Welcome to my Blog!

This blog was created to keep preteens and teens safe in the everchanging world of social media. You may be considering creating a profile online or perhaps you think you are an expert. This blog will help guide you as you delve into the world of social media. Read through my tips. I hope you find them helpful.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What about those photos?

You may think posting a funny photo of your friend from a class trip or house party on a social networking site is hilarious. Posting a photo of someone without their permission is in fact a violation of their privacy.  Remember to ask your friend for permission before doing so.  Nothing could be more disheartening than losing a friend because you posted that hilarious photo of them without their knowledge. Within minutes the photo could be copied and uploaded to other sites, which could create an embarrassing situation for your friend. Simply ask for permission before posting a photo. This is a common courtesy that many of us forget about.
Remember to use caution when posting photos of yourself. Do not post photos that could question your character and morals. Employers frequently check social media sites to find out more about the person they are considering for employment. It would be unfortunate to learn that you did not get a job because any employer saw your profile picture online and decided not to hire you. The photos in question are those of individuals dressed inappropriately (i.e. photos of males without a shirt on, scantily dressed females, young adults smoking, adults drinking alcohol  or engaging in inappropriate situations). Use your head and your best judgment. Remember you never know who may see you.

Don’t give out too much information

Keep your personal information general. Placing your home address on a social networking site is not a good idea. Instead of listing your entire address list the Regional area you live in (i.e. Southern California). Posting your favorite hobby or activity is harmless but uploading a video or photo of yourself at the prom in front of your home (with a clear shot of your house number in the backgroud) may compromise your privacy. Be very selective about the type of information you share with others.
After you have successfully created a profile, review the privacy policy and safety tips on the web page. The safety tips on sites such as MySpace provide teens and parents with resources, links to other websites that can protect children online.  The safety section addresses cyberbullying and provides techniques children/parents can apply if someone is being harassed online.
Review each section of your account to ensure that you have set the appropriate privacy settings.
Never broadcast that you are home alone
You may think having the house to yourself is liberating but you never know who is lurking. We all like to think our contacts or friends online have our best interests in mind but you can never underestimate who may be looking to prey on children or young adults.  Talk to you parents about the rules and your computer access while you are home alone.
Never post inappropriate language or use profanity on social networking sites
Many of us have been upset with a friend, parent or teacher at some point in our lives. Using a social networking site to vent your frustrations is not the proper channel to express your feelings. Talk to someone instead like a guidance counselor, principal or role model whom you trust to speak about your problems. Using profanity and spreading your personal business online is not advised. Airing out the family’s dirty laundry tells the online community that your house is not in order. Family disputes should not be broadcasted online but should be settled privately. Your social network should not be subjected to your family troubles. Seek professional help if necessary.

Use social networking to your advantage

Whatever networking site you choose to use please make sure you have a purpose. Do not use a site just because someone you know is using it. Have a reason for signing up to disclose information about you, your family or your future endeavors. If your reason for signing up for a site is to keep in touch with friends and family do just that. Get the most out of the free sites by communicating, networking with those you know and care about. If marketing yourself to potential employers is your goal then use a site like LinkedIn and be sure to keep your photos professional and personal information to a minimum.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ask a parent or guardian for permission to have a profile on a social networking site

If you are under the age of 18 you are a minor. Many social networking sites are targeted to teenagers and young adults; therefore, you should ask a parent or guardian before engaging in any social networking activity. After all, it was most likely your parent or guardian who even made it possible for you access the World Wide Web. Give them the courtesy of asking before you attempt to reveal personal details of your life to millions of users. Always share your most up to date user name and password with your parents or caregivers. If you give your parent or guardian your login information remember it’s about protecting you not the “helicopter parent” lurking over your shoulder.

Getting Started

So you want to join the ranks of your friends and family on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter? Perhaps you already have a profile. These sites can be fun and will help you stay in touch with friends and family but keep in mind that anything you post online is not private, especially if you are using a site free of charge. Anyone can copy a message, photo or posting and reproduce it in another place and oftentimes without your knowledge. Be very careful of the type of information you post to these sites. The rule of thumb is:  If you have reservations about posting something, don’t post it.
Even if you already have a profile, there are precautions to consider that could protect you.  It may be difficult to envision a social networking site affecting your ability to enter the college of your choice or land that dream job later in life. The reality is inappropriate postings such as engaging in risky behavior (i.e., drinking, inappropriate photos) could put your reputation at risk.