The Internet is buzzing with social media, and it has affected almost every strata of the society, especially the youth. You can hardly keep your teenager away from the social media. Though, it is a great platform to network and communicate, and definitely the need of the hour, social media hazards are innumerable to even anticipate and prevent. While, we are aware of the many evils of social media, there are many more digital predators lurking in the dark with their innovative ways to harm you and your reputation. The various social media tools that teenagers use today are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and many others.

According to the recent TCS Youth Survey, Facebook is still the most preferred social media platform. The survey tracked the digital habits of youths in the age group of 12 to 18 years and found that 89% of them used Facebook, while 71% used Google+. 28% of the respondents said that they spend at least one hour everyday online. Parents play an important role in monitoring and ensuring that online presence of their children is not compromised or used to attack them in any way. In the survey, it was found that for 48% of children, parents monitor their online activities, while 49% said that their parents have access to their online accounts. Another important observation from the survey has been that boys are more active online and on social networking sites than girls.

Simply protecting your accounts with strong passwords or avoiding certain websites is not enough to safeguard yourself from online predators. They can even hack into your personal network and create problems. So, to ensure that your social media network is safe and secure, you probably need to be extra careful from your own side.

Social Media tools have their own set of privacy and security rules and guidelines, which they keep updating from time to time with innovative ways to counter online threats to its users. However, it is your information that you need to protect and preserve.

5 common mistakes that teenagers need to avoid in social media are as follows:

Sharing too much:

Sharing too much of information even within your own circle can be dangerous. It might reveal your location, your current state and other information to make you vulnerable. So, teens should not share too much of personal photographs or tag locations. They should avoid posting embarrassing status messages about themselves or others, hate messages about religion or others, rant against parents or lie. They need to know how much sharing is safe and allowed.

Getting friendly with strangers:

Though, meeting and networking with a large audience is one of the biggest advantages of the Internet or social media, but it is the biggest drawback too. It is very difficult to judge the person on the other side of the screen. So, you never know who might be chatting or being friends with you, just to prey on you. So, it is not safe to include strangers into your personal network as this way you are also putting others in danger. Do not agree to meet a stranger unless accompanied by an adult. Always tell your parents if you feel uneasy about a particular person or if someone bothers you too much.

Sharing passwords:

This is one of the biggest mistakes teens do. Your security is in your own hands. So, do not share passwords and other login credentials with anyone, not even with friends, boyfriends and family. You never know, who might be using it for some wrong reason and putting the blame on you. Other than your own parents, you probably don’t trust anyone with things like your account password.

Lack of privacy settings:

Many a times, we see that sharing over the social media is done without any privacy settings. All the major tools have their own privacy setting option to empower you to safeguard yourself. So, take advantage of those and protect your personal information like address, phone number and also pictures. You can define who can see and comment on them and who cannot. So, use privacy settings in your account to ensure safety.

Cyberbullying:

Since, we have moved to the Internet, cyberbullying has been one of the biggest threats. Especially, teens are vulnerable to cyberbullying. So, being a cyberbully themselves or a victim is both harmful for them. There are strict laws against such behaviour and they need to understand the consequences before committing any such thing. It is always better to refrain from cyberbullying and report if they witness anything like this online. Their conscious decision will help to keep the social media, clean and safe.

Social media is a great place to be in, but you need to be well aware of the loopholes and threats. Once you are cautious on what you share and with whom and follow certain guidelines, you will be able to leverage the advantage of social media, while keeping yourself safe and secure.

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