Nearly 92 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 use the Internet on a regular basis and 71 percent of these digital natives have at least one social media account, according to a recent study by Pew Research. It’s no secret that Facebook is one of the most widely-used social media sites, and it’s very likely that your kids will create an account for themselves soon if they haven’t already. Here are a few things to talk about with them to ensure they understand the real world implications of the choices they make online.
Nothing is Private Online
While most adults understand it’s unwise to give out personal information to strangers on the Internet, this can be a foreign concept for young people. When creating an account, Facebook has multiple fields in the “about” section that ask for the user’s phone number, email address, and birth date. While it may seem innocuous, It’s important that your kids understand not to post any unnecessary personal information. Since any small detail could aid potential cyber criminals in identity theft, you’ll want to be as guarded as possible when it comes to personal information.
Just because the computer leaves physical distance between your child and potential bullies doesn’t mean cyberbullying is any less harmful than bullying in person. According to Consumer Reports, over one million children experienced a form of bullying over the Internet in 2011, and 81 percent of young people believe that bullying online is easier to get away with than doing it face to face.
The best way to deal with cyberbullies is to be intimately aware of Facebook’s privacy settings and understand how to block other users. If any harassment comes your child’s way, they should know how to deal with it before it develops into a situation that negatively affects their social life and general well-being.
A recent study by the Telegraph found that four out of 10 teenagers were duped into giving sensitive financial information to cyber criminals. The best way to protect against these kinds of attacks is to have a strong password that cannot be easily guessed. It’s often recommended to use a passphrase, which is a sequence of words, instead of a single password, as it’s much more difficult to crack. You’ll also want to enable Facebook’s “login approvals” feature, which sends a code to your cell phone when you attempt to access your account from a new computer, phone, or browser. This ensures you’re always aware when someone tries to log in to your account, and it provides an extra layer of security against hackers.
Cybercrime techniques are always evolving. The best way to stay up to date on the latest security trends is to get information from a trusted industry leader on their company blog or social media pages. For example, LifeLock uses their Facebook page to post resources for the latest identity theft news as well as tips and best practices.
The Internet is “Real Life” Too
One of the most important things about social media sites that teenagers need to understand is that whatever they choose to post reflects on them personally and has real world consequences. Even if your child’s profile is set to private, any one of his Facebook friends has the ability to capture a screenshot that will eternalize anything from an offensive joke to pictures of underage drinking. A Facebook wall is a public space, and any posts that go on to it should be composed with that in mind.
It’s not only their social life you’ll be saving. Ninety-three percent of hiring managers say they review a potential candidates social profiles before making a decision, so good online reputation management skills can help your teen find a job once he enters the workforce.