Teens talk candidly about social media

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Updated: 11/15/2012 9:24 am Published: 11/14/2012 8:22 pm

Teens are some of the most habitual users of social media, but often times their parents have limited understanding of the technologies they are using to keep in almost constant contact with their friends.

FOX23 Social Media and Technology Reporter Adam Paluka sat down with a group of local teens earlier this month for a candid conversation about their social media habits.

“You feel really involved, you know what everybody else is doing,” Andrea, a 16 year-old, told FOX23 about her social media use.

No questions were off limits during Adam’s interview. FOX23 wanted straight answers about how they use social media and how careful they are when they use it.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that 72 percent of teens have a social networking profile and nearly half have a public profile viewable by anyone.

“(My parents don’t know) that much. My parents don't know anything about social media,” Andrea said.

That means mom and dad may not know how vulnerable their kids are. When it comes to privacy and security settings, the teens believed they keep their Facebook locked down, but when it comes to Twitter, it was a different story.

“Mine's all open, cause I don't have anything bad to show,” Michael told FOX23.

For Sarah, her Twitter profile said enough to give anyone a good idea about where she lives, and what she does with her time, and who her friends are.

“Knowing how much information they can get from knowing so little, that scares me, like that I play volleyball and I live in Coweta,” Sarah said.

Twitter does allow users to protect their tweets, meaning you have to give everyone permission before they're able to see what you're tweeting. None of the students had enabled that feature.

On the students Facebook profiles it was more of the same: oversharing and under protecting their personal info like birthdays, where they lived, even where they worked.

According to the Pew Report, the average American teen has 201 friends on Facebook, and unless a user has the tightest security settings, each users profile is viewable by thousands of people who have a common friend with the teen.

FOX23’s quick detective work was enough to teach the kids a valuable lesson.

“Don't post personal like where you're at, what you're doing, who your with,” Sarah said.

“I am going to make sure people can't see my tweets,” Andrea said.

The National Cyber Security Alliance says 15% of Americans have never checked their social networking privacy and security account settings, and for teens the number is probably much higher.

In their own words the conversation with FOX23 was “eye opening” and “jaw dropping” for these teens.

On Thursday, Part Two of Adam’s special report will air on FOX23 News at 9:00. He will talk with a mom who’s concerned about what her daughter’s social media habits and local author and social media expert Melanie Nelson about her advice for parents when it comes to checking-in on their teen’s social media profiles.

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