A darker side.

The purely innocent world of Social Network addiction is really all fun and games. There have been a few unfortunate cases (of people getting fired after being caught updating their status’ with morning-after-the-night-before gossip when they’d pulled a sicky claiming to be dying of something very contagious) in general, however, the worst that comes from surfing Facebook for too long is a missed deadline or seven or just a severe loss of social life/will to live.

There is a more sinister side creeping up on this lighthearted past-time, however, which is only set to grow as more and more of the world get connected.

The horrific murder of 17-year-old, Ashleigh Hall, dubbed the ‘Facebook killing’ is one of the most tragic of its kind. A man currently awaits conviction for kidnapping and killing Ashleigh who was a trainee nanny, after she went missing having told her parents she was going to stay with a friend.

The man in question was already on the sex offenders register, yet could portray himself as whatever he chose, be anything he wanted to whoever would listen; roaming the internet for vulnerable women to pry on.

Since the boom of MySpace in the early noughties, there has been no end of news stories about young girls running away with men they met online, and with the rise of mobile internet, its only going to get harder to keep tabs on childreen and teen’s online behaviour; it’s no longer merely a case of keeping an eye on the family computer. Like every new bit of shiny technology, social networking has it’s pro’s and con’s, but with such a large risk looming for the younger generation, is it worth attempting to prevent people like Chapman getting online? Is it even something which could be policed? Probably not.
It seems this fashion could go one of two ways; it’ll either be over as quick as it started and we’ll find something else to occupy our dinner hours, or it’ll continue to grow until it truly is a large portion of out of the metaphorical pie that is life. Chances are the latter will occur.

It is not only the younger generation that need to watch out, either. Long gone are the days of catching someone’s eyes over the bowls lawn or clashing dentures at the dance hall; the older generation are also logging on now more than ever to find online love with sites such as Plenty of Fish and Match.com, aswell as the more media-savvy younger generation. Again we are seeing more and more stories of people being scammed by their online acquaintances. It seems everyone is vulnerable.

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