a group of very talented programmers. There are some users who used it with ill intentions which made the others suspicious of such a fantastic creation. It is our onus to help the kids filter out all the ways in which Facebook can be misused and use it solely for the purpose of enriching themselves.