Recently, my nephew, age 12, received a letter in the mail. It was addressed to him personally, by name. Inside was a photocopied article about the powers of a new virility medicine, complete with the usual graphic promises for pleasuring the ladies. The article mentioned a specific “doctor” by name, but other than that, there was no contact information or order form or any other action request. It appeared to just be spam but in paper form.

I work from home, and I think that means my kids get more sick days than the average student. It’s pretty easy for them to convince me that they need a day of rest if they have a bit of a cough or a slight fever. I admit I’m probably too easily swayed and I do tend to cave in when they look up at me with big sad eyes from where they have swooned onto the couch.

My three kids all know the password to my phone.

It’s because I rely on them to play secretary for me when I’m driving. If the phone rings or there is a bing of a text, 99% of the time it’s a member of my immediate family trying to get in touch with something relatively pressing.

My teens are still young and new to social media, so until now, we’ve mostly been focusing on the risks. Our main message to them has been to be careful, and that less time online is always better.

When we bought a cellphone for our son, we worried. We worried about how it would affect his brain to be hooked into social media all the time. We worried about online bullying and if he’d be respectful and responsible. We worried that he’d become a video screen monster who never looked up and only grunted in response to our questions about his day at the dinner table.

We have a few smartphone rules in our house: no phones after 9:30 p.m., no phones at the dinner table or other family events, and no phones in bedrooms.

As a kid, did you ever hide a flashlight under your pillow? Then pull it out after you were supposed to be asleep, so you could sneak in another half-hour of reading?

I did that. A lot.

Few issues capture our anxiety about young people and digital media so perfectly as sexting. As with technologies at least as far back as the telegraph, much of this anxiety has focused specifically on girls and women.

Help! Someone shared a photo of me without my consent! – Tip Sheet

  1. You can start by asking the person who shared it to take it down or stop sharing it. Kids report that this works more often than not!
  2. Ask the service or platform where it was shared to take it down. If you’re under 18, they may be required by law to take it down, and most also have a policy of taking down any photos that were shared without the subject’s permission.

Building on MediaSmarts’ findings on youth and privacy from our Young Canadians in a Wired World research, our new qualitative study, To Share or Not to Share: How Teens Make Privacy Decisions about Photos on Social Media examines the reasoning that teens apply when sharing photos online.

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