Considerations for youth and social networking – Part 3: Privacy settings

Help youth set up, maintain and update the privacy settings on social networking sites.

According to a 2015 Pew Research, 71 percent of teenagers 13-17 years old are using at least one social network site. With this high usage of social networking, there are many factors adults must consider when helping youth navigate their usage of social networking sites. Helping youth understand the importance of setting, maintaining and updating privacy settings on social networking sites is an significant aspect that needs to be considered when helping youth understand their digital footprint.

Youth need to understand they shouldn’t be sharing their personal information in their online profiles, including their full real name, address, phone number, financial information, school name, current location, passwords or other private information. Set some guidelines to help youth know what to consider when setting their privacy settings. Michigan State University Extension has some questions parents or other adults can ask youth to help them think about privacy:

  1. What can people see about you?
  2. What will people know about you from your online presence?
  3. What will someone learn about you from your online presence?

Youth are sharing more and information online, so it is crucial to help them understand what they share online can be seen by others. Adults should help youth understand that every piece of information that is included in an online profile can be seen by others and paints a picture of that youth. Others can use this information to make assumptions about the youth or even locate a youth.

As a parent, volunteer or other adult working with youth, talk to youth about how they are using social networking and have them think about their privacy settings. Technology changes, apps come and go, and the next wave in social media platforms will come about, but that doesn’t change the guidelines youth consider around privacy. Adults should continually be reminding youth that they need to be checking and updating their privacy settings to ensure only information youth want to be seen is being seen.

Check out the previous articles in this series below, and watch for future articles that will explore topics of boundaries and sharing photos more in depth.

Other articles in series

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