Youth & Social Media

The digital world is here to stay. The youth are growing up with and making internet technologies, such as social networking sites, an integral part of their lives. They want to know; share and be heard. They can connect with people who appeal to them; share views and photos instantly; sound out ideas in public; give vent to their emotions; and MOST important of all, feel accepted and get peer approval.

McAfee’s latest Tweens, Teens & Technology 2014 report reveals large participation (70%) of Indian youth on social media. Facebook still rules the roost but the youth are moving away gradually towards other platforms that offer new experiences. Another salient finding was that despite age restrictions, more tweens access networking sites than their teen counterparts.

But social media is not all hunky-dory and fun. It involves certain risks and its necessary that the youth are made aware of these before they sign up, including:

  • Cyberbullying: 36% youth have faced or witnessed cyberbullying
  • Addiction: Children are becoming addicted to various social media platforms and experience mood swings based on responses and ‘likes’
  • ID theft, hacking and scams: Often people tick boxes in a hurry without even reading T&Cs or accept friendship requests just to be more ‘popular’
  • Grooming: Paedophiles groom kids online using social media. Youth with low self-esteem face maximum risks as they look for approval online
  • Loss of privacy: Nothing is 100% safe online. So, loginID and passwords, photos and posts can be shared with the public by unscrupulous people

Admittedly, parents are mostly digital immigrants but still they are best guides for their child.Just like they wouldn’t let children go for a sleepover without investigating the household, similarly they should study the online media world first, discuss the pros and cons with the children and then allow them to sign up. However, McAfee survey reveals that only 46% youth’s parents have had a conversation with them about online safety, while 52% said their parents simply don’t care.

Sadly, even the most tech-savvy parents often forget that personal devices also need to be secured. Advanced security software offering parental controls is a necessary protection till children gain emotional and intellectual maturity.

By far, the most important online safety tip to give a kid is: STOP, THINK & CONNECT

Stop before you reply, retweet, like or share a post. Think is it true? Can it flare tension, cause negativity? And Connect only when optimistic that the post is safe to send.

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