What is a social network?

That’s a great question, because you might in a social network right now and not even know it. A social network is also known as a virtual community and they are related to profile sites. They are just certain Web sites that help bring people together so they can make new friends, chat, share interests, share ideas, etc.

It’s amazing how many social network sites are available on the Web today and more and more are popping up each day. As I mentioned above, social networks are related to profile sites, which are sites that allow you to create a profile for yourself for others to view. I know many of you may be thinking about online dating sites or something similar, but that’s not exactly what a social network is all about. (Online dating sites can be considered social networks, but there’s so much more to them than that).

You can make a profile for yourself and include a picture if you want, some of your background information, your hobbies, etc. Other people your age can find you and you can make new e-mail friends all over the world. It’s a fun way to spend time on your computer, because you can meet all kinds of different people and learn all about them as well. And, you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want to. You can be as open or private as you wish.

Some of the more popular social network sites today are:

  • Bebo – this site allows you to share photos, stories and even your own journal with friends and family, either privately or publicly.
  • Classmates – some of you may have heard of this site before. It helps you find your old friends from high school. You can search for them, find out where they’re living, what they’re up to and keep in touch with them forever.
  • Friendster – this site helps bring people together from around the world who have similar interests
  • MySpace – this is one of the more popular sites on the Internet today. You can create a profile here and even post a blog if you want. Other people can also leave you messages on your page. It’s pretty neat.
  • Yahoo 360 – this site allows you to make your own personal Web page with a journal, pictures, favorite links, etc. You can then share your page with your friends and also view theirs. You do need a Yahoo! ID and password for this site.

Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable being a part of a social network, there is nothing wrong with that, but the option is always there if you do change your mind. Also, parents should keep in mind that some of these sites are popular hang out places for predators. As parents, you should always be involved in your child’s computer activities and know which sites they are visiting.

If you decide to use one of these sites, make sure you’re comfortable with each person you’re talking to. These sites are a fun way to meet new people and learn new things, but you can never be too careful.

~ Erin