National Consumers League

Technology

NCL Technology Issues

Social networking and your teen

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Social networks are online communities where people gather to share interests, find new ones, or build relationships. In these communities, teens are:

 

  • Sharing information. Social networking sites provide teens with personal online space to share art, writings, photos and videos. These spaces can become a unique reflection of who they are.
  • Hanging out. There are many ways to maintain and build relationships – chat rooms, instant messaging, email, and blogs.
  • Making friends. A teen’s network expands by meeting their friends’ friends. An ever-expanding circle gives many loosely-connected people access of your teen’s personal information.

What are some of the risks?

  • Abuse of personal information. Sharing personal information with people you don't really know increases the risk of being located offline or that the information will be used for other unscrupulous purposes.
  • Damage to your reputation. Information posted to the Internet is permanent and can be viewed by college admissions offices and future employers.
  • Cyber bullying. Teens can be cyber bullyied, or harassed online through blog comments, email, or instant messages. Sometimes what teens share online is used against them.

What should parents do?

  • Talk to your teen. Maintain ongoing discussions about who their online friends are as well as responsible use of the Internet, including what they share and with whom.
  • Help them protect their privacy. Most social networking sites offer privacy preferences that allow users to choose who can view their information.
  • Monitor your teens’ name. Actively monitor your teens’ name and profile on the Internet to see what they have posted or what has been posted about them to help spot potential problems early on.
  • Utilize parental controls to stay informed. Many parental controls software lets you know what your child is doing online. You can also limit where they go on the Internet, who they communicate with and even the time in which they spend online.