Teen TMI

Too much information? Not to some teenagers. Walking down an average street, chances are you’ll see teenagers—and some younger kids—on their phones, social networking. Social networking sites say that they prevent anyone under 13 from signing up, yet many under-13s seem to have social networking accounts on networks that are recommended by the creators for teenagers. On another note of privacy and safety, Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of the founder of Facebook, thinks that Facebook stands for making the world more “open and connected.” Did she consider the fact that many middle and high schoolers may have opened themselves too much? Around 90% of kids 12-17 have posted a “selfie” on social media. The “am I pretty/handsome” fad is coming back on YouTube, Ask.fm, and various social networks, where teens open themselves up for serious self-esteem issues if a stranger thinks they’re “not pretty.” And now, due to the new change in Facebook rules and regulations, Facebook users ages 13-17 can post publicly, as opposed to before only being able to post to friends. This opens teens up to all sorts of privacy concerns. As Kelly Clay put it in her article for Forbes, the former privacy policy was “designed to protect teenagers not only from strangers, but also themselves.” Now these protections are gone in Facebook’s desperate attempt to regain teenage users who have left for various reasons, including Facebook just being “not cool anymore.” Teenagers are getting addicted to these sites, and tragedy can come from it, like in the case of Aiswarya Dahiwal, a college student who killed herself after being banned from Facebook by her parents, and in the many unnamed cases of predators tracking down victims over social media when they post too much info. And then there’s Google, who is getting in the social networking game too, offering a Google+ account to all gmail users by default. Many young children, not realizing the social media connection with their email, have thought that it was “harmless” to post a photo of themselves and give out some details that they think can’t hurt them. That theory is wrong nearly every time.

Let’s not forget that the Internet already knows a lot about you. There has been a post online that detailed all legal gun owners in two New York counties. A little poking around resulted in finding out about Microsoft CEO Bill Gates’ incredible credit card debt. Other sites offer mug shots of criminals by state. And this isn’t even illegal. Unless you’re careful, your private information could become public and easily accessible with a little digging. Facebook has reportedly been working for the past year on a mobile app that lets you track people and friends via a map & GPS. And if you post something iffy online, it can get you fired from a job. “There’s nothing you can do in the electronic world that your boss can’t find and you can’t be fired for,” said Lewis Maltby, president of National Workrights Institute. “I got a call today from someone who got fired because he was writing short stories on his own time (online) and apparently they were a little kinky.” So think before you post, and remember, even if you delete it, it’s still there, somewhere, on the Internet.

Source for statistics cited: “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy,” by Mary Madden, Amanda Lenhart, Sandra Cortesi, Urs Gasser, Maeve Duggan, Aaron Smith, Meredith Beaton. Pew Internet, May 21, 2013.

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