Balancing benefits and drawbacks of Facebook

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FACEBOOK – created by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes in February 2004 – is a social networking site with more than a billion users.

What’s worrying is that 7.5 million users are breaking the age barrier by using Facebook at under 13 years old – it’s simple to do by just lying about their birth year. Moreover, 88 per cent of 13 to 16-year-olds in the UK use Facebook, whether to chat to friends or play online games.

We know that many young people use Facebook, but what about the adults? I decided to ask some people in Galashiels on a Saturday whether they used it and, if so, why. It was a busy Christmas shopping day, but some kind people stopped to answer my questions and I discovered that most adults who have Facebook use it once a day to get in contact with family or friends who have moved away.

Some interesting responses to the question, “What don’t you like about Facebook?” included: “Too many people can see what you’re doing” and “All the posts are always the same”.

There was also a feeling that people who argue on Facebook are childish, seeking attention and are part of “the Jeremy Kyle generation”.

Facebook is full of details about people’s personal lives and private information, conver-sations and photo-graphs. There have been many debates about the type of inform-ation and photo-graphs young people post online, and the consequences this could have for them longer term.

Anyone can see the pictures and posts you upload for years to come – potential employers, family members. Just because you delete something from your page doesn’t mean it disappears completely – there will still be a record of that post, if someone hasn’t already copied and 
saved it.

Facebook isn’t all bad, it has some benefits, but we need to start being really careful about what we post online – you never know who might see it or have an opinion about it.

Euan Hill, age 13, Jedburgh