In my program on social media, “Not of the World,” I put on a Mardi Gras mask.
I proceed to talk to my audience as if they don’t know who I am. If I were to use bad language or hit someone or steal something from someone in the audience, I would get away with it because no one would know who did it. If no one knows it is me, I don’t have to worry about any consequences to my behavior.
This is absurd because even though I wear a mask, everyone knows it is me.
Teenagers are especially attracted to privacy, independence, and not being supervised. That makes them especially vulnerable to the risks of phony privacy. The “responsibility” and “consequences” part of the brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-twenties. I am sure you have heard a teenager say, “It won’t happen to me.”
Adding phony privacy to a teenage brain is like throwing gas on firewood; all you need is a match for a huge fire.
The match is some of the most popular apps to teenagers.
It started with Snapchat that promises to erase any picture a short time after you send it to someone.
Burn Note makes that promise with texting.
Whisper and Secret-Speak Freely are places where you can post whatever you want anonymously: vent, confess, share intimate fantasies or anything else as long as there are no identifiable names or information.
Omegle is a chat room for anonymous instant messaging with a stranger.
Watch for and deny access to these apps with your teenagers.
As I do in “Not of the World,” we have to constantly make the following loud and clear:
Social media, the internet, and texting
ARE NOT PRIVATE!
(McIlhaney, Jr., J. S., & Bush, F. M. (2008). Hooked. Chicago: Northfield Publishing.)
(Schryver, K. (2014, March 26). Trend Alert: 6 Messaging Apps That Let Teens Share (Iffy) Secrets. Retrieved from Common Sense Media Making Sense Blog: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/trend-alert-6-messaging-apps-that-let-teens-share-iffy-secrets)