Talk To Your Teens About Online Privacy

With all that has happened in the last few years regarding online privacy, or lack thereof, you’d think that Americans would be hyper vigilant about protecting themselves online. Consider the following:

  • Programs were put in place by the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct surveillance on private communications
  • Dozens of celebrities’ cloud accounts and/or phones and social media accounts were hacked and nude photos were leaked
  • We see weekly reports of Revenge Porn incidents
  • Frequent incidents of hacking and identity theft

You might assume that the current trend would be for people to be extremely diligent about keeping their digital lives as secure as possible. It turns out that’s not the case. Pew Research has released a new study that shows that only 34% of survey respondents have taken steps to make their online identity more secure.

Kids Share Profile PasswordsOf those who had taken steps to safeguard their privacy:

  • 17% changed social media privacy settings
  • 15% use social media less often
  • 14% use their cell phone less often
  • 13% have uninstalled apps
  • 13% have self-censored their online communication

The survey specifically focused on privacy attitudes in light of the NSA surveillance programs, but overall, it seems that Americans are unwilling or unable to improve the privacy of their online profiles and communication. For some, the issue at hand is difficulty. 54% of respondent said that improving their online privacy would be somewhat or very difficult.

There is no reason for your teen to be part of that 54%. Most teens today are digital natives, and with a little effort firming up online protections should not be a problem. You can work with your teen to ensure the following steps are taken:

  • Passwords are secure, unique and not shared with friends
  • Understanding and using the privacy protections afforded by social media sites, apps and your phone
  • Assume that all social media posts and digital communications are permanent and could be seen by people other than the intended recipient
  • Keep personally identifying information offline
  • Be very wary of incoming emails and text messages from unknown parties

With a little effort, teens can do their thing online and on their phones without having to fear most privacy risks.




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