Social Media Safety Tips for Teens

  • Pause before you post - Think twice before pushing the send or the share button.  Often times teens can be a little impulsive, and they will just react right there in the moment.  This has caused some teens to post or send messages that they have later regretted. A good rule of thumb in regards to posting is to think about your grandmother… if your grandmother would not like it, it probably shouldn’t be posted.

  • Think about your future – Think about the things that you are posting and how those posts can affect your future.  Are you posting photos of yourself drinking, dancing on tables, cursing loud?  Are you posting provocative, sexy, or revealing photos? What you post on the internet is eternal, so think about how college admission representatives will view your posts, and also think about the message that you are sending future employers when you post photos.  You don’t want your post to draw unneeded negative attention to you.   Once you post it, it’s there forever, so be smart and think about your future before you post something that can block your future opportunities.

  • Know that people lie on social media – Don’t believe everything that you hear and see on social media.  Social media is a very easy platform for people to create a pretend life, so often times people will stretch the truth a little bit.  This causes some people to be envious and jealous of others because they are comparing themselves to their “friends” seemingly perfect posts about their life.  Don’t fall into this trap.  Know that people lie on social media, and everything that glitters is not gold.

  • Don’t try to keep up – Don’t try to “Keep up with the Jones’s” or the Kardashians online. Just because everyone else is posting crazy things, doesn’t mean that you should.  Try not to feed into the pressure that social media can sometimes cause. Be your own person, and post what feels right to you, don’t; post to please other people.

  • Know that everyone is not your "friend" – Don’t accept friend request just because they send it to you.  Do a little bit of investigating first before you accept friend request.  There are people who will create fake profiles online, just to “catfish” or pretend to be someone who they are not.  Then, they will use those profiles to meet teenagers, while pretending to be a teen themselves, however, if real life that person could very well be a 45 year old man in jail.  Be cautious when accepting friends online, and be sure that this person actually has some type of association with you before you accept their request.

  • Protect your privacy – Never ever give out your address, birthdate, location, social security number, and other private information on social media.  There are people who will try to use that information to take advantage of you, compromise your credit score, try to find you, or some people might try to assume your identity. Protect yourself by guarding all private information and never use your real first and last name as a screen name.

  • Protect your passwords – Be sure to keep your passwords in a safe place and never share them with your friends (because your friends might one day be your ex-friends, and you don’t want them to have access to post on your behalf – Yikes!).  Keep your passwords secure, and don’t make them too easy to guess.  Make your password something that only you would know, and be sure to complicate it by using symbols, capital letters, and numbers.

  • Monitor your GPS settings – Be careful when and where you are checking in on social media.  When you check in, the GPS software in your phone saves the exact location of where you are, and anyone can then access that location, even sneaky online predators.  Try to stay away from using location services like Foursquare and turn off your geotagging location options on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There are too many predators anxiously watching teens’ check in locations, so in order to be safe, just turn it off to keep your location private.

  • Never ever meet up with someone in person – Never meet up with a stranger who you have met online, without your parents being present.  Many people set up fake and anonymous profiles online to prey on teens.  So, that person who you met may appear to be a cute 15 year old boy, but in real life, he is a 55 year old sexual predator.  If you do plan on meeting someone in real life who you met online, be sure that your take someone with you (like your parents) and that you met this person in public place where there are lots of people, like a shopping mall.

  • Avoid talking about sex, sexting, and sharing photos online – It is never a good idea for a teenager to engage in sexual activity online.  For example, if you decide to take a partially nude photo or a nude photo, and then send it to someone, that person now has a photo that they can send to whomever they want and post on whatever website they want.  Remember, what’s posted on the internet, leaves and imprint forever, so if a nude or partially nude photo of you is shared online, you will suffer the negative consequences from it forever.  If someone text a nude or partially nude photo to your phone, and then you share it, you could possibly be charged with the distribution of child pornography, which means that you would have a criminal record.  This could harm your chances of getting into college, receiving scholarships, and you might have to register as a sex offender which would hinder your future employment opportunities.  As you can see – it’s NEVER a good idea to sext, send, or share nude or partially nude photos as a teenager.  If an adult tries to send you a nude or semi-nude photo, or if they try to talk about sex with you, they are committing a crime, and you need to report that person to your parents and the police immediately.

  • Treat others how you want to be treated – Follow the golden rule, and be nice online.  Don’t try to bully, shame, humiliate, pick on, or harass anyone. Social media is supposed to be fun; it should not be used to tear others down. Sharing mean screen shots, sharing photos and/or videos, making harmful memes, spreading hurtful gossip, and catfishing are all forms of cyber bullying that are really hurtful.  If someone is mistreating you or cyber bullying you online, be sure to save any offensive posts that are sent to you because the police can use those posts as evidence.  Then, after you have reported the incident to your parents and to the police, block that person from contacting you.


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Love Magazine: Social Media Safety Tips for Teens
Social Media Safety Tips for Teens
Love Magazine
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