3 Hot Teen Trends in Social Media

Years ago MySpace gave way to Facebook.  Now we have many social networks out there such as Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and more.

It is important that teens understand how to use their privacy settings in all their social media sites as well as never to give out their passwords.

Common Sense Media reminds parents of the current apps that teens are using today:

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Social Media: How Did We Network Before the Internet?

HandshakeHow did you meet?

How did you find your job?

How did you select your college?

How did you find your home or apartment?

Many of us have heard our parents and grandparents story of “when they grew up….” how they didn’t have many of today’s luxuries (or what some consider necessities) that we have today. Whether it is a telephone or computers, times have changed.

From reading the classifieds in a newspaper to surfing websites that offer jobs, homes, and the news – the way people interact has shifted into social networking.

Let’s begin with some definitions.

What is networking? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually. Networking is nothing more than making and nurturing connections between people. We all do it, though some are more adept at it than others. Usually, a network is defined as a group of connections through which people socialize, share resources, and enhance productivity.

Now, define “Old School.” A time before the advent of web sites created for the purpose of networking is implied by the last three words. But, how far back should I go? I’ll go all the way back, and use my own personal history to give a series of little snapshots.

1960-70′s

As a child, I carried my network in my head. It consisted of the people in my family and extended family, neighbors, and some people in our small town with whom I had regular contact. Memory and close interaction were sufficient to maintain my network up until high school. That was when I started keeping a notebook with names, addresses, and phone numbers of people that I wanted to stay in touch with in the future. I graduated high school in the mid 1970′s and my network continued to grow.

1980′s

By 1980 I had begun my career, and my social network began to acquire professional connections. Most of the connections were still stored only in my memory, but those that were useful but not used on a regular basis were kept in a “little black book” and on a rolodex. The black book was simply a notebook with sections based on an alphabetical listing of people’s last names. A rolodex, for those of you that are unfamiliar with the term, was a storage system for business cards that could be organized by name or business category.

Actual business and social connections were maintained through personal contact, telephone conversations, and the occasional letter sent or received by US mail. Much effort was made to schedule time for coffee and lunch meetings, and other social activities that helped to nurture face to face time and opportunities for personal discussion. There were then, as there are now, secondary and tertiary connections in my network with people that I had never met or spoken with, people connected to the primary contacts in my network. If I wanted to connect with one of these, I would make contact with the person that I knew of them through, and ask for an introduction.

1990′s

This was pretty much standard throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with the introduction of personal computers making it slightly easier to keep track of network connections. Computers brought databases that could be manipulated to store and correlate network connections. This meant that even those of us that are not naturally adept as information organizers could keep track of larger networks with a little effort. Through the 1990s, both cell phones and email became common and helped to make networks even more accessible and useful. Because we carried our phones with us, we could reach each other to speak more easily, and the ability of email to connect the same information with a lot of people at the same time brought us right to the edge of today’s proliferation of social media and personal technology.

Networking has been made easier, though sometimes a little less personal, with the technologies and media that have grown in the last few decades, but it has always been with us. From the beginning of civilization to now and beyond, networking is simply part of who we are and how we get things done. Nowadays we just happen to use LinkedIn, FaceBook, and Twitter to make it easier than ever to create, extend, and keep in touch with our network.

Contributor: My ISP Finder

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What Your Teens Think of Your Online Reputation?

You know you’re a pretty good parent. Sure, you’re not perfect – but most of the time, you do what you have to do to provide a comfortable, nurturing life for your kids. Most importantly, your children love and respect you.

But because kids are naturally curious, they will start to wonder about aspects of your life that they aren’t familiar with. And since kids are computer-savvy, they’re likely to turn to the Internet to find the answers rather than ask you.

When they type your name into a search engine, what will they come across? Will they discover:

  • Inflammatory comments from you? Did you insult someone on a Facebook thread? Send out a foul-mouthed tweet? Or perhaps you even kept a personal blog at one point that espoused ideas you’ve since “grown out of”? They’re still out in cyberspace somewhere.
  • Embarrassing photos or videos with you in them? Maybe these images depict you drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or consuming illicit drugs. Or perhaps you were wearing provocative or inappropriate clothing. Or it’s possible you were engaging in some activity that would require a difficult and uncomfortable explanation.
  • Photos or videos containing you and other members of the opposite sex? Even innocent photos of you and an ex-significant other can set off a confused train of thought in the minds of (particularly young) children. Especially if you were kissing or hugging someone who isn’t their mother/father. (And God forbid that ill-advised sex tape ever made its way onto the Web!)
  • Negative comments made by others about you? Kids are protective of their parents, so it may hurt them if they see other people saying bad things about Mom and Dad on Facebook or other social media sites, even if they were meant in jest. Especially if they were written by people that the child knows (like family friends or relatives).
  • Your membership in groups that may be difficult to explain? In addition to traditional organizations, this includes online forums, virtual worlds, and even gaming sites. If you are found contributing to a site or group that discusses drugs, weapons, illegal activity, or pornography – even one time – that will probably initiate an awkward parent-child conversation.
  • Complaints or accusations against you professionally? If you are a business owner, lawyer, or doctor, there are sites out there that collect reviews and comments about people in your industry. Practicing good merchant, attorney, or physician reputation management will reduce the odds of your kid seeing someone insult or gripe about their mom or dad.
  • Your criminal record? Sure, those criminal record database sites cost a little money – but that doesn’t mean that your child still won’t get access to them. Even if it was a drug charge, public intoxication arrest, or a misdemeanor assault or theft, any blemish on your past could undermine any moral authority you have with your kids in the future.

You’ve probably already figured out the moral of this story: It is essential that you monitor your online reputation. This means getting problematic content off of sites you control, and even asking other site administrators to remove unflattering material. Because the last thing you want is for some long-ago incident or bad decision to come back to haunt you by jeopardizing your relationship with your children.

Guest post by Chris Martin.

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Good Passwords vs Bad Passwords

Everything requires a password in today’s world. Whether it’s logging onto our work computers, shopping on websites, or even locking smart phones, there are only so many passwords a person can remember.

Then throw in the websites that force us to change those passwords every so often. No wonder we resort to repeating passwords. But what makes a good password?

According to Forbes Magazine and based on millions of passwords that were stolen and posted online, the top 10 worst in 2011 were:

1)     password

2)     123456

3)     12345678

4)     qwerty (You’ll understand once you look at your keyboard)

5)     abc123

6)     monkey

7)     1234567

8)     letmein

9)     trustno1 (oh, the irony!)

10)  dragon (not sure why this is so popular)

(If you recognize any of these, stop reading and go change your password(s) now.)

Here are 10 tips to create secure passwords:

Five password do’s

Great passwords should:

1)     Be at least eight characters

2)     Contain characters in the middle of them

3)     Use upper- and lower-case letters

4)     Be changed regularly

5)     Kept a secret

Five don’ts:

Passwords should never:

1)     Use part of your email address

2)     Be a word from the dictionary

3)     Contain names of family members

4)     Be duplicated on other sites

5)     Use simple translation, such as pa$$word (password) or @pple (apple)

As children become more involved with online games and social-networking sites, it’s important to teach them how to create strong passwords. Hackers can steal identities in creative ways, so it’s best to never give them the chance. If they get a hold of you, your credit and much more could end up in the gutter.

One idea is to create a sentence for a password, such as IloveBarney!Purpleisfun or BritneySpearsrocks!Ilovehertunes. Choose something that you and your child can remember.

Another idea is to use the child’s name but with plenty of characters; for example, Sarah becomes :) S..@@..rr@@…Hhh:)

Remind children not to give other people their passwords. If it must be written down, place it in an out-of-the-way location.

Another common issue with passwords occurs when people reuse them for different accounts. If the account’s security is breached, many sites can then be accessed. It is possible to use variations of the same password, but it must be different enough that a hacker cannot link one account to another.

If you’re curious to see how your passwords stack up, check http://www.passwordmeter.com.

Don’t make it easy on a potential hacker. Avoid using obvious words, such as “password.” Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people use that.

Contributor:  Laura Burkey is a blogger who writes about a variety of topics including gardening, social media, and gutters.

Should You Be Your Teen’s Facebook Friend?

The big question…. Should you be your teen’s Facebook friend?

Kids these days, with their Facebooks and Twitters and the phones that are smart–who do they think they are? Flash Gordon? One thing’s for sure: When it comes to computers, these whippersnappers think their knowledge and expertise leave their parents in the Stone Age. So, Mr. or Ms. Cavedweller, should you be your child’s friend on Facebook? Is it your priority as a parent to protect her, or to trust her to do what she knows is right?

Aye!

Facebook is a netherworld of deceit and temptation–a series of gutters, each overflowing with more filth and depravity than the last. A child has neither the life experience nor the emotional maturity to recognize or appropriately deal with an online con artist or sexual predator. He needs you as his Facebook friend, if only to keep a loving watchful eye over him as he navigates the turbulent waters of social media. He may know every line of code behind Facebook’s technology, but he does not know the darkness that lies in the heart of human sharks who use Facebook as their feeding grounds. He will friend you, and that’s that.

Nay!

The tenuous bond between a parent and a teen is made of thin strands of trust. You have passed your wisdom on to her, you have led by shining example, and you have helped her to learn by her–and your–mistakes. Now is the time when you must let loose the moorings and trust her to row and steer the currents and eddies of the Sea of Facebook to find safe passage to adulthood. Leave her be, and trust that the love you two share will engender two-way trust; when she encounters trouble, she will come to you, knowing that you will assist unconditionally. Do not friend her.

Maybe?

Levity aside, this is not a choice that can be made for you, nor is it one that you should make on your own. Talk with your child; even if you exercise veto power, solicit his input. Don’t enter the discussion with preconceptions or a final decision.

The first thing you should ask is: Why does she use Facebook? Is she simply socializing with real-world friends? Does she collaborate on schoolwork or extra-curricular activities? Is she getting involved in causes or learning more about other cultures? These are a few of the ways in which Facebook can positively influence a teenager.

On the other hand, if you get the feeling that he uses Facebook to bolster his self-esteem by presenting himself to be someone he isn’t, or to find a group to fit in with, investigate further.

Whether her reasons for being on Facebook are positive, troubling, mixed, or unknown, you should at least work out a way in which you can get an idea of who she interacts with and what the tone of those interactions are. If you need more information on how Facebook works and how to talk to your child about it, check out the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) Parent’s Guide to Facebook (PDF).

Guest contributor:  Al Natanagara is a writer, journalist, and blogger whose career includes stints with ZDNet, CNet, CBS, LexisNexis, and law enforcement. He has hundreds of Facebook friends, but all of them are blocked.

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

Before Social Media – How Did You Connect?

How did you meet?

How did you find your job?

How did you select your college?

How did you find your home or apartment?

Many of us have heard our parents and grandparents story of “when they grew up….” how they didn’t have many of today’s luxuries (or what some consider necessities) that we have today. Whether it is a telephone or computers, times have changed.

From reading the classifieds in a newspaper to surfing websites that offer jobs, homes, and the news – the way people interact has shifted into social networking.

Let’s begin with some definitions.

What is networking? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually. Networking is nothing more than making and nurturing connections between people. We all do it, though some are more adept at it than others. Usually, a network is defined as a group of connections through which people socialize, share resources, and enhance productivity.

Now, define “Old School.” A time before the advent of web sites created for the purpose of networking is implied by the last three words. But, how far back should I go? I’ll go all the way back, and use my own personal history to give a series of little snapshots.

1960-70′s

As a child, I carried my network in my head. It consisted of the people in my family and extended family, neighbors, and some people in our small town with whom I had regular contact. Memory and close interaction were sufficient to maintain my network up until high school. That was when I started keeping a notebook with names, addresses, and phone numbers of people that I wanted to stay in touch with in the future. I graduated high school in the mid 1970′s and my network continued to grow.

1980′s

By 1980 I had begun my career, and my social network began to acquire professional connections. Most of the connections were still stored only in my memory, but those that were useful but not used on a regular basis were kept in a “little black book” and on a rolodex. The black book was simply a notebook with sections based on an alphabetical listing of people’s last names. A rolodex, for those of you that are unfamiliar with the term, was a storage system for business cards that could be organized by name or business category.

Actual business and social connections were maintained through personal contact, telephone conversations, and the occasional letter sent or received by US mail. Much effort was made to schedule time for coffee and lunch meetings, and other social activities that helped to nurture face to face time and opportunities for personal discussion. There were then, as there are now, secondary and tertiary connections in my network with people that I had never met or spoken with, people connected to the primary contacts in my network. If I wanted to connect with one of these, I would make contact with the person that I knew of them through, and ask for an introduction.

1990′s

This was pretty much standard throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with the introduction of personal computers making it slightly easier to keep track of network connections. Computers brought databases that could be manipulated to store and correlate network connections. This meant that even those of us that are not naturally adept as information organizers could keep track of larger networks with a little effort. Through the 1990s, both cell phones and email became common and helped to make networks even more accessible and useful. Because we carried our phones with us, we could reach each other to speak more easily, and the ability of email to connect the same information with a lot of people at the same time brought us right to the edge of today’s proliferation of social media and personal technology.

Networking has been made easier, though sometimes a little less personal, with the technologies and media that have grown in the last few decades, but it has always been with us. From the beginning of civilization to now and beyond, networking is simply part of who we are and how we get things done. Nowadays we just happen to use LinkedIn, FaceBook, and Twitter to make it easier than ever to create, extend, and keep in touch with our network.

Contributor: My ISP Finder

Join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.