Every parent knows that teenagers like their privacy. It seems that overnight, a child that once begged for “just one more” bedtime story can morph into a moody teenager with a “Keep Out” sign on their bedroom door. This leaves parents out of the loop and often unaware of what is going on behind closed doors.
The social media saturated world of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram presents threats to online privacy and safety that must be discussed between parent and child. Teenagers often don’t think about the ramifications of posting personal information online, which means parents must educate themselves and their children about online privacy. Parents should consider taking a few steps to protect their teenager’s online privacy.
A no-brainer. Always read and adjust privacy settings on all social media sites that children use. Privacy settings are constantly evolving so they should be revisited often to ensure maximum protection. It’s important to select the highest level of privacy for all social media websites, especially for children under 18.
While it’s encouraging that 60 percent of teenagers keep their profiles private, that means 40 percent of teenagers have public profiles. This means that anybody can access photos and see each time the user posts something online. Recent statistics show that around 17 percent of teenagers have been contacted online by a stranger in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. While this number may seem relatively low, there are undoubtedly instances of inappropriate contact that have not been reported by teens. This further establishes just how important privacy settings are as a means of online protection.
Think Before You Type
Teenagers use social media throughout the day, which means they are sharing quite a bit of content. While teenagers likely don’t think twice before ‘checking in’ on Facebook at the local frozen yogurt restaurant, they should. Sharing locations online is one of the most dangerous things your teen can do, especially if their social media profile is public.
It’s important to talk to your teenagers about thinking before they type. Consider who could be viewing their status and the possible outcomes if the information got into the wrong hands. Although you don’t want to raise kids to fear the world, it’s beneficial to teach them to be cautious with what they share online.
What Would Grandma Say
One of the most important lessons to instill in teenagers is about the permanence of anything posted online. Once it is out there, you can’t take it back. Even if a post is deleted it isn’t completely wiped from the Internet.
Teach teenagers to use the ‘What Would Grandma Say’ rule. This means that they shouldn’t share or post anything that they wouldn’t want their grandma to see, such as inappropriate photos or language. As unfair as it may be, by the time teens apply for college, the Internet will house a history of their online presence. Companies and colleges frequently use social media to learn about prospective employees and students; so it’s important to keep the ‘What Would Grandma Say’ rule in mind.
Naivety and lack of experience can put teens at risk on social media. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open in regards to online safety. Implement simple rules and start the conversation. While social media is a great place for someone to connect with friends, it can also be a dangerous place for oversharing personal information. Surefire ways to maintain a teenager’s online privacy: Set privacy settings high; Think before typing; Consider Grandma before posting. It’s that simple.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.