Online Safety

Technology, Social Media, & Online Safety

Because I work with teenagers who are deeply immersed in the world of social media and are online practically constantly, and because I know how this can make you feel and how dangerous things can get online (even when you think you are safe), I've compiled here some resources, some guidelines, and some other interesting information. It shows that the world you've found in your electronic rectangles is not uniquely challenging or confusing only to you, and other people's efforts to isolate you, pressure you, or manipulate you can be handled well. Sometimes it's something small that you can do that will make a huge difference, and sometimes you might need to get others involved.

For starters, this survey about cyberbullying from Pew Research:

A majority of teens have been the target of cyberbullying, with name-calling and rumor-spreading being the most common forms of harassment

In the article that this survey comes from, a lot of teenagers actually place the blame for the struggles that they face on their teachers (among others).

A majority of teens think parents are doing a good job in addressing online harassment, but are critical of teachers, social media companies and politicians

The reason why teachers are generally not able to help much (or are uncomfortable trying to help) is because a lot of us are not entirely aware of what's going on. Our social media world started after our real social worlds solidified, and your social media world grew up alongside it. The rules and expectations that a lot of us had in the real world carried over, but a lot of students that I've talked to say that their online worlds and their physical worlds, socially, are extremely different.

Here's my attempt to help. I have a background in IT, meaning I know how a lot of technology works, and I work with teenagers, which means I find out one way or another what a lot of teens are getting up to. There are ways to handle a lot of what happens on your phone, especially if it makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Rule number one: You don't have to do anything anyone tells you that you have to.

It is very easy to feel, especially with social pressure and possible social consequences, that you have to do what others pressure you to do. This could be as small as following them on Instagram or as major as sending pictures of yourself doing things that you really shouldn't. I'll get into the details of all of this in some of the pages below.

If you find that I haven't covered something or that things I write don't quite apply (e.g., settings are no longer where I show them to be, or there are new app settings that need to be dealt with), let me know. Additionally - if you have a story that you'd like to share anonymously or otherwise to help your fellow teenagers out there, send it to me.

Photo at top of page by rawpixel on Unsplash.