I am reading an article in Animal Político, an online political newspaper from Mexico, regarding the overwhelming number of Mexican teenagers who are posting photos of themselves in ”provocative poses” on the Internet and it is quite literally sending chills up my spine…

It is really worrying, and despite the fact that the information refers to Mexico, in today’s globalized world I am pretty sure that the same can be said about almost any technologically advanced country. Here are some of those shocking facts:

  1. One in three teens (ages 12-18) says they have posted photos of themselves in “provocative poses” on the Internet.
  2. In Mexico, there are some 10 million regular Internet users between those ages, so the number of teenagers who have posted “sexy pictures” of themselves amounts to 3.6 million (36 percent).
  3. Of those, 45 percent have their computer in their room and 30 percent post personal data such as their address, phone number, school name and family photos; Additionally, 43 percent of those young people do not consider it dangerous to go out on a date with someone they met online.

Wait a second… 43 percent of kids do not consider it dangerous to go out on a date with someone they met online? 43 out of every 100 children think it is normal?

Well, this data is the result of a study conducted by a Federal Institute, so there is no reason to doubt the veracity of the information. Having said that, I think it is time to ask ourselves: What are we doing wrong for kids still not to perceive how extremely dangerous that behavior is? Why are they not capable of understanding that the Internet is like a big city, with cinemas, theaters, shops, libraries, etc. but also dangerous areas, criminals and people with bad intentions?

Many schools encourage kids to be aware of the dangers online and work on educational projects where the kids themselves can come up with security tips . We think this is the way to go, so, as a reminder, here goes a collection of general tips.

What advice would you give someone your age (13 to 15 years old) to use the Internet safely?

  1. Be careful with what pictures you post and never upload compromising pictures of yourself.
  2. Cover up your webcam. You never know who is on the other side.
  3. Contact an adult if you run into trouble.
  4. Use strong passwords, protect them and change them from time to time.
  5. Be wary of the strangers you meet on the Internet. Be careful about adding unknown people  to your contacts list.

Finally, I’d like to recommend a website to visit with your children: Cybersmart, an portal created by the Australian government to raise awareness amongst teenagers to understand the need to protect their data on the Internet in simple and entertaining ways.