The internet has changed the way we connect to friends and family and meet new people. It has removed the need for face-to-face or even telephone contact. We can now get in touch instantly with others anywhere in the world.
Key to this change are social networks – websites that let you chat and interact with others online. You can use social networking websites to keep in touch with friends and family, as well as meet new friends with shared interests, hobbies or causes. There are hundreds of different social networking websites available. Some are designed to attract people who share a common interest or agenda, while larger sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, attract millions of users.
Your profile page
Most social networking websites ask you to create a profile, so you can share information about yourself with other members of the site. Your profile starts with key details such as your age and gender, and you can add more information such as your hobbies, interests, likes and dislikes.
Social networks offer lots of different ways to interact with others. You can send someone an email via the website, post messages and chat live online, share photos and video clips with others, and even play online games such as chess or Scrabble.
Who uses social networks?
People of all ages use social networking websites. You may join a social network because your friends or family are already members or because you’re looking to meet people who share a common interest. Once you’ve joined a social network, you can then to expand your group of contacts by inviting other members of the site to become friends with you online.
Which social network should I join?
There are lots of social networking websites and choosing the right one for you can be a challenge. If lots of your friends are already using a particular service, this alone might be enough to make you sign up. But if you’re looking to meet new people, or to connect to people that share common interests, consider a site that’s targeted at a particular demographic.
Join a social network
You can visit a social networking website via your web browser in the same way as you would visit any website. You don’t need specialist software to use a social networking sites, although some encourage you to download new applications or browser plug-ins.
Step 1 Go to the home page of the social networking website you want to join, say Facebook.
Step 2 Click on Sign Up or Register (this will differ depending on the site).
Step 3 You’ll need to enter some personal details to get started. The type of information you’re required to give varies depending on the website.
Step 4 Enter a username or email address and a password.
Step 5 Once you’ve completed the registration, a confirmation email is usually sent to your email address. Click on the link provided in this email to activate your account.
Step 6 You can now log in to your account to begin finding friends and adding information to your profile.
A friend may invite you to join a social networking site to which they already belong, in which case they’ve already found you. You can search for a friend by manually entering their name into a Search box on the website. Alternatively, some social networking websites will search their sites for people listed in your email address book and let you know if they’re members of the site. You can send them an invitation via the website asking them to become a friend or contact.