By Karen Hendricks
Welcome to “Gettysburg Social!” This column examines the latest social media trends and was first published in Celebrate Gettysburg magazine, March/April 2014.
Ninety-five percent of American teens have access to the Internet and 78 percent own a cell phone—two reasons that social media use continues to soar among teenagers. According to the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of online teens use social media. What can adults do to help teens stay safe and maintain a healthy perspective?
Arm yourself with the e-facts
- Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the top three social media sites used by teens. All three require users to be at least 13 years old.
- Sixty percent of teens use privacy settings on Facebook, meaning only friends can see their posts and photos. That means 40 percent grant public access to their photos and information.
- Ninety-two percent use their real names on the profiles they use most often; 91 percent post photos of themselves.
Social media can be accessed on cell phones, computers, iPods and other devices. Set usage limits and make sure teens maintain a balance of “real life,” studying, sports/activities, family time and socializing with friends vs. “screen time.” This may not win you a “mother-of-the-year” award!
Talk to teens about boundaries, privacy and safety. Topics for discussion include location-enabled services, privacy settings, appropriate language and examples of cyberbullying.
Photo-sharing can be a wonderful aspect of social media, especially for teens’ friends or family in faraway places. But talk about the permanence of viral photos and stay on top of a trend that spirals out of control for many teens: posting “selfies.”
Look at the big e-picture
Social media use can impact future college and job applications. Help teens understand that their actions, online or otherwise, have consequences that reach beyond their teenage years.
One last statistic: 72 percent of parents say they do not get involved in their teens’ social media use because they are “overwhelmed by technology,” and they just hope for the best.
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Karen Hendricks, the mother of three teens, owns Hendricks Communications, a Gettysburg-based firm specializing in PR, marketing and related services such as social media. She also teaches social media classes regularly at the Adams County Arts Council.