Many of today’s teens don’t remember a world without smartphones or Facebook. That means, among other things, that they don’t remember a world where there was no way to find out a friend’s current location or home address with the touch of a few buttons. It can be difficult to help teens protect their privacy online when they don’t really have a concept of what it was like to have privacy in the first place. However, revealing too much information can be dangerous for your teen. Take a look at some tips that will help you safeguard your teenager’s online privacy.
Monitor Your Teen’s Social Media Profiles
Learning to use social media privacy settings is a good start.
When your teen signs up for a service like Facebook or Twitter, make sure that you take a look at what they put in their profile. Even with strict privacy settings, information that you don’t want public may end up being available to other users on the site. Facebook in particular is notorious for changing their users’ privacy settings during site updates, leaving information exposed until the user realizes it and changes the settings back. For this reason, it’s better if your teen doesn’t put sensitive information, like your home address, in their profiles, even if they intend to keep it hidden from public view.
Beware of Geolocation Apps
Geolocation technology can be both a blessing and a curse. It can allow your teen to navigate safely home from an unfamiliar location or find the restaurant they’re looking for. On the other hand, geolocation can also allow your teen to be visible to people who shouldn’t know their location.
Keep a close eye on the apps your teen is downloading to their smartphone. Teach them to avoid anonymous chat apps, like Kik, that use geolocation services to allow users to connect with other users in their area. It’s never a good idea for a teen to advertise their location to anonymous users.
Stay Alert For Your Teen’s Name
Set up a Google alert for your teenager’s name. It’s easy and free to do, and it will help ensure that you know right away if your teen’s name starts coming up online. Make sure to include any spelling variations on your child’s name, as well as any nicknames your child uses regularly.
Make sure your teen understands that you’re trying to keep them safe.
One of the most important things that you can do is communicate with your teenager. Often, teens don’t think about things like online privacy, and it’s up to you to make sure they’re educated. They need to know, for example, that anything they post online, whether it’s a status update, a picture, or a video, is likely out there for good. Even if they decide later to take it down, someone may have already downloaded or taken a screenshot of the original. That’s why your teen should never post anything that they aren’t comfortable having out there permanently.
Your teen may also not realize that prospective employers, college admissions officers, future landlords, and all kinds of other people will search their name to find out more about them. If their name ever becomes associated with, for example, a viral post, it will show up during each one of these searches — another good reason for your teen to avoid posting anything they’re not prepared to live with forever.
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