FYI: Online Safety = part kid/part parent

As it turns out, most teenagers are taking to protect themselves online from the most obvious areas of risk, according to the report. Many actively manage their personal information as they try to maintain
important information confined to their network of trusted friends while at the same time creating content for their profiles and making new friends.
The report indicates that most teens believe that some
information should be shared while other information needs to be protected.Not altogether surprisingly, the report also suggests that teens do face potential risks in cyberspace. Indeed, 32 percent of online teenagers and 43 percent of social-networking teens have been contacted online by complete strangers, and 17 percent of online teens and 31 percent of social-networking teens have “friends” on their social network profile who they have not met in person.
The following are statistics relating to how teens use social-networking sites and how they handle related privacy issues:

  • Fifty-five percent of online teens have set up online profiles, while 66 percent of teens with profiles limit access to their profiles in some way. What’s more, 46 percent of teens whose profiles can be accessed by anyone online provide at least some false information on their profiles to protect themselves.
  • Ninety-one percent of social-networking teens use networks to stay in touch with people they already know, while 49 percent of social-networking teens use networks to make new friends.
  • Thirty-two percent of online teens have been contacted by strangers, and 21 percent of the teens who have been contacted by strangers have engaged an online stranger to find out more information about that person. Also, 23 percent of teens who have been contacted by a stranger online report that they felt scared or uncomfortable as a result. (This translates into 7 percent of all online teens.)

Teens do post various items on their profiles, as follows:

  • Eighty-two percent of teens who have created profiles have included their first names. Seventy-nine percent have included photos of themselves, and 66 percent have included photos of their friends.
  • Sixty-one percent have included the name of their city or town, while 49 percent have included the name of their school.Forty percent have included their instant-message screen name. Forty percent have streamed audio to their profile, and 39 percent have linked to their blog. Twenty-nine percent have included their e-mail address, and 29 percent have included their last name
  • Twenty-nine percent have included videos, while 2 percent have included their cell phone numbers.
  • Six percent of online teens and 11 percent of profiling teens have posted their first and last names on public profiles.
  • Three percent of online teens and 5 percent of profiling teens have disclosed their full names, photos of themselves and the town where they live in public profiles.

The report demonstrates that not all teens rampantly are disclosing their personally identifiable information. However, many teenagers, across different categories, do disclose such private data. And while
only a small percentage discloses their full names along with photos of themselves and the towns where they live, this small percentage still represents a large number of actual teenagers. Plus, the fact that practically one-third of online teenagers have been contacted by complete strangers is troubling.

Notwithstanding the independence that teenagers crave, parents must be vigilant when it comes to educating their teenagers as to how to protect themselves in cyberspace. Oftentimes, teenagers understand information technology better than their parents; thus, before parents can educate their teens, they must educate themselves.

For some teenagers, education may not enough. For them, parents should do their best to observe how their teens behave online. One simple solution is to keep the family computer in a public area, such as the living room, so
that parents can keep an eye on how their teens surf the Web. Some parents as a matter of technology actually monitor the online movements of their teenagers. Other parents (and certainly their teenagers) would view this as an invasion of teens’ privacy.

Are kids playing it safe online? | Perspectives | CNET News.com

Okay… so yes. We’re talking about teens here– ages 12 (even though in my book, that’s NOT a teen) – 18. I understand that ‘teen’ is about exploring individuality and responsibility and adulthood.

But that can’t stop me from CRINGING when i see info about kids STILL keeping personally identifiable information in their social networking profile for friend/stranger (or “new friend”) contact.

Things to remember:

1. Yes, OTHERS are always surfing profiles to make “new friends” (strangers = danger, yes, but also… in this day & age, people are genuinely eager to meet new people)… HOWEVER– it would be wise to remember that YOUR child could be one of these random-friending-people-surfers. Why? Because your child thinks he/she is harmless/normal, not one of those crazy weirdo stalkers… And if they’re such a harmless/normal surfer (and anyone would want to be friends with them, naturally) what could it hurt to ‘friend’ someone?

– It is VERY easy to surf new individuals while looking for old friends in social networking platforms. Why? Because when you search, you are given several ‘options’… if someone’s profile has a sparkle that catches your eye, you’re going to friend them.

– Kids don’t think of “friending” as REAL. It’s a) racking up the popularity in #s, b) Not face to face or voice to voice, c) a great way to keep an interesting profile handy (maybe a funny blog or a cute kid, etc)

2. Keep HAMMERING HOME the idea that a) The more information you place on your profile, the easier it is for people to TRACK YOU DOWN, b) Any information can come back to haunt you, c) People who are NOT your friends could be tallying up facts & info (aka, a little paranoia could help with your kids)

– I’ve already mentioned that I denied a potential hire because of the easily accessible journal he has live… it had information that condemned him to me (sounds harsh, yes, but he didn’t get the job now did he?)

The more live info you have, cell phones/emails/IM NAMES(!) the easier it is for unwanted individuals to harass and/or contact (even ex-boyfriend/girlfriends, people at school, etc)

– Not to mention, computer bots troll the web looking for random emails to collect and spam.

– GOOGLE YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILD’S NAME. Google, google, google. Why? Because it’s the quickest way to see who is talking about your child and where. And it’s just good policy in general. BE IN CONTROL OF YOUR WEB DESTINY!

3. No matter how “independent” you want your teen to feel… internet access is a 50/50 deal.

– Parents should show interest in their kid’s web surfings. Keep open communication. Try to minimize all secret hiding places (because a teen’s profile becomes a secret hiding place… like a burn book or best friend hideout). If your child knows that YOU know about profiles they’ll a) be a bit more conscientious what they make public, b) might be more apt to share problems & issues connected their friends (issues at school tied to issues on their profiles)

Internet is a PRIVILEGE. Like a car or a cell phone. If they can’t act appropriately and show the required about of responsibility or maturity… then perhaps that privilege is NOT for them, ya savvy?

4. There have been a few articles lately talking about how social networking can help your teen become a better entrepreneur. Social Networks are gateways to the world– where MANY possibilities lie. Charge.org, Dollars for Darfur, etc– perhaps partner with your teen on a social network site that might help them become a better citizen– both on web and off.

5. Take some interest in the SAFETY info & Privacy Policies of the sites your child is surfing. Be proactive in knowing who is behind the screen & what their goals & objectives for their site is… I’m a community manager for U13… I’ve gotten 5 emails in the last 4 months asking about safety of our site and our procedures. That’s it. 5. We have THOUSANDS of kids cruising our site.

You want to know who is babysitting your kid, teaching your child, coaching your tater tots, right? Well, their just as open and REAL online as they are off… remember that.

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