Our teens have never experienced life without computers and the worldwide web has brought the world into their bedrooms and palms. Technology has also taken their lives into other people’s worlds and palms. It is imperative that teens understand how to protect themselves on the internet.
Staying safe online is about more than avoiding cyberbullying — internet safety is also about avoiding exclusion, identity theft, scams, and stalkers. Information you share by email, in online surveys, in chat rooms, in forums, on discussion boards, and on online dating and other social media sites essentially becomes a permanent part of your social media presence. Think Packaged For Success™ for a moment. Your social media presence is a part of your “package”.
Someone somewhere has access to almost every piece of information you share online and every online action you take. Here’s another way to think of your social media presence. What you post can be sold to corporations, bought by scammers, and misconstrued by important people. It rarely disappears; it is stacked and stacked to create a comprehensive package of your image and lifestyle. Small details about what you look like, where you live, work and go to school, socio-economic status, emotional well-being, and the people you are close to are added together to become a part of your package. Your comments, activities, and photos once posted on the internet float in cyberspace long after being deleted. You have no way of controlling or finding out whom else has downloaded your information. There is a strong possibility that you can be judged in the future by online data that you deleted.
Let me end this post with “3 Online Nevers”:
- Never give out your personal information such as name, address, telephone, city, or school to strangers and never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone you meet online.
- Be careful of the personal details you post on “friendly” social media sites.
- Never post anything on social media and websites that you would be ashamed for your parents, pastor, principal, teacher, or employer to see.
Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic enrichment opportunities to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.