Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Google Tutors Teen Safety

For about six months, YouTube's SafteyCenter channel has been airing videos purposed to inform users on using the Internet, and how to remain safe. While the channel has been publishing for half a year, the recent Buzz fiasco (and the new SafetyCenter video associated with it) deserves a shout out. The latest video is Buzz Teen Safety Tips, emphasizing the effect of the privacy crisis on teens. Unfortunately, not much is done to ensure teens remain safe on the Internet, and Google's informative videos should be more common than on just one YouTube channel.

Teens are especially vulnerable to the depths of the Internet because they are not as socially aware of their responsibilities in society. So while they may see the short-term importance of their actions within their own social circle, they may not see the long-term effects of what they say. Also to be noted is that teens are on their way to being admitted to college, a process known to consider everything a teen has ever said (though admittedly many colleges are letting up on the social networking ideal). All in all, maintaining the proper level of privacy and saying the right things online is especially important in the teen years. (This is enhanced when the entire Internet child predator situation is taken into account.)

I have learned in my business class that businesses are subject to a number of ethical questions and social responsibilities. Starbucks, for instance, though criticized for the poverty amongst coffee bean farmers, have always noted their contributions to society, especially in that of making themselves more environmentally compatible. Just like Starbucks, Google holds a responsibility for ensuring their users well-being, especially when it concerns teens and their weaknesses in social networking. (The same applies for Facebook, but from the social networking site's recent privacy changes, it seems they care more about profits than their users' privacy.) A movement has been spreading that privacy is a thing of the past, and if you have something to hide, you should probably not say it. Regardless of whether this is true or not, users should be informed as to the consequences of saying things online.

The SafetyCenter YouTube channel is a perfect example of what a company can do to try and inform its users, or at least its younger users, how to regulate their privacy setting and, in situations where what you say is public, what not to say on the Internet. Unfortunately, a YouTube channel is not enough, and Google (as well as Facebook) should be doing more to ensure the safety of its teenage users (me being one of them). Any ideas on what they can do?

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