Talk to your teen about Twitter.
The Internet is a great resource, but it’s important for your teen to be aware of the challenges and issues that can occur online. As parents or guardians, you may be wondering, “What is Twitter?” or “What do I need to know to help keep my teen safe online?”
We’ve compiled some tips for you to share with your teen about different issues or situations they may encounter online. Not a parent or guardian? Check out our Tips for Educators or Tips for Teens for more information.
Twitter is a global social broadcast network that enables people and organizations to publicly share brief messages instantly around the world. The service can be accessed on the web at twitter.com, on a wide variety of mobile devices, and via text messaging. Available in more than 35 languages, Twitter has hundreds of millions of active users. Read this introduction to Twitter or follow @twitter for more information.
Most of the communication taking place on Twitter is viewable by everyone. Since the information posted is public, it can be Retweeted (or reposted) by anyone who sees it.
While Tweets can be protected so that only approved followers can see them, most users share their Tweets with everyone. If your teen wants their Tweets to only be available to approved followers, they can protect their Tweets.
Explain to your teen that passwords should never be shared — not even with their friends. If the computer they use is shared, remind them to always log out when they finish their Twitter session to develop good online safety habits. It’s important to log out of any websites they’ve logged into on a shared computer. Otherwise, other people may be able to access their information.
Teens may be reluctant to discuss relationships — including ones online, which may make them feel awkward and embarrassed. Take the opportunity to learn about the sorts of information your teen consumes online, as well as the kind of content they’re creating. Ask them questions like:
- With whom are you sharing your content?
- Can you trust all the people who see the information on your Twitter account?
- How might your Tweets be interpreted?
- How do your Tweets fit into the broader conversation?
Parents should also ask their teens about their approach to creating and sharing content on social media platforms. Teens should see their interactions online as part of a broader context. They should, for instance, consider everyone who can view their content, and the ways in which that content could be misinterpreted, misrepresented, or reposted without their knowledge or consent.
Knowing how to assess information available on the Internet thoughtfully isn’t a given. Some teens may struggle to distinguish various kinds of content or assess them appropriately. This can spill over onto Twitter, so knowing how to locate and identify different kinds of content may prevent misunderstandings and defuse conflicts. Moreover, it helps teens learn how to evaluate information with a critical eye rather than accept it outright.
Know what to do if you need help.
BLOCK AND IGNORE
If your teen receives unwanted Tweets from another Twitter user, we generally recommend they block that user and end communication. Ignoring the content shows unwillingness to engage in such interaction, and in most cases, the aggressor loses interest. This article explains how to block other users.
SUBMIT A REPORT
If a situation seems as though it’s escalating, encourage your teen to file a report through our forms. As a parent, you can also submit a report to Twitter on behalf of your teen. Parents and other legal representatives who choose to submit a report on their behalf must provide, at minimum, Tweet URLs, a thorough description of the situation, and basic information to verify their identity.
DISCUSS WITH OTHERS
There is increasing overlap between online and offline relationships, particularly for teens. Fights or bullying can easily shift from offline to online. If your teen experiences problems online, try to start a conversation about whether those same problems are happening offline. Talking with other parents, school administrators, and teachers about these experiences offers insight into common problems your teen may encounter while using social networks.