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An increasingly digitalized world threatens teens’ online security

By Tammy Newman Oct. 8, 2021

Inseo Kim Art

In society today, daily activities—ranging from communication and transportation to forms of entertainment—are in the hands of technology. According to a 2021 survey conducted by Forbes reporter Tommy Beer, the average teenager spends approximately 4.2 hours a day on social media. Advanced digital devices are a large part of youths’ lives, leaving them prone to unsafe places on the internet.

With users increasingly taking advantage of digital technology, privacy is compromised by the lack of knowledge for the sensitive information they are providing to digital platforms. A 2020 social experiment conducted by digital privacy group ProPrivacy found that 99% of participants skipped past the terms and conditions page, inadvertently agreeing to give the organization naming rights to their firstborn child, among other questionable provisions. Moreover, a Deloitte survey concluded that 91% of people agree to privacy policies without reading them, demonstrating that a majority of the public is unaware of what information they agree to provide online.

[Cyber] threats can exist everywhere, including search engines and social media platforms.

As the practice of protecting information systems from unauthorized access, cybersecurity can be compromised by digital attacks, including malicious software, social engineering or vulnerabilities in code. Due to the widespread availability of information, cyber threats can exist everywhere, including search engines and social media platforms. Digital media journalist Aliza Vigderman explains that Google stores user Internet Protocol addresses, data interactions between apps, purchases, crash reports and system activity. Additionally, Facebook keeps track of direct messages, contact information and stored photos and videos used within the app. There are also other dangers that come with social media use—such as losing important digital files or credit card information theft, leading many experts to encourage users to take cybersecurity measures.

Aside from large corporations, specific websites such as Omegle can also pose dangers for teens. According to Filterfree Parents, it has experienced a recent surge in teen activity due to TikTok trends, which puts more children at risk. British Broadcasting Company states that because the app is open to strangers without any background check, videos of violence, child pornography and other inappropriate content are common occurrences, and there is no way to make sure underage users do not view them. On top of explicit content, a study by Hacker News found that hacking Omegle and downloading user conversations requires very little technical knowledge, which is especially problematic as all private chats in Omegle are saved permanently by the website, cybersecurity expert Aimee O’Driscoll explains.

In general, social media platforms tend to undermine user privacy. People driven by malicious intent are ever-present on social media, which may lead to doxxing—people finding and publishing personal information about an individual without consent. Doxxing can include cyberbullying, which Verywell Family reports can increase the risk of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem in student victims.

Inseo Kim Art

Over time, websites and applications are incorporating safety features to protect the privacy of users. Omegle now offers a feature that allows users to type keywords like “clean” or “kid-friendly” to ensure they do not encounter 18+ content. On The Social Media Butterfly blog, Stefanie Marrone suggests that other ways to stay safe on the internet—especially throughout social media—are to keep accounts private or use a pseudonym. For doxxing specifically, cyber safety organization Family Zone describes how youths should consider who can see their posted content, avoid public WiFi hotspots and alter usernames and passwords.

“Understanding how we can keep our information private is the first step to being safe on the internet. Some measures students can take are only posting pictures of others with permission and keeping track of who is posting content related to themselves,” Sophomore Nikita Parakala said.

The new age of technology comes with several advantages for teens but simultaneously leaves them vulnerable to numerous privacy and security issues on the web. As a result, cybersecurity in the younger generation has become an increasingly important topic. While students may have to take extra precautionary measures, being mindful of their online activity allows them to enjoy the benefits of the internet and stay safe.


About the Contributors

Tammy Newman

Staff Writer

Tammy Newman is a junior at Leland High School and a Staff Writer for Journalism. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family as well as reading and writing.

Inseo Kim


Inseo Kim is a sophomore at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. She doodles and listens to music whenever she gets the chance. In her free time, she makes origami hearts and takes care of her marimos.

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