What do you think of when you hear the word PRIVACY?
For many people it is common to think of hidden diaries, closed doors, and secure personal information. Within the last year a lot of attention has been drawn to privacy and the implication technology can have on a person’s privacy. The infamous celebrity nude leaks, hackers stealing credit card numbers from large retailers, and the increasing prevalence of cyberbullying have led many people to reflect on how much privacy we really have.
Privacy In The Digital Age
The Internet has revolutionized how we conduct business, how we communicate, and how we store personal information. Just a few years ago, we could store all our personal documents and statistics in a safe location in our home. If someone wanted to dig up incriminating pictures or steal your identity, they had to gain access to your house or rummage through your trash.
Those days are long gone, because now everyone banks online, shares photos, and communicates through Social Media. Sure they have firewalls, security questions, privacy settings, and disappearing message apps to make us feel like our data is tucked safely away. However, privacy is fleeting.
Anything posted online has the potential to be uncovered or shared. Many people have a false sense of security that their pictures, posts, or personal data will remain private. Technology and the ability to screenshot has managed to circumvent passwords and security questions, leaving us vulnerable to prying eyes. Online privacy is basically a myth we have been told over the years.
What Does This Mean For Parents?
Parents are put in a precarious position when it comes to raising teenagers and children in a media rich environment. The lure of fast paced 24/7 connectivity offered by Smartphones, texts, Social Media, and the Internet have caused many children to prefer this means of communication over face-to-face interactions. Children are using devices to share images, interact with each other, use disappearing messages, and chat with each other in ways never before seen.
According to PEW Research, teens are engaged on Social Media more than ever and share increasing amounts of details about themselves. It is estimated that only 9% of teens are worried about other people’s access to their information. Only a handful of children deleted posts, tags, or information from their accounts to secure their privacy.
Third party sharing might not seem like a big deal, but the same study revealed 17% of teens have experienced online contact that left them feeling frightened or worried. To compound matters, over half of all teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying and only 11% will seek help from an adult.
11 Ways To Help Protect A Teen’s Privacy
Parents have experience to understand how valuable it is to protect a person’s privacy. Cyberbullies, online predators, and identity thieves are real threats trolling behind screens, but there are also future implications that teens might not consider. Employers and colleges have been known to peruse Social Media to garner a good glimpse of how a person behaves or conducts themselves.
Here are eleven suggestions for parents to help teens stay safe online:
- Foster Social Media etiquette skills.
- Encourage children to only friend people they really know.
- Warn about the dangers of meeting up with strangers or people they met online.
- Teach children how to set their privacy settings.
- Keep school schedules, phone numbers, birthdates, and other vital information off Social Media.
- Stress that they should never post photos or comments that they don’t want other people to see.
- Every year complete a credit score check to make sure your child’s identity hasn’t been compromised.
- Limit the use of technology in the home to family living areas- keep them out of the bedroom.
- Start a conversation about online issues.
- Be aware of a child’s accounts, usernames, passwords, and sites they frequent.
- Be on the lookout for signs of cyberbullying or texts that contain hidden messages.
Here’s The Good News
Involved parents and increasing awareness about online privacy are making an impact. Over 40% of teens are now taking some precautions to protect their privacy by using settings and discretion over who they friend. These findings are welcome news to parents and educators, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Ensuring children know how to handle themselves online will allow them many more happy Snapchats and Instagram photos to come.