Do people today share too much information online?
It doesn’t take long to realize that students today usually don’t have a filter to what they are going to post online. Students are going to post photos from what they ate that day, to who they are “chilling and watching netflix” with, to posting selfies at parties with or without alcohol or drug use. What teenagers today don’t realize is that when we post things online, they are online. The internet isn’t a private social network site for you and your closest 4 billion friends. It’s the world wide web. It’s for everyone.
We that said, we as youth workers need to help parents (who are posting just as much sketchy stuff) and their kids transition into a digital world with a digital footprint. That digital footprint can’t be erased easily. That is why we need to be careful on what and how we post things. I might not affect a teenager today, but it might hurt their chance of getting a job eight years from now.
Here is a infographic/poster from microsoft. You can check out their website of awesome resources for parents, students, and preteens here. It’s awesome, and so useful for youth workers. This infographic is called: The Naked Truth: Beware of what you share.
Here are a few things that stood out:
1. 91% of teens share the nudes/seminude images and suggestive messages sent to them. I don’t know if I can be any clearer. Things we post online or send in messages aren’t private. They are going to be shared.
I will never forget the first time I realized that things online weren’t private. I was included in a private chat years ago with 6 teenagers. They were having a conversation about the youth group, and at the end they were making fun of someone. I made a sarcastic comment in the thread. I thought it was funny, but I realized about an hour later that one of the students took a screen shot of the chat and posted it Facebook. I didn’t the sarcastic comment out there for all my friends, family and wife to see. It wasn’t awful, but I didn’t like it. That was when I realized that every conversation could be made public. Especially when we are dealing with students.
2. 51% of students are worried about what a potential employer might see about them online. In the next 5-10 years this will become more of an issue, and lead to anxiety for students coming out of school. Their employers will be googling/harvesting information in order to find the best person to work for their company.
There has to be a way that we can reinforce this idea that students need to beware of their social profiles. Not that it needs to be perfect, but that it could affect their life years from now.
3. 43% of teenagers have been victims of cyberbullying. This is alarming. Almost half the the students you work with have been bullied online. That isn’t acceptable. I know that for my youth ministry, we work hard at making it a safe place, but what about making a community a safe digital place? We need to empower students, and parents to not be victims of other teenagers behind a screen in their room.
I feel like we are the wild west of the digital era. My kids will be fully immersed in it, and we are seeing the emotional, physical, and spiritual consequences of a digital presence and relationships. There is a long way to go, and a lot of grace needed for students and parents as we walk in this new digital era.
Make sure to download the poster here.