New technologies have turned all of us, and mostly young people, into publishers of information, pictures, videos: photos and videos can be taken at any time with a mobile phone, they can be sent to a list of contacts and uploaded on a blog or a social networking profile in a minute. Photos, once online, remain online and can be seen by anybody, even years after they have been posted.
The possibility of tagging people in pictures, offered by most social networking services, makes it very easy to search for a person's photos online . We can also manage our online identity in a way which may
turn us into "celebrities".
What's the problem?
New technologies give tremendous opportunities for creativity. Children and teenagers, who are major users of social networking sites and other new online services, use them to express their identity. But, at the same time, children and young people are in the process of developing their personality and may be particularly vulnerable to gossip and bullying.
Young people do not always realize that the personal information they post remains online and it can be accessed by anyone (including their parents, teachers, future employers, predators…). Many employers now check their job candidates online. Personal information contained in social networking profiles can be used by unscrupulous individuals for purposes which may include grooming.
Innocent pictures can easily be displayed in a completely different context, leading to embarrassment, or even bullying. Because of the digital nature of the photos, they can be cut, pasted, altered or distorted.
What can we do?
Children and teenagers need to be empowered to manage their online identity, including publishing of pictures and videos, in a responsible way. Children and teenagers should be made aware that they can control their online identity, by using the privacy settings offered by social networking services, selecting friends online that they can trust, publishing their own photos after thinking carefully about the potential consequences, and pictures of their friends with their permission.
For resources and activities to support SID 10 click here