Mind The Gap: Bridging the Digital Privacy Divide Between Parents and Teens

mind the gap

Parents, does it seem like the social media train has hit high speed? Don’t know where to even start to navigate the ever-changing social itinerary? True, the social media landscape is dynamic, but the time to get on board is now. Teens are driving this train, or at least influencing its destinations, and new stations are popping up daily.  (And just when the extended family finally came together on Facebook!)

Worse, there is a big disconnect between parents and children regarding safe online behaviors. According to a 2013 McAfee Digital Deception study, teens are aware of online threats, but they still engage in risky online behaviors. For example, they are not typically concerned when third parties ask to access their data (and we all know how much can be done with someone’s personal details).

Parents are too busy and overwhelmed to monitor what their kids are doing online, and teens know this, says this research.  Consequently, just like in real life, they take risks, online and then take steps to hide these activities from their parents. Hello, digital privacy gap!

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The parent-teen dynamic has always involved gaps: the communication gap and the generation gap topping the charts. The social media gap exists precisely because teens are migrating to new tools, so that they can escape parental monitoring. What is the answer, then?

Get onboard! McAfee’s study revealed that 46% of the teens surveyed would change their online behaviors if they knew their parents were paying attention! A 2013 Pew Internet study found that 91 percent of teens post photographs of themselves online. That same study revealed the 71 percent post their school name and/or the name of the town they live in. Some 53 percent post their email address. And, of course, there’s the recent incident when over 4.6 million Snapchat users had their telephone numbers compromised.

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