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Monday, July 21, 2014

TechnoGrannyTalks, 7-14, 2014 Techno Granny, Attention Parents, Risks and Fixes for Teens on Facebook.

Title: Techno Granny, Attention Parents, Risks and Fixes for Teens on Facebook.

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In October 2013 Facebook announced teenagers ages 13-17 will be permitted to post publicly.   This means anyone on the social networking site could have access to information provided by your child.  Learning to navigate the world of social networking is not easy, compounding the learning curve are conventional parental responsibilities. This raises a novel host of questions and concerns for parents, guardians and caregivers of teens and tweens. 
In todays show Joanne Quinn- Smith, Techno Granny, investigates several risks related to Facebook and social media.  She introduces her listeners to multiple studies conducted by leading experts in the field of technology which address not just the problems surrounding teens and social media, but fixes; ways to avoid or solve the troubles teens experience in cyberspace.
Help Your Teens Play it Safe.
They love the computer but how safe are they?
Accessibility to technology has changed aspects of everyone’s life.  Today’s youth have grown up immersed in a cyber-culture. For most, computers allow near instantaneous communication and are usually packaged small enough to fit into the palm of our hand.  This type of high tech telecommunication is all youth know.  On the same hand, parents have striven to teach and guide their children through life’s most difficult moments; this includes the trials and errors of learning to become independent and productive adults.  The basic instructions parents need to instill upon their children have not changed because technology has changed.  If anything, the influx of new communication devices requires parents to become more diligent than ever in monitoring and understanding how kids manage their participation on social media sites. 
            Teens use Facebook for the same purpose as adults; they
  connect with friends,
·        send messages,
·        share photos and videos and
·        Plan social events. 
It all seems harmless until you stop to think about who your children are associating with on social networking sites.  Who are your teen’s friends on Facebook?  Now that Facebook enables individuals to manage their own audience, the Activity Log is a means for users to review and watch over what has been posted. The Activity Log is private to everyone but the user.  From here, users can manage who is capable of seeing their content.  
A Simple inquiry such as, “why is Facebook important to you?’ opens a window into more in depth conversation about appropriate online behaviors.  reviewing your child’s privacy settings with them is a good way to set social media ground rules as well as enforce them. 
The frequently evolving realm of social media is a lot for adults to keep tabs on, but for youth who have
grown up with social media as an integral part of their lives, there is a good chance they know more than you.  A straightforward way to learn the basics is to ask your child to teach you. 
Conversations with your child about online predators and privacy are no brainers, but equally important are chats about the Golden Rule.  A gentle reminder that anything posted online can be misconstrued or taken out of context can be of great consequence.  Online communication lacks additional clues (tone of voice, body language) therefore; comments and posts are not always interpreted in the way the sender intends.  The Golden Rule states ‘treat others as you would want to be treated’.  Practicing self-respect and respect for others when communicating, specifically online,  is one way teens can safely connect with friends and peers on social media. In other words, think before you post.  This idea applies to parents as well.  If you have friended your child on Facebook it is recommended that you apply the same boundaries you have offline to your online relationship.  Parents need to create a healthy balance between their teens developing independence and any safety concerns that may arise due to the use of social networking.  It is equally important for adults to learn the language of social networking.  These sites often have their own set of acronyms and terms which describe various online activities and characteristics.  Familiarizing yourself with the correct terminology may take away your suspicions of social media. 
How Can I Help My Teen Use Facebook Wisely?
          Parents can always opt to assist their tween or teen in setting and managing their Facebook page’s
Learn as much as you can about Facebook.
security and privacy.  Ongoing conversations regarding Facebook usage and responsible online behavior are a parent’s obligation.  Beginning basic education at a young age will help ensure your child grasps the concepts of internet safety.  Some fundamental online safety rules to instill in children include never share a password, think before you post, accept friend requests only from people you know offline and report anything that appears suspicious. 
7 Facebook Risks You Should Discuss With Your Teen.
According to Victoria Kempf, blogger for, many parents worry about what their teens are doing on Facebook. There are many documented benefits to participating in social networking, but there are risks that accompany the advantages.  Parents must be aware of these risks in order to keep their children safe. The 7 risks parents should be prepared to address with their tweens and teens as they cultivate a digitally social life are as follows:
1)     Facebook Postings Are Not Private.
2)     Facebook Postings Can Impact Your Teen’s Future.
3)     Friending On Facebook Equates To a Badge of Popularity.
4)     Online predators are Real.
5)     Cyberbullying Is Real.
6)     Poking is Sharing. It Can Also Be Sexting.
7)     Identity Theft Can Happen To Teens Too.
Each of these risks has the potential to lead to harm of child.  Luckily there is a fix to accompany each risk.
Posts are not private.  In a nut shell, anything posted on line has the capability of being copy and pasted elsewhere by anyone with access to your child’s Facebook account.  This includes videos and photos.  In order to render this problem parents should assist their children with programming their Facebook privacy settings. 

Related to privacy is the trend of Tagging.  Tagging can create a lot of issues regarding privacy, or lack thereof.  When someone is tagged in a Facebook photo, their identity is publicized and linked to their Facebook Timeline.  When looking over your child’s settings consider applying review tags, so that your teen must approve any photos before they are displayed for the world to view.

When someone posts on a social media site they are in an essence creating their own brand. 
This is also referred to as a digital footprint.  Many teens still view social networking as an anonymous way to explore certain topics and socialize with people they wouldn’t necessarily mingle with offline.  As people increase their cyber citizenship many colleges, scholarship providers and employers view the Facebook profiles of potential candidates before making a selection.  This process is done to verify any students or employees chosen to represent an organization are the type of individual who will have a positive reflection upon the association.  The best way to combat this problem is to have on going conversations with your children concerning appropriate behavior.  On or offline, tweens and teens need to consider what the consequences of their actions may be.

Many children assume more friends on Facebook mean they are popular.

Often kids accept a ‘friend’ request from anyone, even if they do not know the person offline.  How does a parent manage their child’s friends?  If your child agrees to ‘friend’ you on Facebook, you will then have access to their personal friend list.  From this vantage point you can monitor the exchanges that go on between your child and their ‘friends’.
Sometimes children post messages and status updates that unintentionally attract online predators.  Just as teens have become tech savvy, so have predators. To avoid this potentially dangerous situation parents should present their teen with a list of things that should never be posted on Facebook or anywhere on line.  For example, birthdays, phone numbers, addresses or any other identifying location, school name, parents first and last names should never be made public on line. 

Cyberbullying is real.  This is a behavior which tends to intensify on line behind a shield of presumed anonymity.  As stated earlier, nothing is truly private on line; this includes mean or degrading and harassing comments.  Socializing on line is not all that different from life offline.  Teaching your child to respect themselves as well as the opinions and differences of others will help minimize the risk factors of cyberbullying.  Furthermore, having access to your teens Activity Log will let you monitor their behavior on Facebook.

Get Additional Information on Cyberbullying Here

For those familiar with Facebook, you have probably been poked or have poked someone. 
The new App Facebook Poke automatically destructs photos and videos posted to the site within a few seconds.  This activity leads children to believe their posts are completely erased.  These presumptions often lead to risky behaviors that child would otherwise not conduct if they felt the consequences to their actions would be noticed.   According to Facebook a loop hole was recently discovered and the photos and videos on Facebook Poke are not as private as teens thought. Apparently Facebook is working to repair this problem but ultimately parents need to reiterate to their children the idea of not putting anything on line that they would be embarrassed by or later regret. 

Great blog post on Poking

Facebook Information on Poking

Identity theft can happen to children.  If details are posted on line that contains identifying information cybercriminals will try and find a way to access it.  It is easy to click on a link or download an attachment that appears to be harmless only to realize you have jeopardized your computer with malware.  As part of a child’s technology education, instruction on identifying phishing scams should be taught.  Teens and tweens should be told to never click on unusual or unfamiliar links even if they come from someone they know.  In addition, teens should be told to never reveal personal information over the computer.

 Pennsylvania Laws on Identity Theft

Arkansas Police on Identity Theft

In summary, to help ensure your child is safe while navigating the social side of the cyber world make sure they understand each of the risks addressed above and the various ways to avoid them.

 Tell your teens how in appropriate behavior on social network sites can affect their future.  Lastly, teach your children internet safety, from a young age.  Review the codes of conduct.  Don’t just assume children know what is appropriate and what isn’t. Remember the goal is to teach our children to be good cyber citizens.
Aside from any legal risks associated with social media use, a child’s emotional state could be at risks as well. 

According to, Facebook depression is a newly debated phenomenon.  Experts report that teens who spend a great deal of time on Facebook reading status updates may feel their social lives are unfulfilled and fall into a depression.  Symptoms of Facebook depression mirror classic depression symptoms; skipping meals or activities, weight loss or gain, drop in grades.  Parents should be aware that this condition exists and know when to seek help for their child. 

Cyberbullying is another topic which receives a lot of attention from the media. 

Cyberbullying is bullying through electronic devices and can include texting, emails, instant messaging, unapproved posting of videos, photos or links and general harassment through an electronic communication device.  Often cyberbullying leads to depression, anxiety, severe isolation and sometimes even suicide.  Parents should make themselves aware of the warning signs of bullying, including depression, avoiding school and peers, spending excessive time online.

Sexting is another online specific behavior that has the potential to ruin your child’s reputation and devastate their emotional health. 

Sexting is the act of sending, receiving or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs or images on electronic devices.  Although the American Academy of Pediatrics reports most sexts are not shared beyond a small group of friends, the potential for these images to be shared with hundreds if not thousands of people does exist.  Furthermore, the possibility of teens being charged with felony child pornography and various misdemeanors exists depending on the circumstances and the state where the sexting occurred. 

In order to help your teen maintain an unpolluted digital footprint parents and kids must understand what a digital footprint actually is. 

This phrase is used to describe the trail of online activity that develops as a person uses electronic media.  Parents can help their children by monitoring their privacy settings and reinforcing the idea that anything posted online is there- someplace, forever. 

Informational Blog on Protecting Your Digital Footprint

Parents have a duty to help their children safely participate in social media.  The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests, chatting about Facebook and how your child is using it.  Also, consider ‘friending’ your child.  If your child does not want you as a friend on their Facebook page parents should automatically consider this a red flag.  Be aware of news headlines depicting the good and bad aspects of Facebook and other social media sites.  Share these with your teen.  Finally, make the computer accessible in a central location of the home; this will give parents a clearer sense of who is on line and how often.

Techno Granny Show Hosted By:
Joanne Quinn-Smith is the Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and an expert on Web 2.0 Branding, 2009 National SBA Small Business Journalist of the Year, Author "Folly of Marketing Plan in Your Head, 101 Compelling Reasons to Write One." Available at:

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