Still have questions?

Join Common Sense Media Plus for timely advice from a community of parents like you.

Join now

Back to topic overview

Facebook, Instagram, and Social

How can I explain why teens shouldn't create fake profiles to tease their friends and/or peers?

Kids might be tempted to do this as a prank, without realizing the implications. But thinking through the consequences of one's online actions is an important part of digital citizenship -- and a great thing to talk to your kids about as soon as they begin to connect online, create social media profiles, or even simply text with friends. A few things to ask:

  • How would you feel if someone used your name in a public forum without your permission?
  • What if you found out the person you thought you were talking to was someone else?
  • What if you were duped into helping someone because they impersonated a friend?
  • Can you ever be sure that something you think is funny will be funny to others?
  • Creating a fake profile violates companies' terms of service. Do you think that's a strong enough deterrent?
  • Are you aware that a handful of states actually have laws against online impersonation? Think about the circumstances that might call for legal punishment -- for example, the fake profile triggering depression in the target.