The secret language of adolescents in social networks
Internet and the social networks they have become a refuge for many teenagers. Through these means, they communicate and express their true selves. It is normal that, as parents, we worry about the online activity of our children and we want to know what they publish, but Many times teenagers use codes that we can not understand.
Adolescents want to have freedom and, today, that freedom is achieved many times through the secret language of adolescents in social networks, which allow young people to communicate almost without barriers. And, like all, our children fear losing this freedom when they realize that parents want to be aware of what happens in their profiles on social networks.
For this reason, teenagers have developed several techniques and codes to avoid their parents in social networks. It is important to know this language to ensure the safety of our children, but at the same time, respect their freedom to maintain a relationship of trust with them.
More than one profile have teenagers on social networks
One of the techniques most used by teenagers to avoid parents on social networks like Instagram is create two profiles. One of them will be destined to the family environment, by having images and other publications "apt" to be visualized by the parents. These profiles are usually of a private nature. This means that only followers accepted by teens can observe the contents of the profile.
The other profile is intended for friends and acquaintances and it is usually public, since it is a way to get followers, something that teenagers aspire to. As parents often ignore the existence of another profile, young people feel free to publish about their love lives, parties, etc.
In other occasions, adolescents have a single profile on social networks, but they configure it in such a way that certain publications, such as InstaStories, can not be seen by parents.
The world of emoticons: essential for teenagers
Emoticons are an essential part of the language of adolescents. Beyond their obvious meanings, such as a smile or an angry face, these can be used as codes and reveal a lot of information about young people's lives.
The emoticons that are placed in the biography of Instagram, for example, can reveal the belonging to a gang or group of friends, their pseudonyms or even the staff in which they have a love interest. For example, if your child has an emoticon of a tiger or turtle in his biography, this may mean that he belongs to a group in which all his members use this emoticon to identify themselves.
This can be dangerous, because it is easily accessible information. In addition to us as parents, other people can decipher these codes and pose as another member of the gang to hurt our children. It is not necessary to fall into paranoia in these cases, but to make adolescents aware of the information they share and who they share it with.
Anonymity in the form of false profiles in social networks
One of the great features of the Internet is anonymity. It is very easy to create false profiles on social networks and use them to do cyberbullying. There are also certain applications like ThisCrush, which make anonymity possible.
This application, originally designed to make amorous statements anonymously, is used by many young people to bully or criticize people, friends or colleagues without identifying. To use it, the boys share a link to this application in their Instagram bio and ask their followers a question through the InstaStories. Anyone who has access to the link can answer the questions or make comments anonymously.
We can not completely limit the activity of our children on the Internet or social networks, as they are tools that are part of our current day to day. However, as parents, we must know the language used in these media by teenagers and ensure proper use of these platforms. For this, it is important that we communicate to young people the value of the information that is shared and the value of the social networks themselves.
First, we must lead by example and avoid excessive use of our phones when we share time with our children. Also, we must motivate them to carry out social activities that move away from the interaction in social networks. If our children spend more time doing sports, playing outdoors and making friends in person, it is more likely that they will not feel so dependent on online platforms.
Isabel López Vásquez
Advice: Panda Security