Is your child on Twitter? Parents are often quick to assume their teen’s social media activity is primarily focused on Facebook, but there’s a good chance they’re on Twitter too. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which explores the impact of the internet on families and civic life, found that Twitter usage by 12-17 year olds had doubled from 2008 to 2010.
For many in this age group, Twitter is appealing for multiple reasons. For one, celebrities have attracted many to the platform. Entertainers like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber each have a massive teen fan base that spills over into Twitter, with each of them logging close to 30 million followers. Teens are also drawn to Twitter because often their parents are not using it, and therefore aren’t monitoring it.
Do you think your tween or teen is ready for Twitter? If you’re not already versed in it, it’s time to educate yourself on this form of online communication and make that call. Twitter offers an overview of their platform along with tips to help you guide your teen to safely “tweet.”
Here’s a recap of some of their tips to help get you started. You can find the full list here.
Twitter is a communications platform that brings you closer to the things you care about.
At the heart of Twitter are small bursts of information called Tweets. Each Tweet is 140 characters long. You can also get links, see photos, videos, news stories and participate in conversations all directly in Tweets.
Remember Twitter is a public space
Most of the communication taking place on Twitter is public and viewable by everyone. Since the information posted is public, some of this data may be made available or republished on other websites. While Tweets can be protected so only approved followers can see them, most users share their Tweets with everyone. If your child wants their Tweets to only be available to approved followers, they can protect their Tweets. Please keep in mind that any Tweets posted before they were protected may be available in search or through third party sites.
Encourage critical thinking
Take the opportunity to not only learn about the sorts of situations your child is experiencing online but also use these to identify solutions and encourage critical thinking. Ask them questions like:
- Who are you sharing this information with?
- Can you trust all the people that see the information on your profile?
- How could your Tweet be interpreted?
Think before Tweeting
As parents, you may have seen children say or write things that were not meant to be hurtful but that others found offensive or upsetting. Help your child evaluate whether or not something is okay to post by reminding them that if they wouldn't say it to the person's face or out loud, they shouldn't say it online either.
The nature of the Internet makes it difficult to completely erase content. Consider having a conversation about how what gets posted online can hurt feelings, affect offline relationships and even jeopardize future opportunities.
Block and ignore
If your child receives offensive tweets from another Twitter user, it is generally recommended that he or she block that user and end communication. Ignoring the content shows unwillingness to engage in such interaction, and in most cases, the aggressor loses interest. Blocking the user will empower your child by preventing the blocked user from following them. Twitter will investigate every report received, but if something has gone beyond the point of a personal conflict and has turned into a credible threat, whether it be online or offline, you should contact your local authorities as they are in the best position to assess the threat and intervene or assist as necessary.
Tagged as: digital privacy, mobile monitoring, parenting tips, Twitter