Social Networking: Friend or Enemy?

 
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While users know the many positives of internet social networking sites such as MySpaceÆ;, FacebookÆ;, BeboÆ; and TwitterÆ;, it’s important to also be aware of their potential pitfalls.

These networks are great for keeping you up to date with people who you don’t often see, connecting with people from your past or who live in other places. But, as recent media reports reveal, it’s clear that caution is needed in using them. Have you thought how your posts might impact your employment?

Or what constantly checking on your friends might do to your workplace productivity? And for children, whether they’re opening the door to juvenile harassment or even adult exploitation?

what about my job?

People have lost their job as a direct result of posting on social networking sites. Reuters1 recently reported a woman losing her job when her employer found her networking on Facebook having earlier called in sick, stating she needed to stay in a darkened environment and was unable to use a computer.

Employers are turning to the Internet more and more, specifically the networking sites, to find information about prospective and current employees.

In another instance, a court ruled that an airline baggage handler be reemployed after being fired as a result of monitoring by his employer. After calling in sick, he competed in an ironman event, commenting online.

But others have been fired— and remained so—for posting unflattering comments about their employer. Consequently, it is important that you set appropriate privacy settings on your accounts, also ensuring you post only pictures that will not harm your reputation, and monitor the pictures and comments friends post of you. Avoid posting comments derogatory to others, in particular, about current or previous employers, a good general rule to live by at any time.

For more tips on how to ensure social networking on the Internet doesn’t jeopardise your job, check the Dumb Little Man2 tips for life website, and type “Make Sure Your Facebook Profile Doesn’t Lose You A Job” in the search box.

my time

Benjamin Franklin once stated, “If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality.”

And so it is: wasting time is wasteful.

That’s not to say one should never waste time at all; I admit I do so from time to time. It’s more a case of how much is too much, especially at work.

In an article entitled “Is Social Networking a Waste of Time?” on the UK Times Online site3, it is revealed that a British survey found some Brits spend up to 12 hours a week on social networking sites while at work. Think of what you could accomplish in 12 hours! Telstra business executive director Brian Harcourt says research from Nielson Online shows social networking sites are now more popular than email, prompting many business owners to impose blanket bans. “Tweeting, friending or poking your way through the working day may not be the best way to improve the productivity of those many small businesses battling to find a way through the challenging economy,” he says. “If an employee spends as much as an hour a day on Facebook, it can end up costing a business thousands of dollars in lost time over the course of a year.”

So the next time you find yourself needing to quickly check your Facebook or Twitter account for the 12th time for the day, go to Dumb Little Man instead and this time type in “11 Productive Things To Do When You Can’t Access The Internet.”

Yes, I know it’s ironic to be using the Internet to find out what to do when you can’t use the Internet but there are some great ideas listed.

why me?

Obviously we desire to keep our jobs safe, but more importantly, we want to keep the people we love safe. A few months ago the Sydney Morning Herald4 published an article about two schoolgirls who were asked to leave a prestigious Sydney girls school because of cyber bullying using MySpace. Such sites have become a prime location for cyber bullying and the destruction of reputations.

The website STOP Cyberbullying5 defines cyber bullying as when a “teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child …using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.” This is a wonderful web site, and along with Safe Families6 and Wired Safety7, I recommend them to both kids and parents. They provide information on why people get into cyber bully, how to prevent it happening to your child, and how to stop it when it’s already happening.

Such tales as I’ve described aren’t meant to discourage you from cyber social networking—I’m a member of several—and aren’t often negative at all.

Rather, my aim is to give you a helping hand in guarding against potential problems before you encounter them.

For a parting word, as they say in twords (Twitter words): Don’t forget to chk da fab sites L8er on, BFN (bye for now).