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I. Introduction Social networks are virtual communities that allow people to connect to other people in various ways. There are a number of social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, but all pretty much use the same formula. Users can create a profile or username, broadcast status updates, share their location by checking in, join group pages and/or online organizations, or simply say what’s on their minds via update or tweet. Social networking sites have become a part of today’s society and have even helped spark political revolutions. This advancement in technology has changed the world as well as adolescent development. Children born in the 1990’s do not know a world without Internet. Although relationships are still formed in school or on the playground, these relationships are now supplemented with a virtual world with almost limitless connectivity. Youth today now use social networking to define themselves and establish their social identies. During adolescence, individuals begin to seek out who they really are by exploring different roles and identities. Social media is now another outlet in which adolescents can discover their identities through online photos, videos, groups, and websites. The wealth of information on the internet can help youth determine their interests, as well as what makes them unique --thus helping them establish their social identity. Social networking sites are also used to extend friendships that teens already have. By establishing a profile and making their interests public, youths are able to learn more about their friends and what their common interests are. Although new friendships can be formed online, teens typically use social networking to communicate with friends they’ve al... ... middle of paper ... ...ent years. V. Conclusion In conclusion, social networks can be both beneficial and detrimental to adolescent development. This can be said of many other things that happen offline as well. However, the possibility for personal and social growth that social networking can offer makes its use far more beneficial. Like schoolyard behavior, online behavior must be taught and supervised. Bullying, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, and depression were here long before social networking and the Internet came to be. Social networking has evolved and modernized the way youth form both relationships with others and with themselves. Because of this, parental involvement is essential in helping a child develop appropriate online behavior. Social networking is a new and permanent part of society and therefore must be embraced responsibly by adults and adolescents alike.

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