Helping teens (and adults) become better online citizens

It’s easy to get caught up by all you can do with technology and feel as if you’re the master of your own domain. That mentality is pretty common with most teenagers, but when you add the ability to post stuff on-line then it can be like giving them the keys to your M12 FAV Warthog. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, kids will naturally want to push the boundaries of technology. So we thought it would make sense to take a closer look at the implications.

Last week, Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Privacy and Online Safety released the results of a survey about how teenagers behave online. It gives you a better sense of what teenagers are thinking and how that impacts the decisions they make online. They also put together a few infographics that sum up the typical attitudes, and the pitfalls of making one hasty decision.

Frankly, the  survey results aren’t too surprising: teens share more information than adults do, they feel more in control of their on-line reputation and they think that the benefits of sharing information online outweigh the risks. What’s a bit more surprising is the information from a digital citizenship whitepaper explaining that 43 percent of teens have been victims of cyber-bulling and 39 percent  have shared suggestive images with one another. Not a good move when you consider that more than a third of college admissions offices have consulted online profiles and found content that negatively impacted how they assess a prospective student.

The fact is that most teens already have an online reputation, so Microsoft also provides some guidelines to help them protect it (available in PDF at the bottom of the page). Most adults can also admit to making decisions that were impulsive or inappropriate, in which case it’s probably  worth the time to check this out for yourself as well.