JellyBaby's Blog

Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

Last month, 17 year old Ashleigh Hall from County Durham went to meet a 16 year old boy she had met on social networking site Facebook. Now, her family and friends are grieving after she was found murdered in a field at the end of October. 32 year old sex-offender Peter Chapman has been arrested for her murder.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo have become one of the most popular ways to keep in touch with friends. Most of my friends have at least one social networking site, and I myself have a Facebook and Twitter profile. They are a handy way to chat to my mates and find out what others are doing, all from the comfort of my home.

But they also have a dark side, as this tragic story shows. While most people use these sites for good we seem to be hearing more and more stories of paedophiles using them to groom victims and people who bully others from behind a computer screen.

On Facebook, I have a strict rule that I only accept friend requests from people I know, but not everyone does. On these sites it is often seen as “cool” to have a friends list that reaches into the thousands, regardless of whether these people are real friends or not. On MySpace, it is common practise to join groups with the sole intention of gaining more friends.

With warnings of the dangers of the internet everywhere you turn it makes you wonder why are young people so naive?  Why do so many people ignore the dangers when they accept a request off someone they don’t know?

I feel that perhaps low self-confidence is a factor. Teenage girls often suffer from low self-confidence. Imagine a girl who hates her looks, feels ignored or bullied at school. Perhaps they feel better when an older man compliments them on Facebook. Many girls want to be popular – what better way to look popular than to have thousands of friends on MySpace? Growing self-esteem can cause common sense to go out of the window.

Teenagers who are at risk of social networking sickos need to know the dangers. But perhaps if self-confidence was of more importance we would hear less of these disturbing tales?