The pros of social networking is that you can spread lots of information in a small time frame, and you can connect with people at anytime with the click of a mouse. It is also a great way to enhance your writing skills, it is a formidable venue for reading exposure, and you can multitask and do many things at once while socializing.
The cons of social networking are that, as any other method, you are putting yourself "out there" in the media. Your pictures, information, and the people whom you are connected to are owners of all the communication you share. It may put one in a very dangerous situation, and it could signify the breaking of rules and ethical regulations.
Social networking is "much ado about nothing." I agree with "dstuva" that it tends to be trivial banter for the sake of trivial banter. It's like TV in its infancy. Mass media has a way of having more style than substance.
Social networking is email on steroids. Just as email, it promotes "live" anti-social behavior. It's good for keeping in touch with long-distance friends and family, but it prevents real, live dialogue with people at work, next door, in the house.
One pro of social networking is that, if you use it correctly, it can be a powerful networking tool to help you advance in your career. In the past, people formed connections by attending groups and joining actual organizations. In today's fast-paced society, people don't have time to go out and be active in actual groups organizations, but they do find time to make the same kind of connections based on shared interests on line. These groups do everything from offering each other moral support to actively being involved in charity efforts, fund raising, social consciousness projects, and even business ventures.
The major con is that because the Internet is an anonymous forum you don't really know who you are actually speaking to. It is easy for someone to claim to be something he or she is not, or someone he or she is not, and there is not much that the general public can do about it other than learn to be very careful and independently verify any and all claims that people make to you on line.
I agree with post #8. I also like the fact that I have been able to connect with friends and family. I really enjoy being able to communicate with family and friends that live far away from where I am living. The social networking sites are free, so you can avoid the cost of long distance charges. In addition, I share my photographs with my close friends and family on my social networking site which is a more desirable option than carrying heavy photo albums from one place to another. Another added bonus is that you can respond to messages when you have time to respond. Phone calls can be disruptive at times.
The only thing that I do not find terribly comforting is the lack of privacy and security on some of the social networking sites. We need to be careful what we post because it becomes every body's business!
There is a strange interplay between the easiness of contact and the willingness of people to share far too much personal information as others have posted. The strange phenomenon of people texting in the same room or at the same college rather than conversing in person is one that is now well established.
As someone that isn't too old yet (I don't think) but was around when instant messaging really took off, I find it to be useful on occasion but somewhat frightening in the way it affects my students and younger folks that I know. They do appear to struggle more to interact in real life but are super comfortable doing it online. Again I think this leads to a different way of socializing, but I certainly can't judge which one is better, only that the latter seems strange to me.
I would say in my observations working with teenagers is that they are losing the art of conversation. The ability to communicate with someone face to face is becoming a thing of the past. I have seen on numerous occasions two teens in the same room texting each other as opposed to conversing!
I like the fact that I have been able to connect with hundreds of former students, friends and classmates. Otherwise I may well have never heard from some of them again.
It is a little addictive, and I should probably be reading a book instead. I know students spend way too much time chatting away on MySpace. They, along with others, also tend to put too much personal information, or risque photos and videos that become permanent on the web. Some people have lost scholarships or jobs because employers or colleges looked at their Facebook or MySpace pages and saw something they didn't like.
To me, most social networking just ends up being trivial. I have no real problem with it, but it is just mostly a waste of time. I can only take so much of this person likes this song, and that person just saw that movie, and who is taking a nap, when. For the most part, what's the point? It's mostly just a waste of time.
There are so many pros and cons of social networking. Some pros are the fact that is easy to keep in touch. Social networking also makes it possible (and very easy) to connect with people whom you have not spoken to in a very long time.
A big con of social networking is that it can be addictive. I know people who get on the computer and sit there for hours on particular networking sites. This time can be spent interacting face to face with other people. Another problem is that when the internet goes down and we are addicted to our social networks we become lost and have difficulty trying to fill the time.
Most of these pros and cons are from my students' point of view. They just debated this topic last week.
--The sites have certainly made it more convenient to get in touch with people with whom we have lost contact.
--My students found several studies which demonstrated that social networking sites have helped business, especially small businesses.
--They can be helpful in networking for employment purposes.
Cons: (By the way, my students, almost all of whom use social networking sites, were surprised at how many legitimate cons they found in their research.)
--Predators abound on the sites (sexual, identity-theft, etc.). One of my students even set up a free e-mail account which she linked to Facebook, created a completely fictional teenage male, and was shocked at how much personal information others were willing to share with her. Moreover, games such as Farmbill can gather not only the player's personal information but also that of the players' friends even if someone has privacy settings on his or her account. I understand that Facebook is working to change this.
--While sites have helped some jobseekers network; they have often hurt jobseekers' opportunities. I cannot remember the exact percentage, but one survey found that the majority of employers search the Internet for information about potential employees and weed them out based on inappropriate photos, obnoxious comments, and the like.
--Once someone deletes information from Facebook, it does not disappear. In fact, my students investigated this when they were told by a career day speaker that this is true (he was warning them about ever posting questionable photos on line even if one's Facebook account is set to private). They found that if they Googled photos that they had deleted from their accounts, those photos were still available online.
--Of course, the decrease in face-to-face communication is often listed as the most significant con, and it certainly is one; but I have also encountered several situations where spouses have initiated contact with others through social networking sites because they provide privacy and opportunity that would normally be unavailable to them. Two of my high school acquaintances started "friendships" with old friends on Facebook and eventually left their spouses for their new "friends." Similarly, I cannot count how many of my high school students who have said, "My mom's addicted to Facebook." They then go on to explain how their moms talk to their high school guy friends and constantly check their Facebook pages throughout the day.
--The military is warning its members to be very careful of what they post on the sites because they have found evidence of would-be terrorists trolling the sites for personal information about military members.
Pros include: the potential for greater cultural awareness, greater potential for networking contacts and connecting with resources, almost instantaneous communication. Cons include: instantaneous communication, difficulty in tracking contacts and validating information, and a decrease in fact to face social skills.
Pros include being able to stay in touch with long-lost friends quickly, easily, and 24-7.
Cons include that the "social" part of it is not the same as being face to face or speaking on the phone. Tone of voice, facial expressions, and the actual time invested in that relationship is neglected, misread, or overlooked.
To me, the major pro is that you can keep in touch with a wide variety of people in a way that you never would if you had to do direct contact (like emailing them in particular). You get a much better feel for what people are like by seeing what the post on Facebook -- they would never email you to tell you this stuff.
I suppose a con is that (young people especially) expose too much of their lives in a way that can come back to hurt them. Pictures of underage drinking, for exanple, can bite you when you try to get a job.
As a female, I can say that social network has some disadvantages. Girls are often abused via social networking. In fact, at one stage, some girls are compelled to commit suicide. So, this is a major con to me. Besides, social networking sometimes hampers personal secrecy or privacy.
And, definitely, social networking has many pros which have been expressed by other posters already.