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Updated: October 4, 2010 17:18 IST

How to have safe fun

Alysha Tharani
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Be alert: Maintain your privacy.
AP Be alert: Maintain your privacy.

Just be sure your privacy settings are on.

Thirteen-year-old Ashna Shah has friends in London and Singapore. But she cannot call them up every day despite the slashed call rates and increased monthly allowances.

Now, if one is to keep in touch with friends in different corners of the globe without shelling out maximum portions of pocket money, then what is one to do? Social networking?

Hello world

Like her peers Ashna took the social networking route - Twitter, Facebook and the rest. Presently, with over 400 million active Facebook users around the world, the world just became smaller.

She logs every alternate day to catch up with her friends, check their updated statuses and comment on their latest pictures. Sitting in her room at any given point of time, she is always up-to-date with the latest happenings in her friend's lives with just one click.

But while she manages her time well, there are those who are addicted to Facebook.

For many of them their day is not the same without using Facebook. This could lead to many unhealthy habits.

Vaishnavi, also 13 years old has been actively using social networking every day for two hours, since past eight months. For her it is more about keeping in touch with friends from her previous schools.

She says, “I have changed a lot of schools in the past. I use this site to keep in touch with all my friends from different schools. And when I am free, I like to check profiles of other users.”

So much personal information goes public and it may be misused. But some children are smart. “When I realised that my profile is being checked by a lot of strangers, I asked my cousin to change my security settings. Now I barely get unwanted messages and requests, and no stranger can check my pictures”, quips Krutika.

Parents also understand the need for youngsters to be active socially. While they do not stop them from using these social networking websites, they also do not want such activities to hamper their kids' education. Krutika adds, “Only after I finish my homework every day, I am allowed to use Facebook.”

As the parents make efforts to understand their childrens' needs, there are some children who take it as a challenge to free themselves of this Facebooking bug.

Bonding time

Abhinav says, “For the past one year, I would spend at least two hours on the social network site every day.

My routine was such that I did not get any family time. So, the past one month I have not even used the computer. Now I use those same two hours to bond with my family.”

Earlier he was also addicted to it. But eventually he got used to using Facebook and the initial excitement was over.

When asked on if he is missing out on something, he replied, “I am happy to overcome my addiction and I don't regret not using Facebook. I cherish my family time.”

Earlier too there were social etworks and tomorrow there might be something else. Whatever it is, kids are quick in joining these networks.

While they do share openly, they also make sure that their privacy is not compromised on. Heard about safe fun, well this is what it is!

The Hindu presents the all-new Young World

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