The positives and negatives of using social networking sites

Person typing on a laptop Social networking can be useful but some people worry about the potential risks.

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Social networking is a topic that divides opinion - some people think it's an amazing tool but others are worried about the impact it has on people's lives.

From students to journalists, One Direction to the Prime Minister - lots of people use social media sites for both work and pleasure.

School Reporters from across the UK have reported on staying safe online and the perils of Twitter 'addiction' in the last few months.

Students from The Crest Girls' Academy in London are also interested in the topic and recently polled parents, carers and teachers at their school to get their views on social networking.

The survey found that 37% of those questioned had been left sleep-deprived as a result of social networking and 75% didn't like the idea of phones being kept close by while they slept. Other School Reporters have also looked into the issue of technology and its effect on teenagers' sleeping habits.

The students decided to explore the issue further and have been taking a closer look at the benefits - and potential risks - of using social networks. Here are some of their conclusions as to the main benefits and drawbacks of social media.

Negatives

Not everyone in the 21st century thinks about the negative effects of having social networking accounts - but simple things like not setting your privacy settings properly or liking someone's photo can have bad results.

Cyberbullying can be a problem as people can take advantage of the fact that there is no one who can effectively stop the bullying when it happens, due to everything being performed behind a screen. The only way for a bully to be stopped is if they are reported and victims may be too intimidated to do it.

Social networking can also ruin relationships as people may get jealous if they find out their boyfriend or girlfriend is exchanging messages with other people.

It can also be a waste of time as people can visit a site to check on thing and end up spending the whole day 'behind the screen' and as a result, not doing anything useful with their lives.

Positives

Social networking has lots of good points

You can express yourself, showing off your favourite song lyrics or posting pictures of your new outfit. It is a lot harder to feel embarrassment over the internet than in person, so people find it easier to vent their feelings on sites like Facebook.

In fact, it has become so much a part of people's lives that you can learn someone's life story just by checking their page. Their friends, likes and dislikes, relationship status, phone number, address…everything.

You can share your feelings and your mental stresses - and it is a great way to entertain yourself after a busy daily routine.

It also makes it a lot easier to keep in touch with family and friends, especially if they live far away. But you can also make new friends by connecting with friends of friends that you might not know.

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