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Posts Tagged ‘teens’

Is Instagram Safe For Kids? Puzzling Washington Post Article Asks

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Yesterday the Washington Post’s On Parenting Blog wrote an article titled “Instagram: What parents need to know.” The article discusses whether Instagram, a social camera and photo editing app for iPhone and Android phones, is safe for use by youth. The article was conspicuously written shortly after Facebook announced that it would buy the little app company for $1 billion (No, that’s not a typo. “B” as in Billion). The article references a helpful article written by YourSphere media about that topic.

The takeaway is that Instagram is a social photo app network. Anything that takes a photo and uploads it should be treated with caution — as the article rightly points out. The article also notes the possibility that the app can be used for bullying. All true. But, I think it’s worth noting that most Internet and online technologies pose that same possibility and that the overwhelming percentage of teens and tweens manage to deal pretty well with those pitfalls. Beyond that there seems to be nothing inherently unsafe about Instagram. The only issue we could see with the article was that during a recent Android installation of Instagram there seemed to be no age requirement and statement of age as the article suggests. Perhaps it’s only in iPhone OS.

Of course, sexting and bullying are real problems that parents must be mindful of. Our friends at ConnectSafely.org have writting some great pieces on the pitfalls of bullying and how to deal with sexting.

Google+ Is Open For Teens, Here’s a Parent’s Guide

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Google+ is Google’s social networking service and until now it’s been closed to teens. The Google+ team delayed teens’ access so that they can build a safe and sensible social networking environment for teens from the ground up rather than retrofitting one later. Our friends at ConnnectSafely.org have developed “A Parent’s Guide to Google +” that explains the service and its approach to safety and security. Check it out here.

Are Teens Broadcasting Their Mobile Location on Facebook?

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Are Teens Broadcasting Their Mobile Location on Facebook? Well, yes. Should parents be overly concerned? Not that much more concerned than having their teens use Facebook at all. Let’s back up. Over a month ago Facebook launched “Places,” a service where people can use their GPS mobile phones to “check in” to locations such as restaurants, concert halls, and schools. Once checked in, Facebook notifies other Facebook users that John Doe just checked in to “Potbelly Sandwich.”

Obviously, those of us in the online safety community are deeply, deeply concerned about nefarious use of a child’s physical location. Frankly, the thought is terrifying. Thus parents and social networking companies need to take the distribution of kids’ mobile location very seriously.

Now, for teen users (those under 18 yeas old) Facebook only allows their “Friends” to see the places they have checked into. Even if the teen foolishly changes their privacy settings to allow “Everyone” to see their information, Facebook automatically prohibits anyone but the teen’s friend from seeing their mobile location in the physical world. This is a positive privacy and safety measure by Facebook. However, this auto feature does not exist for those over the age of 17 who set their profile to “Everyone”

Of course, the teen’s safety and privacy really hinges on whether they trust those in her “Friends” list. As a general rule, parents should talk to teens about limiting their Facebook “Friends” list to only those they know and trust. If they don’t, none of their information is safe — especially their physical location.

More about Places can be found on ConnectSafely.org and on Facebook itself.

Technology Can Aid Parents of “Queen Bees”

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Chapter 1 of Rosalind Wiseman‘s update of the best selling book Queen Bees & Wannabes explores the role of technology in the lives of parent and child relationships. It’s worth a read for that chapter alone! Ms. Wiseman offers actionable tips for parents on how they can use technology to keep up with tech savvy teens. In the section “Using Technology for Reconnaissance” Ms. Wiseman advises parents of teens to have them take a camera phone picture of where they are when they are checking in. For a “very sneaky kid, make her take a picture that includes something to indicate the date and time,” according to Ms. Wiseman.

Parents can further take advantage of the technology to fill in the “information vacuums between parents” by befriending other parents using social networking sites like Facebook. According to Ms. Wiseman teens will sometimes exploit the lack of parent-to-parent communication to mask where she is or with whom. It’s an age-old trick — “Jenny’s mom is taking us to pizza and a movie.” Facebook friending and having Jenny’s mom’s cell phone number can seriously reduce that information fog.

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