Experts spread caution during Cyber Safety Awareness Month
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CHARLOTTE--Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are used by many teenagers nearly every day, but many parents aren't exactly sure what pictures or posts from their child are publicly available online.
And with the advancement in technology so that people can access websites anytime from anywhere, teenagers are always communicating with their friends.
"She's very into Facebook, text messages, she sends 9,000 text messages a month on average. Social media is a big part of how people her age communicate,” said parent Adam Hawthorne.
October is Cyber Safety Awareness month, but it's a subject Hawthorne and his wife regularly talk about with their 15-year-old.
"There are some safeguards you can take to help keep that information more private, but the bottom line is if you're willing to put it on the internet, you better be wiling to live with it for the rest of your life,” said Hawthorne.
Nick Pili is a consultant with the reputation management company VRM. He said many people don't realize that even if you post something and take it down even seconds later, the damage could already be done.
"Somebody can right click that photo, somebody can right click, copy and paste that tweet and that post and copy it to people outside of your network,” said Pili.
Pili's said his company was approached by some of their clients who have children who wanted to understand what their kids are up to online. They started a program called "Social Snapshots," where members of a research team will search the child's name and profiles to see what's publicly available.
"All we're trying to look at it is from a casual perspective, what is it that a potential employer might see? What is it a college assessor might see? And we try to provide that overall picture for the parent,” said Pili.
He said they're not hacking into the children's profiles or private lives, but allowing parents to see what's already public, to help educate both groups about being safe and secure online.
"It's an education that just be aware of what you put online. It could come back to haunt you later on,” said Pili.
Pili said some good tips for social media use include frequently changing passwords and making sure you never leave a social media site logged on when you leave a computer.
He also recommended to never friending someone you don't know personally and making sure whatever you post, would be something you'd be okay with your grandma seeing.