Are Your Children Tweeting? – Its Fun but It Also Pays To Play Safe on Twitter

OK, let’s face it- I like talking. Perhaps a little too much but never ‘garrulous’ (as some mean spirits would say!) But I also love listening to people talking about themselves, their experiences, their discoveries, and their realizations. But what I like most is a good debate/discussion on all topics under the sun. And where else will you have such a wonderful heterogeneous mix of friends to talk or argue with than on Twitter?

Twitter, which came into existence barely six years ago, has taken the Internet community by storm. Today the micro-blogging site has over 500 million active users, yours truly being one of those addicts who feels restless if a day goes by without tweeting! I love the fact that there’s so much to discover every day, to discuss, to share- no wonder Twitter generates over 340 million tweets daily!

You know the fun parts of Twitter?

  • Post length can’t exceed 140 characters (We are spared from the attacks of the verbose!)
  • You get to meet like-minded people whom you would have otherwise never known
  • You can offer links to your blogs and get wider audience this way for your business, activities
  • It is a more personal way to interact, form groups, keep in touch with friends
  • Journalists, businesses, politicians use it widely and you can get to connect with them as well
  • Twitter is behind many of the recent social uprisings

So as long as you use the site wisely and responsibly, it offers a window to the world. Now the thing to know is what additional facts should parents know before they allow their kids to go on Twitter:

  • Twitter’s policy clearly states that its services are ‘not directed to persons under 13’. However, the site does not take any serious steps to enforce this limit
  • Whatever is posted under public settings becomes accessible to all, including direct message (dm). Even people you don’t follow can read your public posts

The red flags:

  • Twitter messages are public; and you can’t take back your words, even if you delete them
  • Twitter collects data about you and shares it with third parties
  • If the company is ever sold, this information can be sold off as an asset
  • Advertisers can target users based on their history of their tweets
  • The number of trolls is on the rise and they can prove to be really troublesome
  • There is no need to seek pre-approval or permission to share any users’ posts. So what you might intend for some to read may go viral, with sometimes unpleasant consequences
  • Spammers are already at work. They  spam accounts to direct higher traffic to their websites
  • Young people are at a high risk of being influenced by “online groomers
  • Hashtagged comments may backfire as trolls or mischief makers may bend them to suit their ends
  • Kids take their beefs (virtual arguments and fights) to the real world, and then it gets ugly

The dangers themselves suggest the remedies and precautions. Kids should play it safe and befriend only a limited few. Moreover, they should make their profiles “by request only”, so that they can choose who they want to interact with. Also educate them on how to identify, avoid and block trolls and abusive people.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that people on Twitter air their personal views and often exaggerate. So kids should under no circumstances believe all that they read.

And remember to keep your security software installed and upgraded. Every time I check out suggested link and my McAfee Total Protection stops me with a bright “WHOA! Do you really want to go there?” message. I am thankful and feel so very secure. Try it, its liberating J

Happy Tweeting, Tweeps…cheep, cheep!!!

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Story added 17. September 2012, content source with full text you can find at link above.