What are the pros and cons of social networking sites? I need answers ASAP. It's for my research paper.

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I personally love having social networking tools to stay in touch with my far away family, but I think the biggest detriment is an over-exposure of information. Do we need to know everything? Not at all! I try to limit to "big ticket" items or funny things.

 

The other caution I'd give is: Lock your info down. Don't let your boss/colleagues find your facebook. Personal life should stay personal!

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I think social networking sites are a good way to keep in touch with old friends and acquaintances. You can share photo's of yourself and family and keep abreast of each others lives. I think one drawback of these sites is that some tend to put too much personal information out there for the world to see. I have heard stories of accounts being hijacked or stolen because of the personal information that is accessible.

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Another con I haven't seen discussed, is that things you may want to keep private about yourself are hard to do in the social media age.  I have read numerous reports of businesses checking out people's facebook pages to see if there is anything about the perspective employee of concern before they are hired.  One picture of a bad moment that a person thought was in private could cost them a a job if it was tagged on a facebook page for the world to find.

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Social networking can be an amazingly powerful thing, if used right.  People who tell you everything they do can be annoying.  However, the sites can be used to stay connected with people in profound ways as well as menial ones.  Yet the effect of social networking is more complex than we might have previously thought.  Research indicates that being connected via social networks is actually making us lonely!

Stephan Marche of The Atlantic, quoted in The Week, notes that “this is the paradox of the Facebook age: We have an unmatched ability to connect with other people through social networks, yet we still ‘suffer from unprecedented alienation’” (para 1).  The week goes on to quote other columnists commenting on the recent study.  You can find the text of the article here: http://theweek.com/article/index/226827/is-facebook-really-making-people-more-lonely

It’s a fascinating idea.  Because we are so easily connected with daily, trivial elements and with so many people, we lose the face to face contact that humans crave.  Why stop by to visit a friend when you can send an instant message?  Why have a party to celebrate an event when you can just post pictures on Facebook?  Sometimes being together virtually keeps us apart physically.

"Is Facebook Really Making People More Lonely?" The Week. Web. 04 May 2012. <http://theweek.com/article/index/226827/is-facebook-really-making-people-more-lonely>.

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Another con is that people who use social networking sites tend to not keep up their social in-person skills.  I have noticed that my own sons are reluctant to pick up a phone to call anyone anymore.  Sometimes I fear that our vocal cords are going to atrophy.   Also, the on-line world has become the real world for many people, making hermits of them, depriving them of fresh air and exercise. 

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Some other pros are that social media can be moved to facilitate popular movements, organize causes like fundraisers, and keep up with your interests, like your favorite bands, sports teams, political parties, and so on.

Negatives would be (and this is a bit of an editorial on my part) that it tends to increase the meme-driven nature of popular culture, including political culture. Complex issues are reduced to bumper-sticker length simplicity.  

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The major pro is that it allows us to stay in touch with people who we are no longer able to see every day.  The major con is that it can be another way for young people to be cruel to one another.  Social networking sites make things like cyberbullying possible.

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