As I prepared for this week's post, my daughter gave me the following essay (along with her permission to publish it here). So, this week, I'll just get out of the way and let her have this post and my gratitude for her wisdom.
Facebook: the bible of my generation. We teenagers live by it. We breathe it. Sadly, sometimes we think it is just a website on our computer that no one else can see. Unfortunately, it isn't, and everyone can see everything. Whenever I hear kids say, “Well of course my parents don’t have my Facebook password! That stuff is private!” I think is it really? Lets zoom in on that word “private.” The definition of private is “Belonging to or for the use of one particular person or group of people only.” But with Facebook, nothing is private. Whether it’s liking a photo or commenting on a status, the whole world can watch you.
This also applies to cell phone usage. Yes, I myself have a phone and sometimes I want to talk to my friend about someone I like, but the thing is you can’t. Before you send a text message you have to think, “Would I be OK with everyone seeing this?” Would I like everyone to know that I “hate school?” My employers? My college professors? The answer it no. So think before you post.
On Facebook, there are many sites you will see that you can “Like.” At first I thought nothing was wrong with it. I simply just thought that it was a fun thing to do to pass the time. Sadly, it is not just a fun thing you can do; it is dangerous. For example, once I liked this page and I played a little game that went with it. When doing this, I let that website have control over my account. This is called “phishing.” The website was able to post things on my wall that I did not write myself. Phishing is used to reel in information from people and get their personal information that can result in identity theft.
Another topic with people on Facebook or cellphones is that you never know who they really are. For all I know, the person who I think is my best friend could be her brother or sister playing a prank on me.
Again thinking before you post is a crucial skill to learn when mastering social networking sites. Like anything else online, things can be copied and pasted. Like in court, anything you say could be used AGAINST you. If you were smart enough to realize this after you posted something and then decided to delete it, sadly it isn’t gone. Nothing on the internet is ever gone. Everything stays permanently.
Sometimes, to fit in with the crowd, people lie about themselves in order to be “popular” and such. This can also happen on the Facebook. I have seen many people cyberbully others in heated arguments on Facebook, when I know that isn’t really them (they’re much nicer in real life). They feel it is safer to get into an argument with people online because you are protected in your own home. However, these words are not just on the screen, they follow you into reality.
Some people say Facebook is dangerous. And yes, in some ways it is. Although, if you look at it from the angle of a teenager you will see that it is about creativity and discovery. Most of my generation wants to use this tool wisely, to expand our horizons. Facebook can be used in an irresponsible way, but if it is used appropriately, it is a door to opportunity.