Your Social Media Presence as a Teenager

What teenagers post online can have consequences, but it doesn’t have to

Grace Newby, Staff Writer

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Most teenagers are involved in social media, but every comment, like, or picture they post could have an affect on how colleges and future employers see them.

In the age of the internet and social media, students tend to spend a lot of time tweeting, instagramming, and/or snapchatting. It seems that no matter how much they are warned to mind their posts, teens often neglect to consider the consequences of representing themselves badly online.

The Pew Research Center reports that 92% of teenagers post their real names on social media, meaning that when a college wants to view these potential students’ profiles, all they have to do is search the name given on the application -and they probably will. Kaplan Test Prep records that in 2010, 88% of college admissions counselors used Facebook to recruit students.

Students seem to know the risk. Senior Katie Raynor says, “My parents always tell me to be careful of what I put online because everyone can see it… People will always look you up on Instagram or Facebook and like stalk you before they even know you; so it’s kind of an introduction to you.”

Senior Karina Bridgman agrees with Raynor.

Bridgman says, “More and more people are using social media; so it is a good way for companies and colleges to try and get to know who a person really is since people tend to post what they really think online.”

Students seem to know the reality of social media, yet accounts like “finstas” (short for “fake instagram”) remain a popular trend. These fake accounts are private, anonymous second Instagram accounts students make separate from their public accounts which tend to be followed by adults and attached to the teen’s real name.

The finstas do not have the teenager’s name, instead using a goofy nickname or alias that would not come up when their name is searched. These are where teen’s post things that are inappropriate or mean -the posts they know not to have attached to their names.

Teenagers think these accounts are safe from scrutiny and the public, but Instagram’s privacy policy is constantly evolving and changing and everything posted online is permanent. Even the email linked to the account can be traced back to someone, even if the username isn’t trackable. Meaning it’s possible some day employers or colleges could see the content presented on these finstas, even if the posters name isn’t outwardly stated. Teenagers are warned against posting anything that will represent them badly for this very reason.

Bridgman adds, “All these warnings [are] given to teenagers because inappropriate images can hurt one’s later life if they were young and stupid… it will hurt them in their adult lives.”

There are risks to being a teenager on social media, but these only matter if one is irresponsible and does not consider the consequences of their posts. If high schoolers are smart and reasonable about how they present themselves online, they should have no reason to worry. This means avoiding the idea of a finsta and posting things they will not regret.

The website WebWise also recommends that teens have an awareness of who can access their personal information online. They should post with this thought in mind, ‘Would I want my grandparents to see this?’

Raynor advises,“Just don’t be offensive; be yourself and have fun [with social media], but be mindful of the impact of each post.”

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