Social networking is the practice of expanding the number of one's business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals. While social networking has gone on almost as long as societies themselves have existed, the unparalleled potential of the Internet to promote such connections is only now being fully recognized and exploited, through Web-based groups established for that purpose.
Based on the six degrees of separation concept (the idea that any two people on the planet could make contact through a chain of no more than five intermediaries), social networking establishes interconnected Internet communities (sometimes known as personal networks) that help people make contacts that would be good for them to know, but that they would be unlikely to have met otherwise. In general, here's how it works: you join one of the sites and invite people you know to join as well. Those people invite their contacts to join, who in turn invite their contacts to join, and the process repeats for each person. In theory, any individual can make contact through anyone they have a connection to, to any of the people that person has a connection to, and so on.
The Dangers of Social Networking:
While the number of ways to interact via the Internet are rapidly increasing, so are the types of online social networking dangers. Long gone are the days of innocently thinking that the individual who you are conversing with online is really who he or she claims to be. Children are especially susceptible to online social networking dangers.
There are many kinds of online social networking dangers. Individuals -- both adults and teens -- need to be fully aware of what type of information can be traced back to their person through simple conversations in a chat room. For instance, telling a virtual stranger that you live in a certain town and attend a certain high school can lead that person straight to your classroom. But there are other types of dangers too. People have been known to have their identity stolen, be stalked by sexual predators, or have their photos taken from their online profiles and used in unauthorized ways. People also need to realize that just because you've chatted with someone online, doesn't mean you really know that person.