The Digital Age: Posting Rules for Teenagers

The Digital Age: Posting Rules for Teenagers

Teaching your children etiquette used to mean ensuring that they were well mannered on the playground or in school.  Now, it encompasses online etiquette, or “netiquette,” as well, and parents must also focus on how their adolescents are conducting themselves on the Internet.  With teenagers in constant use of social media platforms coupled with the feasibility of slander and libel going viral, the countless opportunities for having one’s privacy invaded, and the emphasis high school and college administrators and employers place on checking social media profiles, it is imperative to teach your children about the dark side of the Internet and the dangers and inherent risks in anonymity, spiteful comments, and humiliating photos.

Here are a few rules the Internet lawyers at Hutcherson Law recommend for your teenagers when it comes to posting or using social media platforms.  Being careful with netiquette can help minimize the effects of cyberbullying, illegal photo sharing, and other dangerous online behaviors.

Tip #1—Post with Your Future in Mind

Once you post something on the Internet it is there forever.  Disagreement with a friend?  Dealing with a break up?  Photos holding a red Solo cup?  Sure, in the moment postings always seem like a good idea, but when you do decide that the post isn’t a good idea, you may not be able to delete the post.  And, even if you are able to delete it, it may remain accessible to others.  When posting anything online, think about how potential employers or colleges will feel about the post.

Tip #2—Be Conscious of What You Are Sharing

Many teenagers may not realize that what they are posting online can affect their lives.  But, posts that are potentially viewed by thousands of people can be seriously damaging, not just to them, but to others too.  And oversharing can cause serious problems, particularly invasion of privacy.  Avoid posting personal information such as your address, phone number, that parents are going out of town for a weekend, your mother’s maiden name, details about legal issues that you or your family may be facing, or any other details about your personal life that could be a password cue.

Tip #3—Don’t Be Impulsive

Impulsive behavior may be part of being a teenager, but when it comes to sending a flirtatious or promiscuous photo of yourself or a friend always think twice.  A naked image of anyone under the age of 18 is considered child pornography, even if the person consented and shared it with you directly.  Additionally, if the photo ends up in the wrong hands, the sender can quickly become a victim of invasion of privacy.

Tip #4—Follow the Golden Rule

The golden rule of online posting is the same as the golden rule of life: treat others the way you want to be treated.  Posting harmful or disrespectful comments or photos about another person can lead to serious legal trouble.  It’s better to avoid this by thinking twice about what you want to include in your digital footprint.


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