- Limit your friend list—don’t ‘friend’ random people
- Protect your privacy—don’t share your password and set your profile to private
- Your personal details are valuable—don’t share them
- Protect your reputation—keep it clean and ask yourself: would you want others to see what you upload?
- Be careful who you trust—a person can pretend to be someone they are not
- Don’t use a webcam with people you do not know
- Think before you post, chat, upload or download.
“There’s more ‘life’ happening online than offline. If you are not online, you are completely out of the loop–you don’t have a life, you don’t really exist.”
–Hannah, 13 years old
“I’m online even during class. I’m supposed to be taking notes but instead I’m commenting on stuff and uploading pictures.”
–Emma, 14 years old
“I feel safer online than I do offline. So I do things online that I wouldn’t do in real life.”
–Sadie, 14 years old
“I’ve become very good at taking pictures of myself. I know what angle is best, I know how to part my lips…you know. It’s like the number one thing on my mind is ‘I need to get home right now and take a new profile picture.’ All because I want someone to comment on how I look.”
–Katie, 15 years old
“Social networking affects all the things you do in real life now. Like, if you go to a party, one of the most important aspects of going to the party is to document yourself for online posts. You have to prove you were looking good, you were having fun, and that you were actually there! It’s not about the party anymore but about the pictures of the party.”
–Caroline, 14 years old
“I feel sad, depressed, jealous, or whatever when I don’t get a lot of “Likes” on my photo or when someone else gets way more Likes than me. Honestly, I’m not sure that parents realize how drastically it affects our self-image and confidence. If I see a picture of a really pretty girl, it’s like ‘Goodbye self-esteem.’ It forces me to compete and do stuff that I don’t want to do, so my confidence will get a boost.”
–Samantha, 14 years old
“Sometimes I feel like I’m losing control. I want my parents to tell me to get off the computer. Actually, they would need to literally take the computer away because I can’t stop myself.”
–Nina, 15 years old
“My friendships are really affected by social networking. You have to constantly validate your friends online. And everyone’s like ‘Where were you?’ ‘What have you been doing?’ ‘Why haven’t you commented on my picture yet?’ So you have to be online all the time, just to keep track, so you don’t upset anyone.”
–Jasmine, 13 years old
“There is so much pressure to look happy all the time—you can never just be yourself– because everybody is always taking pictures and posting them.”
–Nikki, 13 years old
“I really want my mom to be proud of me. Obviously, I want her to think I’m writing my essay or doing things I should be doing instead of being on Facebook. But I also want to be online. So I lie or accuse her of not trusting me. It’s awful, but I’ve become really comfortable with lying.”
–Maya, 14 years old
Professor Larry D. Rosen offers this advice:
- Start young.
- Institute family meals with tech breaks.
- Don’t use your ignorance about technology as an excuse.
- Don’t rely on secretly monitoring online activities.
- Look for warning signs.
To read the entire piece, click here.