Today, Facebook and Twitter are by far the most popular and addictive social networking sites out there. But the former seems to be the one creating all the buzz, perhaps because of the endless amount of people hooked on to it, in addition to the features it offers. With over 400 million users, Facebook surely deserves all the hype it’s enjoying, but there’s almost always a flip side to such big successes, or is there? Almost a year ago, Brian Osborne, at, reported about a study conducted by Aryn Karpinski of Ohio State University. This exploratory research suggested that Facebook was affecting the grades of students, because they devoted a large chunk of their time to Facebook as opposed to dedicating it to studies. Now, as Brian pointed out, and I agree, this research was limited to certain universities, which obviously doesn’t account for the other millions of Facebook users around the world.

A post on Facebook’s official blog explains how there is no correlation between the amount of time users spend on social networking sites and their grades. But again, even this study, since it was conducted amongst one lot of students in one part of the world, seems too narrow. So, it’s difficult to actually pin-point whether students, who use social networking such as Facebook, are losing out on their grades as a result.

Yes, what matters is whether a student is using the platform in a productive way, or whether online socializing is turning into an unending obsession. Be it for making resourceful professional contacts or simply for making friends, Facebook has proven to be a very powerful platform, where individuals connect with one another. Also, they use all sorts of fun online applications and play games online, which is one of the reasons why it is so addictive. But, unless you misuse it or get addicted to it to the point of neglecting your priorities, there’s no reason to believe that it has negative effects. On the contrary, there are many ways in which social networking can be truly leveraged. You’ll find many professionals, online businesses, and entrepreneurs using this powerful medium to grow and expose their businesses. Also, a unique example of why social networking is helpful is, how reinforcement agencies in the US leverage social networking to track and fight crime. The point is that there are certainly more positive points than negative ones. This doesn’t mean that you put your guard down and think nothing could possibly go wrong. All sorts of people are lurking on the Web, and while the medium is genuine, the person using it might have something up his sleeve.

On that note I’d say, privacy is a major concern when it comes to online networking. I’d like to point out an example that regular users will relate to. While Facebook urges its users to keep their privacy settings in check , ignoring them could cause serious consequences. Let’s say that you don’t want to approve of a pending friend request. Now, if even one of your friends on Facebook has this stranger on their friends list, then through your friend, this stranger can access at least part of your information. This can be avoided by making appropriate settings on your privacy settings page. The message is quite clear – if used responsibly, social networking can prove to be helpful, and even profitable. Otherwise, things can get really ugly.

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