This is great news for marketers and app developers. Terrible news otherwise:
"With few restraints, teens are creating digital records that also shape their reputations offline. All the status updates, tweets and check-ins to specific locations can be reviewed by prospective employers, insurance companies and colleges... the opportunities to share information online are so frequent and routine that [teens] hardly even stop to think about them."
The WP article described a 13-year-old teen who regularly paid for and installed mobile device apps and games with a credit card number his parents had provided. In my opinion, that is poor decision-making by both parents and the teen. Parents who won't let their children go to the mall alone will let their children go anywhere online. That is a recipe for disaster, as the same bad people who frequent pulbic spaces also go online, too.
The article included an honest and disgusting comment from a retailer about the placement of online privacy policies and warnings:
"... if we were to present them with additional warnings, cautions and terms and conditions in a form that is impossible to ignore or misunderstand, it will end up ruining the experience that they paid for."
Really? That attitude emphasizes making money despite the consequences and damages. They are selling services to children and that attitude isn't just helpful. It's counter-productive.
Having raised three children, teens' sloppy online habits are no surprise. When my grown children were teens, I saw this with their their computer usage. They regularly used computers without anti-virus software. and shared game software install disks that were often infected with malware. No thoughts to safe computing.
Unfortunately, peer pressure often rules. Teens will rush to register for a new game or at website to fit in with their peer group. While rushing, risks are ignored and privacy not considered. Teens often have an attitude of invincibility; that bad things won't happen. And when those bad things do happen, a parent will save them.
It's important to remember that they are teenage children, not teenage adults. Just as teens need to be taught good money management, they need to be taught safe online habits:
- Learn how to read website privacy and terms-of-use policies
- Keep the anti-virus software on their computer current and active
- Use valid software and not stoeln copies
- Use strong passwords and passwords to never use online
- Don't disclose family personal information. I really liked how one of the parents in the WP article gave their teen a specific list of sensitive personal data items to never share online
- Learn how to recognize phishing e-mails, websites, and text messages
- Learn how to use search-engine websites while avoiding malware infected websites
- Don't allow online banking until after the teens become adults and master the above list of skills
- Learn how to do online banking safely
- Stop doing these 7 things on Facebook and other social networking sites