Everyone is familiar with some of the dangers that come with using social media. They may include scams, phishing, identity, and privacy theft as well as many others. But when it comes to teenagers, there are some specific dangers that target this group. After all, teens are somewhat naïve, trusting and not as knowledgeable as adults. The targeting of teens by online predators is a danger that should be discussed with all teens, as should sexting and cyberbullying.
Top Danger #1: Teens think “private” means it’s safe
Teens need to know that using social media is not automatically safe because their settings are set to “private.” Teens like to post comments and images to friends, or friends of friends as well as people that they may have played a game online. Bottom line – they really don’t know who they are sharing their posts with.
If a child is posting to social media site like Tinder, which is one of the top dating apps that lets teens as young as 13 register, it may be appropriate to delete their account in order to protect them from online predators and other bad actors. There are some common threats that teens face on Tinder, and the biggest one is phishing.
When signing up for Tinder, you’re required to give your email and phone number, and you have to link your account to your Facebook profile. Every time you use Tinder, they track your location and collect all of your data to send targeted ads. That data can be hacked and that’s where the bad actors can start phishing.
If this is becoming a problem, it may be time to delete Tinder. Here’s what to do: whether you’re deleting via the app or the website, the steps are the same. Just log into your account, tap the profile icon on the top of the screen. Next, go to settings and scroll down to “Delete Account.” Click on “Delete” – and you’ll get a message that says “Account is successfully deleted..” To completely delete the app, and eliminate all the spam and messages, The easiest way is to just hold your finger on the app’s icon – when you see it wiggle and there’s an “x” in the upper corner, click on it, or drag it to the trash. For more options and a comprehensive look at how to be removed from Tinder.com, view complete instructions here.
Here are more dangers to be aware of:
Top Danger #2: Sharing too much information
There are things teens talk about online that they would never reveal in person or at school. If a predator is stalking a teen, any information that the teen reveals will be helpful in letting that predator gain the information and ammunition they need to potentially connect with the teen in person.
Teens migrate to messaging and chat sites like Kik Messenger, WhatsApp, MeetMe and others. These are sites where teens tend to reveal a great deal of information about them – often way too much information. They also use sites like SnapChat, TikTok and Instagram to share photos and videos. While most are innocuous, many are far too revealing and often contain selfies that may feature nudity or other uncompromising images. Teens need to know that images contain embedded information that can reveal where they’re located – making it easier for a predator to find them.
Top Danger #3: Trusting Strangers
If a teen meets someone online, they often don’t know who they’re really meeting. Many sexual predators, scammers and identity thieves create avatars and pose as someone else. For example, a 13-year old may think she is chatting with a 13-year old boy may really be chatting with a 35-year old predator. It’s far too easy to fake an identity online.
Teenagers need to learn that they should never reveal where they live (city, state, address or zip code), or the name of the school they go to. If a teen begins to develop trust or creates a relationship with someone online, they may risk taking that relationship to an unsafe level.
Top Danger #4: Becoming a victim of cyberbullying
Cyberbullying has become a major problem in today’s society, which can lead to low self-esteem, depression and even suicide. It’s hurtful and dangerous, and it’s up to parents to educate their teens about the problem and how to avoid being a part of it.Pa
A parent should question their teenager and ask how they would feel if a message they were sending came to them. This simple little exercise will show a teen just how negative and hurtful certain messages can be, and how those messages can impact the person receiving them.
Top Danger #5: Falling for scams
Teens are trusting, so it’s no surprise that they often fall prey to scams. It’s not necessarily about giving out an address or phone numbers, but it can be as simple as downloading a “free” game where they can win “prizes,” which puts malware and spyware in the kids tablet or computer. The other side of the “free” games is they ask kids to put in their parent’s credit card information in order to play.
Parents must teach their teens that if something sounds too good to be true, it’s not true at all. It’s a simple caveat, but it applies to the online world in particular. The more aware teens are about what can go wrong when they’re online, the better!
By being aware of the dangers lurking online, parents and their teens can avoid the heartbreak of cyber predators, bullies and scams, making the online experience a good one.