By GreatSchools Staff
Social networking has become increasingly popular, especially among children and teenagers. Ninety-three percent of 12- to 17-year-olds are online, and more than half of them use social-networking sites, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Networking online offers kids many benefits but also carries a degree of risk. Reports of those dangers — and incidents that illustrate them — have been a hot topic in the media.
Parents are understandably concerned. Scott Moore, an online community manager, says, "Based on discussions on message boards, it's clear that parents are surprised and worried about the communication on MySpace and other social-networking services. They are worried about their kids' safety and how this medium can affect their social development, especially if their kids have learning and/or attention problems."
In this article, we will address the risks and benefits of social networking online for kids in general and, more specifically, for kids with learning disabilities (LD) and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). We will also explain how you can enhance your child's online interactions.
Websites like MySpace and Facebook encourage people to create and share their own online identities and profiles, which can include personal information, photographs, blog entries, video, podcasts and music clips. Users can then share their information with other people directly and also by accessing even more people via the online networks of those individuals. From a technical standpoint, a social-networking site creates a virtual meeting place for people to connect and make friends.
New websites pop up every day. At this time, there are hundreds of sites that claim to offer some form of social networking. And, given the ever-evolving nature of the Web, even well-established sites frequently add, remove or change their features — sometimes making the sites safer, sometimes making them less so. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for operating a social-networking site, so parents need to check the sites their kids visit on a regular basis.
With all the frightening stories about kids at risk online, is there any good news? Yes. In fact, there are many benefits for kids networking socially online. They include:
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