Online Safety Series – Safe Social Networking for you and your teenager

by Rebecca Moonen

At iiNet, we know a lot about the Internet. We celebrate how great it is all the time, however, we’re also mindful of the safety and security risks that can arise when wheeling and dealing online. To help you become cyber savvy, we’ve launched the iiNet Online Safety Series. Each month, we’ll release a bunch of handy tips, ideas and advice for you to learn and share. For more details on our latest initiative check out our new Online Safety webpage. To kick off the series, we’ve put together a guide to Safe Social Networking for you and your teenager.

Teens primarily use social networking for self expression with real world friends – socialising almost exclusively with people they know. Statistics show that the likelihood of a young person being harmed by a cyber criminal is quite rare as opposed to the risks of them being harmed by their peers, or suffering the consequences of their own online behaviour.

These safety pointers for your teen don’t focus on the old “stranger danger” warning, but instead the more realistic concern about posting content that could come back to bite them with school authorities and future employers.

Delete delete delete!
Sometimes in the heat of an argument or simply without thinking, you’ll post something that you wish you hadn’t. Some people might pressure you to reveal stuff that makes you feel uncomfortable like disclosing your home address, sending a risqué picture, or being nasty to someone from your school. Remember that you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do (even if you’ve done it before), so stick with your gut feeling and just say no. Have a scan of your profile and remove any information that might put you at risk if it falls into the wrong hands. Delete any unwanted wall posts from your friends that might be inappropriate and consider un-friending them if it happens all the time.

Tweak your settings!
Keep your private stuff private- it’s only your business. If you’ve got personal information and pics on Facebook then visit Account -> Privacy Settings -> Sharing on Facebook -> “Friends only.” While you’re at it- check the security of your photo albums, remembering that each one has its own privacy setting. Delete anyone that’s not your friend in real life (they could be a creep or a crim) and do a spring clean of people that you never interact with (if they don’t bother talking to you, why should you share all your stuff with them?).

Stop, Block and Tell!
If you see something that you wish you hadn’t, you can report it to Facebook. If you think you might need it later- save or print it out (with the time and date.) If it’s an inappropriate photo you can click “Report this photo.” If it’s a person with a fake or offensive profile, visit their page and click on “Report/Block This Person.” If it’s a hostile post then try your hardest not to reply- you’ll only encourage a response. Delete the message and consider using the “Report this message and block sender” option.

Preview your profile! Have a look at how your profile appears to others to suss out if there is anything further you’d like to lock down. Visit Account -> Privacy settings -> View settings -> Preview my profile. You’ll find out what info might be unknowingly public. Get a trusted adult to do the same – it’s great to get a second opinion.

Only oldies lie about their age! Make sure you’re registered as an underage user  as you get extra privacy settings that can make your life safer. Restrictions include that only your friends will see if you’re ‘checked in’ somewhere, and your name won’t be listed on an establishments ‘here now’ page by people you don’t know.

Until next month, stay safe people.


  1. Jack Cola says:

    I have written a number of articles about Facebook Privacy, how to protect yourself, and delete your account that’s well worth a read for those who want detailed instructions on how they can protect themselves on Facebook. Check out the below links:

    Should You Let Your Future Employer Look At Your Facebook Profile?

    How To Protect Yourself Online While Using Facebook, Gmail, And Other Websites

    How To Delete And Start Your Facebook From Scratch

    How I Protect My Personal and Online Identity

    How To Permanently Block A Stalker On Facebook

    How To Delete and Deactivate Your Facebook Account

    Facebook New Privacy Options Suck! – Your Privacy Is Now Gone

  2. I can tell you with absolute certainty, that you may as well burn your money in a voodoo traffic pyre while chanting “Alexa” over and over. Maybe that will work.