Setting up Facebook the safest way

Amanda Morrow

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Anne Haas, an assistant professor of sociology, offered some insight as to why students are less cautious about posts with suggestive material on social media websites.

“We now know that young people’s brains — especially the parts of the brain that are about decision making and controlling impulses — in many people, those things are not developed in full until their mid 20s,” she said. “If that’s the case, it’s not like you’re excusing the behavior of an 18-year-old or 20-year-old, but there’s at least something; there’s some rational reasons why you might be seeing what you’re seeing.”

Haas said students who may have a speech disorder or may be shy in social situations are able to speak out and connect with others online where they don’t have to use verbal communication.

“Communicating in an online format may be a way to get some people to communicate at all,” she said.

Psychology professor Deborah Jones provided her take in a written statement on why students post information so freely.

“People are social animals. They like to feel connected to others and social networking offers instant access to thousands, maybe millions, of other people,” she said.

“It also feels safe and intimate because you are sitting in the comfort of your own home environment rather than out in a strange, public place,” she added.

Jones also said students might talk on social media sites if they feel uncomfortable doing so in person.

“Face-to-face communication involves body language cues as well as verbal interaction,” she said. “Also, there may be immediate negative feedback in the form of a frown or a look of confusion or disinterest. When online, a person can take his/her time considering exactly how to word statements.

“In-person communication often requires much quicker responses.”

Although most students agreed that they try to keep their Facebook profiles as private as possible, not all succeed.

Suzanne, the mother of an incoming freshman whose name has been changed to ensure privacy, said that her son posted pictures on his Facebook page of inappropriate graffiti at a public park that resulted in police contact. The police considered the picture on her son’s Facebook as enough evidence to say he was the one who drew the graffiti.

“When you’re sitting on the computer on Facebook, you look at it as relating to your friends, but you gotta remember, it’s not just your friends,” Suzanne said. “You’re not sitting in front of your friends. There’s a lot of people that are connected to the same thing that are going to read and see everything you put on there.”

Media law professor Tim Smith said there are no regulations on the Internet.

“The attempts to try to regulate the Internet have all failed,” he said. “The other problem with the Internet is that it’s global; it’s not just simply the United States.”

“The world is becoming smaller and smaller,” Jones said. “It is now very easy to communicate with people from all over the globe instantly.”

How can students protect themselves from such an open community?

Facebook offers privacy options that can be accessed through a user’s homepage on After clicking on the account tab, a user can then click on privacy settings. From there, users can decide how much or little they want to share with their friends and the public.

Although these privacy measures help, Jones offered a final piece of advice of her own to Kent State students: “Don’t share anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Kent Stater.”

Contact news correspondent Amanda Morrow at [email protected].