Ask the average teen what they think about “selfies” and you’ll likely get a flippant response. The truth is that selfies have become so common that teens often don’t think twice before snapping and sharing. Unfortunately, not all selfies are safe, and your child needs to know the difference between an innocent photo and a potentially dangerous situation. If your teen is posting self-snapped pictures online, schedule a face-to-face chat to share these selfie safety tips ASAP.
Think Location, Location, Location
As with any pictures your child shares on social media, he or she should be careful not to reveal any private information, especially regarding location. Many social media platforms and apps have GPS features that tag photos with the sender’s location. This is an online predator’s dream come true. Avoid these apps altogether or at a minimum, disable any GPS capabilities. Teach your child to scrutinize photos for other details that may reveal his or her location such as street signs and landmarks. Even something as innocuous as a high school logo on a T-shirt or gym bag can tip a predator off to a child’s location.
Zoom in On Reputation
Tell your child that posting something online is like writing with a Sharpie—it’s permanent. Selfies, of course, are no exception. Your child’s online presence will likely be evaluated in the future by recruiters, admissions counselors, and employers, so reputation management is a necessity. Advise your child not to post selfies that are immodest or potentially offensive. The best selfies are those that express contentment and self-confidence.
It’s also important to know that selfies are sometimes used by teens for the purpose of sexting. Clearly communicate to your child the potentially public nature of any sort of texting and let him or her know that is never ok to send a revealing picture to anyone, even if it supposed to be kept private. Even Snapchats, which disappear within seconds, can be captured with a screen shot and shared with the whole world in an instant.
Everything in Moderation
Nearly everything is better in moderation, and this includes selfies. Posting too many pictures of oneself can be perceived as desperate, vain, or at the very least, obsessive. Advise your child to post these types of photos every now and then, not daily.
According to a Pew Internet survey, 91% of teens have posted a picture of themselves online. Oxford Dictionaries made “selfie” the word of the year, and pop singer Justin Bieber is launching an app devoted wholly to the self-pic phenomenon. Like it or not, by all indications, selfies are here to stay, so be sure your teen is selfie savvy before it’s too late.
Teens, Social Media, and Privacy http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Teens-Social-Media-And-Privacy/Summary-of-Findings.aspx