Is Your Child Safe Online?

children online1 150x150 Is Your Child Safe Online?A research team from Harvard has found that people value online privacy and use a variety of strategies to protect themselves. Nothing surprising there, you think? But these people are children. Tweens whose parents worry that they may somehow expose themselves to online predators.

“…Tweens are much more savvy about their privacy settings than adults give them credit for, even when it comes to the subtleties of ‘frenemies’ dynamics,” according to PBS, which ran an article about the survey. Many tweens said they consult adults — such as parents or educators — about privacy concerns online; 89% said they conferred with parents, and 63% said they heard messages from teachers.

A 2011 study by danah boyd and Alice Marwick found that young adults are more wary of people they know—parents, teachers, or classmates, rather than strangers—due to the potential for “known others” to share embarrassing information about them. Seven out of the 10 participants who reported having their privacy breached said it was perpetrated by people they knew.

“’Like one day, I was using my phone and [my teacher] took it from me…to see who I was texting,’ a tween told the researchers.”

Five Tips for Dealing With Your Child’s Social Media

  • Do engage your young people in a conversation about privacy.
  • Don’t make them more fearful than they are—avoid extreme fear tactics.
  • Do balance protective messages with those about responsibility and respect for others.
  • Do discuss and encourage empowering privacy.
  • Do check out the BBB Parents’ Corner of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, where you will find a Safety on Screen guide for parents.

For more information on how today’s tweens and teens handle their social media presences, please visit PBS.

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.