Staying connected through social media is an increasing trend.
Online social networks are a way to stay connected with friends and family, bring people together with common interests, create a platform to share their lives with the rest of the world, while games and applications provide entertainment and education.
"When used right, Facebook® can be a good thing because people can communicate all over the world, but with kids you really have to monitor it," said Det. Lt. Scott Tucker with the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office.
Social media and Internet use is available everywhere from cell phones, gaming devices, reading devices and tablets.
Businesses are able to reach a bigger audience through social media. According to webtrends. about.com, businesses have an advantage to social media when using it as a marketing tool. Social networks are at the core of "social media marketing," which is marketing products through social media sites like social networks, blogs, widgets and other social websites.
However, users may experience disadvantages to social media through cyberbullying, defamation, hacking, sexting or cyberstalking.
"You have to start talking about appropriate technology use early and often and build trust, so that when there is a problem – whether it is being bullied or seeing a disturbing image – your child will talk to you about it," said Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D. of The American Psychological Association.
Rosen encouraged parents to assess their child's activities on social networking sites and discuss removing inappropriate content or connections to people who appear problematic. Parents also need to play attention to the online trends and the latest technologies, websites and applications children are using, he said.
"Communication is the crux of parenting. You need to talk to your kids, or rather, listen to them," Rosen said. "The ratio of parent-listen to parent-talk should be at least five-to-one. Talk for one minute and listen for five."
"What I tell parents is that you have to communicate with your kids and have a trust factor," Tucker said. "It's not all bad, but it's how you use it (Internet)."
According to research website theresearchpedia.com, the balance of good and evil in the world needs to be maintained. With the Internet, some things that can lead to potential social disaster are hacking and defamation.
In a survey conducted by PCCWorld, only 40 percent of users manage their privacy settings to deter identity theft and hacking.
"We see hacking all the time," Tucker said.
According to theresearchpedia.com, social media's correct and efficient usage is completely dependent on how it is managed.
People are faced with a different type of confrontation on social media than they were 10 or 12 years ago, according to Tucker.
"If you talked about someone, you would tell them to their face or your friends and it helped restrained from attacking other people," he said. "What it has done now, it has really opened the door for cowardly acts."
Tucker said there are laws on the books such as cyberstalking, sexting and cyberbullying.
"A big thing that people need to do is use respect about things that they will post about someone," Tucker said.