Considerations for youth and social networking – Part 4: Sharing photos

Helping youth make decisions about photos they share online.

According to a 2015 Pew Research, 92 percent of teenagers 13-17 years old report going online daily and 71 percent are using at least one social networking site. With this high usage of social networking and teenagers going online, there are many factors adults should consider when helping youth navigate their usage of social networking sites. This article specifically looks at helping youth with the photos they share online. Adults need to help youth understand the different outcomes of sharing a photo online and to others.

Youth should consider the following two major factors.

Disappearing doesn’t mean gone forever. With youth using disappearing apps like Snapchat, they need to understand that photo isn’t necessarily gone. Once a youth sends the photo to another person, that person can easily share the photo with others. One should never assume your content is 100 percent safe from other people taking the information and sharing with someone else.

Youth could lose out on opportunities. The pictures one chooses to share online help paint a picture for others to make judgements about that youth. Potential jobs, college admission officers, scholarship selection committees, etc. could possibly see the photos that are being shared online. That could mean a youth may miss out on a job, scholarship or another opportunity.

To help adults educate youth about taking time to consider the outcomes of sharing photos online, Michigan State University Extension has some questions parents or other adults should share with youth:

  • Who might be able to see the photo?
  • Is there anyone else in this photo? (Some people may not be comfortable with a photo being shared.)
  • Will this photo offend anyone?
  • Are you comfortable with others seeing this photo, including people who didn’t directly receive the photo from you?
  • Are there any identifying details in the photo (location, name, contact information)?

Youth enjoy sharing photos through social media tools, so it is extremely important to help them understand what they share online can be seen by others, even if that wasn’t the original intent. Adults should help youth understand that every picture that is shared with others paints a picture of that youth. Others can use this information to make assumptions about the youth or even locate a youth.

Technology changes, apps come and go, and the next wave in social media platforms will come about, but that doesn’t change the guidelines youth should consider around the photos they are sharing. Adults should continually be reminding youth they need to take a few moments to think before sharing a photo.

Check out this previous articles in this series below, and watch for future articles that will continue to explore different areas of sharing information on social networks.

Other articles in series

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