OSS Changes Its Tune!

Peace in the Midst of Giants

(Photo credit: IntelFreePress)

Hello all,

Up to now, OSS had been writing about Internet Safety and how teachers and parents can keep their kids safe on social networks.  As many of you probably have noticed, we took an extended break from this mission in the spring of 2011.

After some evaluation and discussion, I have decided to pick this site up and start blogging again.  I will still talk about how to keep kids safe online now and then, but I’ll also be blogging about general social media issues, basic SEO principles, and other topics that cover a little more territory than just the internet safety topic.

I’ll also be re-evaluating OSS’ resources and news sections to figure out whether to continue doing news and updating these sections or not.  More to come as time goes by.

For those that have been readers of this blog in the past, thanks for reading!  I think you’ll find some of the information in here to continue to be useful if you have a general interest in online interaction and social networking :)

If you’re brand new here, welcome to OSS!!

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In The News: Preteen uses of Facebook worry parents

A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that preteen use of social network sites continues to increase:

  • 46% of online 12yos use social network sites, like Facebook
  • 62% of online 13yos use them

In a news report filed yesterday in the newsobserver.com, Facebook safety spokesperson Nicky Jackson Colaco stated that keeping preteens off the site depends on parent participation.

“We believe that conversations about online safety should occur in the same way that parents discuss why wearing a seatbelt is important or why looking both ways before a child crosses the road is critical,” Colaco said.

No mention of COPPA appears in the news report. COPPA is the US act which requires that sites with children 12yo and younger must keep their data private, among other safety measures. Facebook does not comply with COPPA, which means that children under 13yo are not allowed to have profiles on the site. It is widely known, however, that 12yo children and younger very frequently do have profiles on Facebook. Some studies put the figure as high as 38% of all 12yos; others, like the Pew study, do not specify the exact social network site. However, as Facebook is the largest social network site on the Internet and growing, it is likely that a large percentage of the preteens cited in the Pew study are using Facebook.

Facebook has not provided any mechanism to verify the ages of its users, beyond asking for their birthdates at the time that a new profile is created. Young children get around this restriction simply by lying about their birth dates. Many times, young children do this with full parental knowledge and permission. One young child cited in the story uses his Facebook profile to play Farmville.

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In The News: Is Facebook Changing How Young People Conduct Relationships?

As reported yesterday, a study by the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, finds that Facebook is the cause of jealousy in relationships – and may make it harder to move on when relationships fail.

The study, published in 2009, is called “More Information than You Ever Wanted: Does Facebook Bring Out the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy?” The study surveyed 308 Facebook users all between the ages of 17 and 24. At the time of the survey, about half described themselves as being in a serious relationship.

“Facebook gives people access to information about their partner that may otherwise not be accessible,” Amy Muise is quoted as saying, in a press release about the study released by the University. Amy was a PhD student in psychology who conducted the study with student colleague Emily Christofides. The research was overseen by psychology professor Serge Desmarais.

“This may include details about their partner’s friendships and social exchanges, especially interactions with previous romantic or sexual partners,” Muise said.

Some findings of the controlled study include:

  • ~75% surveyed said they had previous romantic or sexual partners as Friends on FB
  • ~80% reported that their partner also had previous partners as Friends
  • It was verified that there was a specific link between use of FB and increased feelings of jealousy
  • It was also verified that greater use of FB tended to lead to more intense feelings of jealousy

“In the past, people in romantic or sexual relationships were not, for the most part, subjected to daily scrutiny of their social exchanges by their partner,” Desmarias is quoted as saying. “But this is the new reality for some; aspects of their lives that were once private are now open for all to see.”

In yesterday’s news story covering the study, Dr. Howard Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Denver who is sometimes referred to as “Dr. Love” by colleagues, advises that face-to-face communications is critical to overcoming feelings of jealousy which may arise from the use of Facebook or any other social media forum.

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