We may all live in a human zoo but when it comes to the internet it suddenly becomes a jungle and no more so than when young girls and boys start posting their pictures to social networking sites and other forums online as well as sharing them in text messages. As they get older and start to share pictures with friends and family the need to understand privacy protocols particularly for sharing pictures becomes more and more important particularly when some of the pictures that get posted may be shared in all innocence but received completely differently and particularly when the pictures that are being shared might not be ones that the contributor might really want to share with the entire world.
More and more teenagers (as well as the rest of us) and indeed younger children who are masquerading as teenagers despite policies that would otherwise state that users for certain sites should be at least 13, are posting pictures that cover the whole spectrum of their lives from walks out with the dog, to pictures in the school playground, to their party antics, private family events and holiday snaps as well as of course, the world famed “in front of the mirror” cutie poses strutting the latest hair does, make up try outs, fashion trends and possibly even more worryingly body art and body sculptures!
But what thought goes into sharing these pictures and what aspirations arise on the back of posting such pictures to the internet with the propensity of “like” and “comment” buttons that abound on many sites now possibly beg more questions than they answer. Uploading a “hot” image and being chuffed by the number of “likes” and “comments” it might get may boost the ego but in the real world it doesn’t really make you more popular or give you buy-in to the in crowd and can actually end up backfiring and doing exactly the opposite. In fact research shows that sharing a holiday snap, clad in skimpy bikini, might seem like a good idea on holiday, particularly when the tan is begging to be showed up or that slim flat stomach and cleavage might up the ratio of likes and comments or in the case of the boys, bulging muscles and emerging six pack, but in the long run such pictures leave these teenagers and young adults vulnerable to a number of cyber related problems which are way out of their league from bullying to sex pests with longevity sometimes costing college and even job places later on!
The advice therefore is simple, needs to be imprinted early on and revolves around these three golden principals that
1. Nothing on the Internet can be assumed to be private. Even if privacy settings are set to just friends, pictures and content on screen can always be copied (whether or not this is legal is another thing) and then this can always be used elsewhere. Once the image is out there is can become viral and do a lot of damage a long time before any legal injunctions can be sought.
2. Everything that goes on the Internet is forever. There are sites out there that will pull up data (that’s pictures and content) from sites that have been deleted from way back. If you post something on-line expect it to stay on-line indefinitely!
3. Privacy matters for long term best interests. Always be savvy when it comes to privacy matters. If you don’t understand how to protect yourself online or how to use settings and privacy controls then quite simply don’t use it. If you are unsure don’t use it. And above all don’t post anything that you would be happy with your Dad, Mum, Teacher and Grandmother seeing either now, tomorrow or in 50 years time and even then question that!
By learning to consider what is appropriate to share and what is not, teenagers build the muscle to respect themselves as well as other people which is part and parcel of valuing themselves and acknowledge their intrinsic worth. From that they develop self-esteem and a healthy confidence which is naturally attractive because the off spin becomes a healthy respect and regard for others around them as well!
At the end of the day surely that picture is much more likely to get a hit on the “like” button!