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Online Privacy and Teens: Help Them Care if They Don't

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facebook teenBefore you read this article, stop and picture yourself as a 16 year old.  Now that you’ve recovered from the trauma of that, think about this question: what thoughts consumed your time – your favorite band, your first car, your first love, your first job, your first password?  Certainly not the latter, and you most likely weren’t thinking about online privacy issues.

It’s no surprise then that today’s teens don’t think about them much either, although they do more than most of us ever had to.  The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey entitled Teens, Social Media, and Privacy and found a variety of interesting statistics.

Teens share more about themselves on social media sites than they did according to the previous survey from 2006.  A few of the more significant ones:

  • 91% post a photo of themselves (up from 79%)
  • 71% post their school name (up from 49%)
  • 53% post their email address (up from 29%)
  • 20% post their cell phone number (up from 2%)

Some new questions revealed that teens also post other potentially risky information:

  • 92% post their real name
  • 82% post their birth date
  • 24% post videos of themselves
  • 16% have set their profile to automatically include their location in posts

The good news is that while teens are sharing more, they are also becoming more aware of privacy concerns; 60% of teen Facebook users set their profiles to private.  In addition, 89% of those users indicated it’s “not difficult at all” or “not too difficult” to set privacy controls.

Teens also manage their profiles in other ways to help control their reputation:

  • 59% have deleted or edited a previous post
  • 53% have deleted comments from others
  • 74% have deleted people from their network or friends list
  • 26% have posted false information to help protect their privacy

While some of these statistics would seem to indicate that teens are becoming more aware of protecting their privacy and reputation, there are still far too many that are just not concerned.  In fact, just 9% responded that they were “very concerned” and 31% were “somewhat concerned that some of the information they share on social networking sites might be accessed by third parties like advertisers or businesses without their knowledge.”  Undoubtedly, some of this lack of concern comes from simple, blissful teenage ignorance.  One teen that participated in a focus group discussion said, “Anyone who isn’t friends with me cannot see anything about my profile except my name and gender.  I don’t believe that [Facebook] would do anything with my info.”

In contrast to this, 81% of parents are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about what advertisers can learn about their children’s online behavior.  Too bad it’s not 100%, but if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re one of the 81%.  Because you care, and because your children quite likely do not, it may fall to you to help them be safe online.  We’ve addressed this many times in the past (in articles referenced below), but it’s so important that we wanted to revisit it.  The most basic steps:

  • Have a frank discussion about what concerns you. Discuss how advertisers use the information they can easily garner when we use social media, and warn them (AGAIN AND AGAIN!) about how strangers can access it, too.  Our Summer School for Parents article addresses the specifics in case you missed it.
  • Teach your child how to play it smart on Facebook.  We addressed this in our Facebook Privacy article with some detailed action items.
  • Check out our Smartphone Survival Guide and Facebook Safety Survival Guide if you want more specifics.

It may be hard to pull your teens off their social media sites long enough to have these discussions, but it will be worth the effort to protect their online privacy.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and professional speaker on social media privacy. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Visa, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Your Kids Safe Online?

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As a parent you are often worried about what your kids are being exposed to on the Internet. Apparently so are Facebook and the PTA. They have teamed up to teach parents and children about responsible Internet use. They plan to cover cyber-bullying, internet safety and security and “citizenship online,” according to a news release.

“Nothing is more important to us than the well-being of the people, especially the many teenagers, who use Facebook,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer.

Facebook is the number one social media site with over 500 million users and a minimum age requirement of 13. Even that requirement can be easily fudged because Facebook has no way of verifying a user’s age besides asking for their birth date when they register. Parents are having trouble deciding whether to let their children join Facebook prematurely and what they should be cautious of if they do so.

Learn more on Protecting Your Children Online.

It is important to be educated when dealing with any form of social media or social networking website. Social networking is immensely powerful and is here for the long run, but we must learn to harness and control it. You should know the ins and outs, pros and cons, risks and rewards to using these online tools. Because teens and children don’t necessarily have the life experiences to recognize the risks, parents must educate themselves and pass that knowledge on with open and honest discussions on Facebook and Online Safety.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Experts after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Facebook Safety Survival Guide

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Introducing the Newest Guide to Protect you & your family’s identity:

Facebook Safety
Survival Guide

Includes the

Parents’ Guide to Online Safety

Order your copy Today to get our special introductory pricing of $12.95 or order the Ebook below for only $9.95 !

There is no final word on how to use Facebook safely. Here’s why: social networking and the web change too quickly. The social network you use today is not the same one you will use tomorrow or next month. The privacy settings, functionality, connectability and features are constantly evolving, which means that almost no one has a handle on every aspect of this topic. Those who tell you that they have the final answer are probably selling you something you shouldn’t buy.

This Survival Guide is an evolving document that I started writing for my young daughters and my employees, and is an attempt to give you a snapshot of some of the safety and privacy issues as they exist right now. Social networking, texting, instant messaging, video messaging, blogging – these are all amazing tools that our kids and employees use natively, as part of their everyday lives. In fact, they probably understand social networking better than most adults and executives. But they don’t necessarily have the life experiences to recognize the risks. I’d like to make their online vigilance and discretion just as native, so that they learn to protect the personal information they put on the web before it becomes a problem. Social networking is immensely powerful and is here for the long run, but we must learn to harness and control it.

So whether you are reading this to help protect your own online presence, or the reputation and sensitive data inside of your business, or to bulletproof your kids from some of the harmful forces on the web, the Facebook Safety Survival Guide should get you started.

This Facebook Safety Guide includes:

  • Action Item Checklist for Facebook Safety
  • Action Item Checklist for Parents’ Guide to Online Safety

Part I: Facebook Safety Survival Guide

  • Protecting People We Care About
  • Social Networking’s Secret Weapon: Trust
  • Fifteen Hazards of Social Networking
  • Fifteen Steps to Safer Facebooking
  • 10 Types of Information to Keep Private
  • Customize Your Privacy Settings: Control Who Can See Your Personal Information & A Tool to Test Your Facebook Privacy
  • How Do I Delete My Facebook Account?
  • How To Deactivate Your Facebook Account
  • How To Delete Your Facebook Account

Part II: Parents’ Guide to Online Safety

  • Socializing Online: Sexting & Cyberbullying
  • Communicating Online & Phishing
  • Mobile Phones: Socializing and Communicating on the Go & Texting
  • Protect Your Computers: P2P File Sharing & Parental Controls

© Copyright 2010 John D. Sileo All Rights Reserved

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Experts after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.