If by now you have not heard of Mspace or Friendster then maybe the world is moving too slowly for you. Young adults (teens and college age adults) are using the world of the internet to communicate in ways we had no inkling of a few years ago.
Social networking is booming as young adults find one another online to chat, post comments, post photos, and share info about the latest happenings in their world to their Myspace pages and Friendster networking sites. It is not always a good thing for sure, but more on that later on.
So how does it work? Well some genius thought up the concept of Myspace, which is basically a free bulletin board for anyone (not just teens) to create a web site that is all about networking and communicating with friends and creating new friends too. Users create a free account, enter information about themselves, in as much or little detail as they want. They then share their site with their friends. Their friends can then post comments on the myspace. It becomes a great big bulletin board of social interaction. The kids are glued to these things and seem to know how to find one another and chase down the latest hot info in a heartbeat.
So what does this mean to communication in the Internet age for teens and young adults? It puts a fancier face on the outpouring of information exchange between teens.
It used to be that only the geeky teens had web pages about themselves. They were the only ones who knew how to build them. Now with these easy to use tools at their disposal every teen or young adult can have a site. That means connections and networking spreads very fast.
The sharing aspect of these sites are not only their good side but also their bad side as well. In the last year many schools and parents have become alarmed at the content of some of these Myspace sites that students have built. In typical teen fashion some kids say on their site what probably should not be said in public. They post as though it were a diary and then it gets spread around. That means that hate and meanness spread within the community quickly. Some schools have cracked down and told students they would be expelled if they do not clean up their sites. Parents, just finding out about the technology and checking it out for the first time become alarmed at the things that are said on these postings.
Of course that aspect comes back to the old thing of parents needing to be in tune with their kids and what is going on in their world. You cannot give a kid a computer and internet access and then walk away and not pay any attention.
The other thing that has raised alarm in this world of social networking is kids will post news of a party in their area, to their site. Instead of getting to “just” their friends it ends up spreading to the whole area. Homes have been overrun by crowds of kids trying to attend parties. One such event even ended with a fatal stabbing when the crowd got to big and unruly.
Now these are the type of things that can happen with or without such social networking sites in teens lives. These sites are not going to fade away. Myspace has over 60 million subscribers and was recently bought by a major corporation. They intend to make a lot of money off these sites for years to come. After all it is a very juicy target market for advertising revenue.