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Social Media Privacy and Teens: Facebook’s Changing Rules

This past month, a couple of different policies have shaken up the social media scene for teenagers, and while it may seem like a tricky world to fully grasp, it is important to understand the implications of these new policies.

Most recently, Facebook has loosened its privacy settings for teenagers. Teens can now post status updates, photos, and videos that can be seen by anyone, not just friends.

Social Media Privacy and Teens

While the default setting for teenagers ages 13-17 only lets friends see posts, teens can now opt to share a post with the public. Note: This is already true on Instagram, also owned by Facebook, where teens are able to post “selfies” for anyone to see.

“It essentially enlarges the opportunity for exposure and interaction,” said Leslie Hobbs, director of public relations for “The risk factor for teens is greater.”

At the same time, California recently enacted a rule that requires all websites to provide an eraser button for teenagers. The law lets anyone under the age of 18 remove an online post after the fact.

Governor Jerry Brown of California seems to understand that teenagers may not always think through the repercussions of an online post before clicking post.

The Internet and social media make it so easy for a teen to post something he will later regret. And unfortunately, not all states are as understanding as California. With Facebook making it possible for your teen to impulsively post content to the public, how can you educate your teen to make the right choices?

Social Media And Privacy: Avoiding Mistakes

With all these changing Facebook privacy rules, Hobbs suggests that the most basic step is to talk to your teen on an ongoing basis.

“There are always social media horror stories in the news,” she said. “Create a conversation with your child. Ask her what she thinks, what she would have done differently, what she thinks should have happened. Work hard to build empathy in your teen. Help them understand that online comments and pranks have real-world impact on someone. Let them know the dangers of being too open.”

You can bring up how words can affect other people. How they can hurt friends. Or impact a future college or job application. How it’s not always so easy to just press erase.

Rebecca Borison is a writer in New York City.

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