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Students: Do You Really Want to Be on Facebook?

It's no secret that college admissions counselors have been searching out Facebook accounts for deeper insights into the lives of applicants. But once applicants become students, how much time should they spend on online networking sites, and how much information should they post about themselves? Should they even bother being on Facebook?

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By Erin Tigro

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Practically every person, business and organization has a Facebook account. For many, it has become a way to keep in touch with old friends, make new ones, stay connected with family members and self-promote. Users can upload and view photos and videos, post comments, play games, follow groups, send and receive event invites or network with like-minded individuals. However, with all the benefits come some potential risks and drawbacks.

Are Privacy Settings Enough These Days?

Even with the strictest privacy settings, you're still providing tons of personal information to your cyber-circle of 'friends.' Think about it. How many followers do you have - 50, 100, 200? That's a lot of people seeing what you post. Also consider that your privacy choices may not be as closely adhered to by others, who can easily upload your photo themselves and tag you for their viewing audience. For those of you who haven't adjusted your settings to private, you may be in for a rude awakening. Recently, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University was able to use technology to identify strangers from their Facebook photos and, in some instances, use programs to unmask Social Security numbers.

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Facebook Affecting Academics?

Think about how much time you spend on Facebook and similar networking sites. How much of that could instead be spent learning and improving your grades? Researchers from Ohio State University and Ohio Dominican University analyzed more than 200 undergraduate and graduate students and found that Facebook users studied less and had lower GPAs than those students who didn't use the site. Users spent less than five hours studying (compared to 11-15 hours for non-Facebook users) and had a half-point to full-point lower GPA. While the study doesn't specifically note Facebook as the end-all cause, the correlation is interesting.

Social Networking or Psuedo-Socializing Phenomenon?

To top things off, have you wondered how much time you've spent having digital interactions versus physical ones? Do you spend more time posting comments than having intimate conversations with friends and family? Sure, in a digital age Facebook is convenient, and it may even be a necessity in some cases, but is it taking over real social interactions?

Should schools be able to punish students for their Facebook posts? Read on to learn more.

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