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Securing your teen from social media dangers

Last updated on: August 16, 2012 09:31 IST

Securing your teen from social media dangers

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Govind Rammurthy, eScan

Though social media clearly demonstrates its negative impacts, it is here to stay simply because of its strong influences and the fact that it is undoubtedly unavoidable.

Today's generation is increasingly adapting to the digitally savvy lifestyle and are socially connected online. Hence, in order to harness the benefits of social networking, while avoiding the drawbacks, the only way out is to take benefit of its advantages cautiously.

Educate about social media

1. Purpose of social networking

For some professionals, social networking sites are just a mode to connect to people of their professions. However, social networking sites are primarily just another way to stay connected with the people you know. Hence, it is very necessary to draw a line between who to connect with and who to avoid. It is necessary to educate your teen about the purpose of social media.

2. Limit connections

Everyone loves some attention. In order to grab attention and increase their number of 'friends' people on social media befriend people whom they do not know in real life.

However, befriending a stranger on these social media platforms is not safe, as it is not possible to assure that strangers on the other side are the ones who they claim to be.

It is always better to build online networks of people you also interact with face-to-face. Hence, it is necessary to alert your teens on interacting with strangers on social networks.

The author is chairman and managing director of eScan, a company that offers anti-virus, anti-spam, content security and network intrusion prevention solutions.



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3. What to share

Most of the times, teens share personal updates, photos on these social media platforms to grab attention. It is important to alert teens about the kind of information that should be shared on social networking sites.

Explain the importance of their personal information and instruct them not to share their confidential information as strangers with whom they are connected may be predators, who are just looking for the right opportunity to take advantage of your personal data.

There are also times when teens may want a public profile in order to promote their creative work. In such situations, suggest them to create a second public profile for promoting their work, while keeping their personal profile accessible only to family and friends.

4. Potential risks

The first thing that strikes when we think of protecting our loved ones from the potential dangers of the social networking sites is to prohibit their use. Well, there is no harm in doing so. However, we must understand that just as there are two sides to a coin, social media platforms bring in a lot of goodness with them. And it is a general human tendency that we love to do things that are restricted to us.

Hence, the best way to protect teens is to educate them about the dangers that are associated with social networking.

As these sites host an infinite amount of personal data, they have become favourite target for many online predators. Teens may not realise the potential repercussions of their online activities. Hence, the most important thing to ensure their online safety is to educate teens about the appropriate use and potential risks associated with social media.

Social media platforms allow teens to connect with their friends and other users. Sometimes in order to acquire highest number of contacts, teens add new people to their lists even if they do not know them in real life.

On the other hand, most major websites often ask their users to post a profile with their date of birth, e-mail address, hobbies, education, etc. These profiles help teens to connect with individual that share common interests. However, cyber criminals who want to victimise kids may use those online profiles to search for potential victims.

Also, it is important to make teens aware that once something is posted on the Internet, it always stays in the Internet. It is difficult to have control on their access and misuse of any data once available on Internet. Hence, any inappropriate images or updates posted may be deleted by an individual from their profile, it will remain somewhere in the Internet and hence, will be accessible.

Privacy on the social media is not as secure as it is presented. Therefore, it is always better to avoid posting anything on these social networking sites that we would not want to share publicly.



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Monitor your teen's social networking activities

Monitoring the activities of your teens may help you to safeguard them from potential cyber dangers. Keep an eye on the types of posts/ photos they share as well as kind of people they are interacting through these sites.

Make use of applications that allow you to block, monitor, and filter data available in your computer. Use of security solutions that facilitate features such as parental control, web protection, etc. is a smart decision.

If possible, connect with your teen through the social networks they use. However, we need to keep in mind that they get enough space they need as teenagers. We need to respect their privacy.

As there is no time limit to access the social networking sites as well as the fun while using them, it is always better to set a time limit for yourself.

Studies show that social networking sites isolate an individual from the real world. Apart from being social on social networking sites, the real life social activities are too important for your teen's development. Hence, ensure that their virtual social life does not hamper their face-to-face interactions with friends and also build a balanced schedule which would include studies, sports and other activities with families.

Online security

It is always advisable to take maximum benefit of the privacy settings provided by the social media platforms.

Educate your loved ones about strong passwords, privacy settings to restrict access to their profiles, etc. Moreover, keep yourself as well as your dear ones updated about the changing privacy settings.

Ensure that the browser used has the appropriate safety options.

And most importantly, give confidence to your loved ones that they can talk to you, in case they are facing any negative consequences using social networking sites. It's very important!



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