Teenagers like children of any age, are so trusting because of their lack of experience or exposure to the real world. Their concept of danger is usually limited, they would naturally view any adult as a source of protection and guidance. They are also in the exploration stage where life is one big fun adventure, as a result, they may be naive and miss the red flags.
Red flags to watch out for in Social Media platforms
Examine the person’s profile carefully;
- How many friends or followers does the person have?
- When did they join the social media platform?
- Do they have a profile picture that looks real?
- Do they have any social media interaction e.g. status updates, posts of events, photos?
- Are they talking to anyone else other than you?
- How much time do they spend on social media e.g. are you experiencing excessive inboxes or dms from a particular person?
Newly created profiles with photo shopped images or images sourced online are red flags. Profiles with less than 10 followers or friends are also suspect, and a profile that has no activity or looks like it’s designed specifically for communication with one particular person should raise enough suspicion.
For what purposes should teenagers be using Social Media?
Preferably social media use should be delayed as much as possible until someone is at least above 18yrs of age and capable of making mature, responsible and informed decisions. Starting social media too early has more consequences than benefits and focus on school work becomes compromised. Where absolutely necessary, teenagers should use social media platforms;
- As communication platforms for school events, activities
- For research purposes
- To keep up with current affairs
- To follow positive role models
If used correctly, social media can have a positive effect e.g. access to general information, inspirational posts, infomercials about curbing exam stress, study or fashion tips etc. Whatever the use, the content should at least be monitored by an adult from time to time and the actual time spent on social media must also be regulated.
7 Online Safety Tips
- Be less trusting of people you don’t know
- Do not jump into the bandwagon and do things that are out of character simply because everyone is doing it or its deemed cool
- Regularly update and check in with your parents whenever you are away from home
- Take all social media profiles and content with a pinch of salt
- Invest more in real life face to face relationships
- Never share your personal information online with strangers
- Never travel alone when going to meet someone for the first time.