You cannot deny the power of the internet in our lives. More so, with its power towards our children’s lives. While it slowly rots children’s interpersonal relationships, careless misuse of the internet may also bring havoc in their personal lives. Vital information defining our identities are stored on the Internet just like our passwords, birthdates, residential addresses, debit and credit card numbers, telephone and cell phone numbers, social security number, and so forth. This information is what hackers are after. Cambareri & Brenneck is offering readers everywhere this tutorial on how to get through social media and avoiding identity theft:
Such highly classified information can be used against you and your children. What if one morning you just wake up to find that someone else has all your information? All of these are not meant to scare you but to warn you and your kids on how to use the internet wisely.
What do Social Media Statistics say?
The number of social media applications available on the Internet is rising tremendously. In just a click, your children can have instant access to any free or paid social media applications.
According to smartinsights.com, there are 3.419 billion internet users as of January 2016. Among these internet users, 2.307 billion are actively engaged in social media. Furthermore, 1,968 billion are active in using social media apps through their mobile phones. These statistics only prove the massive continuous growth of social media use. Although its penetration reaches all ages and gender groups, social media penetration is highly brought about by its popularity among the younger age groups.
Among the most popular social media apps are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr and Pinterest. As of February 2016, a survey by statistica.com showed that 66 percent of internet users aged 13 to 24 years old used Instagram which is a photo-sharing app. Facebook still proves to be popular with 74 percent patronage of ages 12 to 24 years old.
Why do kids and teens use social media?
Aside from being a communication platform, Social media apps are patronized by teenagers because of a deeper social association they can get from using the apps. They are at the age where they seek belonging and acceptance. Some use apps out of complete curiosity. Others do not even dare to go offline because they fear to be left out on what is in trend.
Types of Social Media Apps
There are different types of social media apps out there and the list is endless. Before you download and peek through your child’s social media apps, here are categories of social media apps you should know.
First, there are text messaging apps. These apps as its name imply let the users text for free. One kind of text messenger is the Kik Messenger where the exchange of texts is fast and has no message limits. There is also Whatsapp where users can send not only simple texts but also videos, photos, and audio messages to a lot of contacts. Although they are free, such apps pose some threats and dangers when not regulated. Since these apps are meant to connect, strangers can easily get in contact with anyone. Some ill hearted crimes such as murder and child pornography happened through these apps because the user poses and displays their photos and even their full names and addresses.
Next is the micro-blogging apps and sites like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Vine. In these apps, endless photos and videos are shared privately and publicly wherein teenagers gauge their popularity by the number of likes and shares that they get from their networks and followers. It is a platform to express feelings, life in a day, and other whatnots of teenagers. The downside of these sites, however, is the limitless sharing of information and exposure to adult rated information such as pornography, violence, and even drug use. Not to mention that there is also where most cyberbullying happens. In the Vine app, users are able to watch 6 seconds of video clips with limitless themes. What is disturbing is that there are a lot of inappropriate clips found which can be browsed easily like nudity, marijuana smoking, and other daring posts.
The third is the live-streaming video apps found in YouNow, Periscope, and is also one of the features offered by Facebook. This platform allows one to record one’s self live thus giving the viewers live broadcasts and they in turn can give live comments. The main purpose of this feature is to get many viewers and make something trending. Since this is a live recording and viewing, sometimes the information being shared is spontaneous making it hard to take back what was already said. There may be times also that they may share vital information by accident which can be used against them.
There is also the self-destructing or secret apps such as the Burn Note, Snapchat, Whisper, and YikYak. In these apps messages, videos, and photos shared erases after a certain period of time. However, teens should not be too trustful on these apps as data is still data. There is no absolute assurance that whatever was shared online will disappear forever. If there are instances of humiliating photos or videos of you shared, chances are the other receiving user may take a screenshot of that before it disappears. Also, there are times wherein hackers can actually retrieve even erased information.
Finally, there are dating apps and sites such as MeetMe, Skout, and Tinder. Well, the name says everything about these apps. They are the most famous and yet dangerous apps because using them may involve meet-ups, matching, or possible hookups with strangers in the hope of finding that one true love. Creating an account also requires more information from the user such as their address and their current location as these apps are geo-targeted or location-based.
Train Kids To Be Vigilant on Identity Theft:
Now that you know the kinds of social media apps, here are some tips as to how to guide your kids in using the apps responsibly to avoid identity theft online.
Rule number one, tell them that Social Media is forever. Yes, there is a forever. The problem with kids right now is that they are living the slogan YOLO or You Only Live Once attitude. Thus, they tend to act out whatever they feel and think at the moment without precautions. They recklessly share photos of the party hopping and drinking alcohol thinking that it is cool. Yes, it may be for a while but ask them if this will merit them a decent job once their future employer accessed their posts. In addition, all personal information shared online can be used by hackers.
Rule number two, do not divulge personal information with friends. Teens trust their pool of friends more than anyone else during this stage. They share almost everything to gossips, body issues, family issues, and worst even their parents’ credit card numbers and passcodes. What is worst is the sharing of their own credit and debit card information which may easily get passed around. If these happen, warn your teens to be responsible and emphasize that not all information about them should be shared willingly with others.
Rule number three, give them the how’s to protect them from frauds. The first way is to be informed first before you discuss identity theft and other schemes. You should be wary of a scheme called phishing. This is where a hacker makes a website similar to the one you or your kids often use. A legitimate website will ask for a username, password, and even credit or debit card codes. In phishing, the hacker sets you up into typing your information in their dummy site giving them access to your personal information. Once you have done your research, talk one on one with your kids, and lay down ground rules which they can follow to protect themselves. You can make it cool if you let them suggest ways on how they can protect themselves from fraud. Making them feel involved in the process will more likely give you a positive result as opposed to just giving them orders. Treat them like an adult during the discussion and let them decide on some matters. Doing so will make them realize that they should be responsible for themselves more than anyone else.
Regulating the social media use of your children may sound uncool. But being informed first about the online world they are in gives you enough knowledge on how you can remind them to slow down and be protective of themselves. Never tire to remind them because risks and threats are everywhere. If you or your child have experienced identity theft or any crimes online, do not hesitate to visit our competent lawyers who can help you at www.teamgreenlawyers.com. Enjoy browsing!