7 Things Teens Need to Know About Social Media and Privacy

Jul 01, 2016


Times certainly have changed, haven’t they? For example, when I was a teenager, the closest thing we had to social media was a dial up internet connection with America Online (AOL). Once I discovered the amazing world of chat rooms and instant messaging, my world changed forever. How amazing was it to be able to communicate with people not only in your town and state, but eventually all over the country, and in some cases the world? My parents were not too keen on the possibility of strangers knowing anything about me, so they had some set guidelines/rules that I had to follow, or I would lose my internet privileges for good.

We can actually take some of the things our parents had taught us, and pass this information on to the teens in 2016. Social media has become almost an extension of the human body. We are so connected to the world and feel the need to disclose every single piece of information, what we are feeling good or bad, and living in an age of “transparency.” In addition, we look for approval by seeing who liked or commented on our post. While this may be ok for adults and businesses, other measures need to be taken for teens and young adults when it comes to privacy.

Here are some tips for teens and parents to retain as much privacy as possible and allow teens to connect on social media:

  • Choose screen names that mask your real name and identity.
  • Encourage or require your teen to start out by only having 10-20 friends (including you). This is a great way to teach them to ‘test the waters’.
  • Turn off location settings on all social media apps to protect wherever you post on social media.
  • Avoid the “drama” as much as possible; just because you want to drag someone’s name through the mud doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Always, think before posting and always be kind online.
  • Check all the specific privacy settings on your social media platforms and restrict who can interact with you on the specific platform. For example, set your Facebook privacy settings so only your connected friends and family can see your content/posts; everyone else needs permission from you.
  • Respect each others privacy and keep the lines of communication open and allow your parents to see your posts.
  • Use parental controls like Net Nanny® to monitor online activities and ensure safety online. Net Nanny® gives children as much freedom or control as parents chose based on easy to manage settings.

It may seem too restrictive for teens to have all these privacy settings, especially when I was that age. I thought I had no freedom with all these rules, but nowadays I understand my parents’ thought processes. I understand now why they had these rules to begin with, to protect me and keep certain details private. Everyone doesn’t need to know everything. I know the teen thought process is a little different, but kids have more resources in this digital age. With a little guidance, parent and teens can ensure privacy is not a hindrance, but a blessing in disguise.