What is social networking?

Social networking refers to the use of online social networks such as Facebook to communicate with other people. A social network can include blogs and other ways to share text and ideas, groups that you can join, private messaging, a chat facility and  file- or photo-sharing functions.

Online social networking sites such as Facebook allow individuals to communicate with one another wherever they are in the world. They also let you connect with people with similar interests or relationships and share things, including websites, photos, likes and dislikes.

Each user on a social networking site will have a profile page and will usually have some control over what they allow people to see. Some people share with everybody, while others take advantage of privacy settings and allow access only to those known to them.

Social networking's key benefits and features

  • Joining is usually free.
  • You can communicate with anybody who has an account, no matter where they are.
  • It is inter-generational – on many sites, people of all ages communicate with friends and family.
  • You can share photos digitally, allowing friends and family access.
  • It is available 24 hours a day, every day.
  • It can usually be accessed via a username and password on any computer with internet access.

Debbie Brixey is a Digital Unite tutor based in south London.