Giving truth to Memphis youth
by Sydney Prather (White Station High School)
It’s no secret that teens spend a good deal of time on social media. It is virtually impossible to go outside and not see someone with a smart phone in their face. Teens know that social media is a large part of today’s culture, but do they really know how to be smart and safe while online?
It is one of the earliest conversations that parents have with their kids in the modern world. Don’t talk to strangers, don’t share personal information, and don’t post something you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. Many teens have had this conversation at one point or another, but do teens actually heed these warnings? Girls still post pictures of themselves in bikinis on Instagram. Boys still pose shirtless and tweet it out to hundreds or even thousands of followers. The internet is becoming a larger part of the lives of teenagers but it seems like their security levels have been dropping.
There are several ways to avoid making mistakes online that could haunt teens later in life. Melissa Kimble of Kimble Communications in Chicago recommends using the three R’s: (be) Responsible, (be) Respectful, and (be) Random.
Being responsible should be a given, she advised. Everything online is out there for everyone to see, so why post a picture of someone posing half naked? Things posted are visible to a teen’s parents, friends, admission officers, and even future employers.
Being respectful is just as important as being responsible. “Eighty-one percent of teens agree that online bullying is easier to get away with than bullying face to face,” Kimble said. When teens see people making fun of someone online, they shouldn’t participate, she added.
Finally, Kimble said ‘Be random!’ Don’t try to be someone you aren’t online. The best way to gain a strong following is talking about what you enjoy. Others who enjoy the same thing will follow you. If you pretend to like something you don’t just to gain popularity online, what’s the point? You won’t truly enjoy being on social media, and that’s the whole point isn’t it; to have fun?
Social media is a great tool that allows teens to connect with people all over the world. It is also a highly abused tool, so learning to be smart and be safe online is a big deal. It may seem like a cliché, but listening to parents (and people like Kimble) when say not to talk to strangers, not to share personal information, and not to post things you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see can save you from a lot of trouble later on.