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Despite the large number of adults and children alike embracing these online sites, little research has been done, to date, to examine the potential adverse outcomes of such sites.This is likely to be partly due to the relatively recent uptake of these sites.
While these data are from a study in the USA, the numbers are likely to be similar for Australian youth.A recent study found that 72% ofteenagers and young adults use social networking sites, compared to 39% of people over 30 years of age.It consists of sending real-time (instant) messages to another internet user.Instant messaging users can create a list of welcome guests and receive alerts when a message has arrived. The most active users of instant messaging are older female teens; 82% of 15–17 year old females use instant messaging.These websites allow users to create a personal profile that can contain personal information, photographs, videos and sound clips.Currently, the top five most visited social networking sites are Facebook, My Space, Twitter, Flixster and Linked In.
Facebook alone has over 200 million users worldwide.
According to surveys, 91% of social networking teens say they use these sites to stay in touch with friends they see regularly, 82% use the sites to stay in touch with friends they rarely see in person, 72% use these sites to make plans, 49% use these sites to make new friends and 17% use social networking sites for flirting.
This is an increasingly popular teen activity, with the percentage of online teens that have created a blog or online journal increasing from 19% in 2004 to 28% in 2006.
Females (35%) are much more likely to blog than males (20%).
Teens living in lower income households were more likely to blog than those from high income households (35% compared with 24%).
Online teens from single-parent homes were far more likely to blog than teens living with married parents (42% for single-parent households vs. In 2000, 55% of teens reported going to online chat rooms, whereas in 2006 only 18% of teens said they visited chat rooms.