It's every celebrity's nightmare -- the invasion of privacy, once relegated to lunch date stalking and beach-lurking paparazzi, has now breached an even more private realm. Yes, I'm talking about Jennifer Lawrence, et al and the nude photos of other young female celebrities that were recently splashed all over the Internet, prompting discussions of mobile data security, feminism, and sexual crime.
CelebGate and Cyber-Security
"Celebgate" also brings up the prevalence of the "selfie" in a youth culture where taking pictures of yourself, whether suggestive or otherwise, happens without a second thought. Many selfies are provocative if only for the fact that they exist to impress or somehow positively influence the viewer in a way that may or may not be sexual.
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The celebrity photo hack shows that due to the improvements in technology and the recent hike in smartphone usage, individuals can be compromised more than ever before. Chances are your teenager has a smartphone that they use to call you with their whereabouts, find directions when they get lost, and...take selfies.
Clearly, selfies are a phenomenon that everyone, even celebrities, indulges in. But that doesn't mean that people shouldn't exercise a little, no make that a lot, of caution -- especially since teens are the biggest selfie-takers out there.
Teenagers communicate in ways that mostly involve pictures, from Facebook updates, to Twitter posts, to Snapchat messages. It's important that you and they are both aware of the ease with which a seemingly harmless not-safe-for-work-or-school image can be spread around and become a very regrettable incident. All it takes is one person forwarding a single photo to everyone in their contact list -- and that's just the instance where your kid has actually sent a selfie to a friend or contact.
It's important to take precautions with mobile data, and understanding the options with security parameters is a great place to start. In the case of Celebgate 2014, many of the women had automatic backup to iCloud servers. This option can be deselected easily under the settings icon on your Apple products; furthermore you should educate your child on the importance of using an automatic phone lock as well as difficult passwords containing punctuation and numbers.
Be Your Self(ie)
Not only are there technological options for protecting personal data, there's also a good deal of debate surrounding the selfie trend for teens, who are most likely out of any demographic to indulge in the practice. Selfies may be linked to insecurity and self-image issues for snap-happy youngsters looking for validation. According to the infographic below, about a quarter of selfies are meant to be sexy, while over a third of people regret sending sexy or flirtatious photos.
The temptation is there, the method is available, and these are teenagers we're talking about. They are known for not always making the best choices. Chances are your kids have succumbed to the selfie trend, so keep them safe by having an open and non-judgmental dialogue about the dangers of sharing risqué photos -- and, unfortunately, the perils of even taking such images with your phone.
Selfies aren't all bad, and they're not going away anytime soon. Check out the infographic below to find out more about how the photo craze may be affecting your child.
Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. With two children of her own, she hopes to help other parents keep their children safe and healthy.