Social Media Tips for Teens
Social media sites open up a whole new world of opportunities for both introverts and extroverts alike. Unfortunately, there will also be opportunities for embarrassment, legal problems, and occasionally, very real danger. Follow these tips to keep yourself safe on social media.
Keep your passwords private. Password protect your devices and all social media accounts, and never share these passwords with friends. An innocent prank, such as pretending to be you on Facebook, could backfire with serious consequences.
Follow your offline code of etiquette. It can be easy to forget that the people behind screen names are, well, people! Treat them the same way that you would treat others in real life. Avoid nasty arguments, threats, retaliation, and so on.
Look out for trolls. Ever feel like someone is intentionally baiting you into an argument? You would be right about that. Internet “trolls” enjoy the payoff of manipulating a random stranger until they snap. You get upset, and meanwhile they’re laughing from behind their computer screen. Arguing with trolls isn’t worth the emotional ups and downs.
Don’t post your personal information and habits. Don’t post information such as your birth date and address, and never mention daily habits that would help someone find you. Remember that information can show up in the background of pictures, too – such as street signs, house numbers, your school name, and so on.
What goes online, stays online. Anything you post online, even if you delete it later, can pop up later to haunt you. Never post anything overly personal, that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.
Beware of screenshots. There is no such thing as a private conversation online. Even a trustworthy person could screenshot conversations and use them against you later.
Everyone isn’t who they claim to be. Predators and “catfishers” can be extremely convincing. Your new friend might not be a 16-year-old girl from New Jersey… She might be a 45-year-old man who lives in the next town over. Even if someone’s identity checks out, remember that people are sometimes “nice” because they are manipulating or tricking you.
Don’t meet anyone in person. No matter how convincing someone’s act is, you can’t be sure of who you’re really going to meet. If you do develop a meaningful friendship online, and want to meet that person, do it in a public place, bring friends, and tell your parents first.
Tell your parents about strange behavior. If an online friend starts asking for too many personal details, and especially if they persistently mention topics like sex or drugs, tell your parents. There is a good chance this person does not have innocent intentions toward you.
Keep college admissions in mind… Admissions boards might check your social media profiles, and anything they see could influence their final decision. So remember that when you post personal information or opinions online!