What Happens Online – Trading Privacy for Friends

May 25, 2015 Online Safety for Kids


What happens online, might not always stay online: Trading privacy for friends online

Imagine if that photo from the party last weekend landed on your teacher’s or your boss’s desk.

Over 65% of teenage Australians have a MySpace or a Facebook profile. Facebook alone boasts more than 500 million active users.

Social networking sites are online places for teenagers to create a personal webpage (or “profile”), exchange messages, post diary entries, organise parties, post photos and more. The emphasis is on building a network of “friends” through the people that you know. In the last five years, the use of such sites has grown exponentially from a niche activity into a phenomenon that engages millions of teenagers every single day.

“Many people on Facebook often try to get as many people listed as ‘friends’ to appear as though they are more popular.”

40% of 11-17 year olds report using social networking sites almost every day. This compares with only 20% that complete homework almost every day. With this in mind, would you believe that 30% of Australian teenagers don’t even know how to find the privacy settings on MySpace or Facebook?

The risks of not understanding these privacy settings include harassment (cyber bullying), identity theft, exclusion and even the loss or denial of employment, scholarships and leadership positions.

Social networking websites have joined other communication media such as the mobile phone, instant messaging and email as part of the “social lifeline” for teenagers to their peer group.

What can we do about it?

Teach effective online social skills – ‘netiquette’

Educate teenagers about family, school and legal boundaries – what is appropriate and when

Be reasonable and set reasonable limits on teenagers’ online activities – children are curious, inventive and resourceful – they will find a way to get around unreasonable limits you’ve imposed

Encourage your children to “Think before you post”. Don’t want your mum, your dad, your teachers, or your boss at work to see it? Then don’t post it!

Social networking sites have extensive privacy settings. Learn how to use them.

For more information, have a look at these websites:

4 quick mobile phone tips – Click here

6 quick internet safety tips – Click here

Facebook Safety Tips – Click here

Walkthrough of Facebook privacy settings: Click here

Visit Click here for links, videos and more information

“We need to acknowledge the online world youth are living in and arm them with the tools to reduce the risk that some of their behaviours may entail.”

Chris Webster is the creator of Click here. He presents workshops for the school community about cyber bullying and the way teenagers interact with the cyber world that we live in.

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