Friday, December 6, 2013

Teens Get Tips with "Think Before You Share"

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about Facebook and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence teaming up to end bullying with the installation of the Bully Prevention Hub.  To expand on these features, Facebook has joined with MediaSmarts, a Canadian nonprofit organization, to create a guide to help Facebook’s younger users to "Think Before You Share."  MediaSmarts and Facebook hopes that these tips will help teens make more conscious decisions about what they share online.  According to MediaBistro, "Facebook said it will run ads on the social network to promote Think Before You Share to both teens and parents."  A statement on the top of the PDF document that can be downloaded, says:
"We always hear that sharing is a good thing. And thanks to technology, we can share our ideas, opinions, pictures and videos with our friends and other people. Most of the time, sharing is good. But if we aren’t thoughtful about how we share, we run the risk of hurting ourselves or someone else. Also, remember that the things you share with your friends can end up being shared with others. That’s why it’s important to think before you share."
A few great tips for teens that the PDF provides are:

  • It’s not a good idea to share things when you’re feeling really emotional – whether you’re angry, sad, or excited. Calm down first and then decide if it’s really a good idea. 
  • Passwords are not social: There’s some things you need to be really careful about sharing. Sometimes friends share passwords with each other when all is good, but unfortunately this can turn into a nightmare later.  Don’t share your password with anyone.
  • If what you received makes that person look bad, would embarrass them, or could hurt them if it got around, don’t pass it on. The person who sent it to you may have meant it as a joke, but jokes can be a lot less funny when something is seen by the wrong person. 
  • If you shared something you shouldn’t have, the first step is to ask the people you sent it to not to pass it on.
The guide was first announced on December 4, 2013 online at Facebook's Safety Page.  Cathy Wing, the Co-Executive Director at MediaSmarts, released a statement saying:
For young people, more than anyone else, digital media is all about sharing: Whether it’s their thoughts, photos, or their latest favorite videos, almost all of the devices and platforms that youths use are designed to make it easy for them to share things with their friends. In MediaSmarts’ research with young people, we have looked carefully at the habits and attitudes youth have toward sharing things online, as well as their worries, bad experiences, and strategies for avoiding problems and fixing things when they go wrong.
One of the most interesting findings in recent research is that with the exception of online gaming, young people almost exclusively socialize online with people that they also know offline. That doesn’t mean that they’re not worried about their privacy: In fact, the youths we spoke to were very concerned about the things they posted online being seen by unintended audiences and acutely aware of the possibility that something meant for one friend might cause trouble if seen by another. They were also very conscious of the need to manage how they were portrayed in social media by other people, such as in revealing or embarrassing photos.
What do you think?  Do you think that Think Before You Share will be a helpful resource for teens?

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