With an increase in the number of social networking sites, there are more children accessing them to keep in touch.

The craze for social networking sites amongst children, especially teens has increased These sites have given a whole new dimension to their personality and changed the way they communicate with one another. It's almost indispensable with children perceiving it to be ‘cool tools', which is a fun medium to connect with friends and share matters of common interest.

‘Cool’ users

Karthik, a 15-year-old, who is connected to a social networking site for the past six months, says that he has loved the experience so far. “I am quite a regular on these sites and so are many of my friends. It is fun to share one's knowledge, let your friends know what you are upto through your status updates or wall updates and also get an almost instant feedback. I find the sites a useful medium to connect with my friends without invading into their private time,” he says.

For 14-year-old Shruthi, the social networking site has given an impetus to her passion which is dancing. She says, “The site has become a forum for us who share the passion for dance, to discuss various aspects of dancing which otherwise seemed impossible due to paucity of time as academics always dominated when we met up during school hours. “Regular updates from various sources in this regard has taken my interest in dance to a different level,” she adds.

YouTube, Facebook and the most recent craze, Twitter, allows instant communication with thousands of people that includes pictures and video, as well as text. There is no denying that these social media has a positive influence with educational and entertainment content, but how good is this for children? The private pictures, videos and information posted on these public sites are for the world to see. Further there is also a risk of wrong information being spread instantly that might do more harm than good.

As these technologies are here to stay, children need to strike a balance between spreading of information and risking one's private information from going public. Hence, it is important for them to be monitored by the elders with regard to sites they are allowed to visit and what information they can post. It is also important to teach children about basic online safety guidelines such as privacy settings that allow children to control who can see their profiles and personal information from going public.

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