The good folks over at eModeration have impressed me once again with their amazing insight into what it takes to successfully moderate communities populated with teens and tweens. In their latest white paper, How to Moderate Teens and Tweens, author and company CEO Tamara Littleton reviews some of the  common online behaviors of our youth that could lead danger right to their doorstep.

Much of the information was new to me, as my experience has largely been with moderating and managing adult online communities.

As a community professional I was surprised to learn some of what I’d never considered but as a parent I was  grateful for the information which has certainly given me a heads up on what to discuss with my daughters about online activity and what I should look for when considering which communities they are allowed to access.

Here is an excerpt:

“In our experience of moderating online environment for tweens and teens we find that tweens in particular are more likely to give up personal information about themselves online. This is the single biggest problem for moderators.”

Such personal information, according to eModeration,  could include phone numbers and street names and with teens, is often conveyed using clever wording or clues in an effort to fly underneath the radar. When filters are present, teens get creative and might type something like this: “My number is Too Tree Tree Ate On Fort Hive Steven.”

Alarmed yet? Wait, there’s more. This comment was taken directly from a large children’s brand:

“your my hero as i have no dad. i’m your biggest fan. please call me. my number is (XXX-XXXX)

Here’s another eye-opening excerpt, which the report says includes the jigsaw pieces of which could be enough to identify and befriend a child for a predator:

“My name is Louise and I love your shows! Are you coming to Iowa anytime soon for a show? I love to play soccer. I play number 11. and I know your favourite animal is a lion which is my school mascot.”

Here’s why this should cause concern. Consider this: If there is one middle school in Iowa with a school mascot of a lion, one could find the school, go to a soccer practice and see the young girl wearing a shirt with number 11.

I don’t know about you but that pretty much raises my spider senses to a new level. This is an excellent  whitepaper filled with highly valuable information and is definitely worth your time.

If you’re a community professional this is a topic on which you should become knowledgeable.   If you’re a parent, this is information you can’t afford to be without.

Kudos to eModeration for continuing to provide safe online environments for kids and keeping us all in the loop on their findings.

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