When it comes to teens and social media, I’m a bit of a kill joy in my personal and professional circles. I’m that Mom who says “No you don’t need a cell phone in elementary school, you don’t need to text in middle school, and yes we will follow the terms of service age limits when it comes to social networks.” So when Domain.Me asked me to write about taking control of your personal data, it seemed a natural fit for the ongoing conversation with my teens about how they can navigate their social media footprints. Domain.ME is a provider of personal URLS that end in .ME and are corporately vested in promoting thought leadership within the tech world.
Taking control of your own data means that you make sure all content created by you online is hosted on platforms you own. On a professional level, I’ve got that working for me with this website. Brand focused, what I share here I own even if I give a glimpse into my personal life. That’s not the exact same scenario with my social media profiles. While they are all brand focused with the exception of my personal Facebook profile, every time I create content on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, I’m sharing that content and the rights to pictures with those platforms. On Twitter and Instagram that’s okay with me because I use those platforms with a professional focus and value the assets of each. That means any pictures I share I want out there in association with GO MOM!. and while our GO MOM! Facebook Fan page is all brand all the time, my personal Facebook community is just dear friends and family which is an intentional step to separate my professional and personal lives. I don’t use my family in my work. I rarely share picture of my children and I don’t give permission for them to be filmed or interviewed for a brand’s benefit. When you hire me, you don’t hire my family.
Because Facebook is the most personal community to me, its also the place I would be most likely to forget that I am risking my online privacy in how I share. Because its comfortable. I love that Facebook is a place where we share our lives in words and pictures. We share our prayers and our proud Mama moments. We share our opinions and celebrations. And we do it without the thought that someone else could own that data. Because it “feels” like our living room. It “feels” like my neighbors from our past life in another state are standing at the fence having a chat. It “feels” like my cousins are gathered with me on my grandma’s back porch. And it “feels” like my siblings all in other states are right there. And when we PM on Facebook, its instant access to a more expanded conversation. Which means it can be so easy to forget again that you’ve left a written footprint of details you may not have intended others’ to “hear.”
When it comes to teens, their “comfortable” happens anywhere but Facebook. Parents took it over and now teens are using numerous other communities to socialize and often times without their parents being aware. They are being raised in an increasingly digitized world where the social skills learned in a real life community are not seen being learned. Which means there is all kinds of social fall out, misunderstanding, and hurtful behaviors that would never have been tolerated when what you said was what you lived with for all to see.
That’s why its so important have ongoing conversations with my teens about how to take control of their online data. It’s about being staying up to date as a parent and then having non threatening, education conversations with your teens in a helpful way, not intruding manner. Its about teaching teens to be aware of which information about them various online services and platforms have and what they are using it for. And to be honest, there are plenty of parents who pay little or no attention to these issues so its good for everyone to get schooled in why we need to remember that just because we are comfortable online doesn’t mean that we are safe. Here are a few conversation starters to get the ball rolling:
- “When we shop online for products on sites like Amazon, they are tracking our settings and what products we look at. It’s like filling out a survey that you never even took. The same is true for Facebook. If you search for something, you’ll see ads begin to appear on your Facebook page that reflect that search. So how do you think you can avoid that tracking?”
Wait and see what your kids have to say because it will reveal to you all kinds of insights about their level of understanding and what you might need to do together to help them protect their online data. Then take them through these areas:
Facebook has to be the most notorious for changing settings without notifying its users. But since most teens avoid Facebook like the plague, educate yourself on the privacy practices of the networks and websites your teens use and then discuss with your teen what they need to do. A perfect example of misunderstood privacy is the app SnapChat. Wildly popular, when first released the exciting part of the app was the notion that pictures shared would disappear in seconds. However the truth is anyone can grab a screenshot of those pictures before they disappear and just like that your “secret” photo has been exposed. Get them in the habit of checking them quarterly and changing passwords with your knowledge frequently too. Maintain a Organized Online Reference List for logins and websites like that found in our GO MOM! Home Management Bundle.
Terms of Service
Teens (and adults) can have a one track mind about finding the answer to something or checking out the latest app or game for their phones which is where so much of their online activity occurs. With each addition of an App, personal information is shared when you accept the terms of service. Talk with your teens about choosing carefully when it comes to what Apps they download and how they use them. Have your teen track logins and site addresses with our Organized Online Reference List so that you can review them as their list grows. If your teen refuses to include you, reconsider their permission to have online access at all. No I’m not joking. They are learning and you are there to guide, and protect, them. If they aren’t on board with partnering with you, they aren’t ready to build their profile.
What Does Google Know About You?
Every time we go online we giveaway data to Google and other sites by how we search for information and what sites we choose to visit from Google’s awesome list. Did you know that Google has security and privacy tools for you to control this? Because teens use Goolge search for everything, you have to break it down into every day actions they may not even think about. Some easy ones are things like logging onto websites with social media logins or allowing a friends’ use of a social app to access your information. When they take these actions, they unknowingly give their personal data away. Discuss with them why even thought its fun to explore and connect, its not worth the unknown exposure.
Conversations about controlling your personal data online are key for kids of all ages. Working with your children to increase their education and exposure with their safety and online data ownership in mind is just part of parenting today. And in our family it just reinforces why its so important to take our time and be okay with being the parents who say no. Because I’m pretty sure I never jumped off that imaginary bridge my parents always asked me if I’d follow my friends too and while the online carrot is SO much more accessible and tempting, I am hopeful my kids will value these lessons too. Tell me…
When was the last time you talked with your teens about online privacy?
What did you discuss?
I’d be lying if I said I love this part of parenting teens. And to be honest it makes me flat mad that our youngest, still in elementary school, has to deal with kids who are all kinds of online and unsupervised, using Apps their parents can’t track and already dealing with bullying and more. But its worth the fight and I’m hopeful that the voice of reason will find its way back to parents being willing to say NO to so much online exposure and honestly being able to make the same choices for themselves as well. Because apple and tree…its as simple as that.
Thanks so much for stopping by ~ we’ll see you next time!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Domain.ME: however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.