Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Your Kids At Risk: Social Media

Apparently, parents haven't gotten the word out enough to their children... or maybe parents just don't understand... or worse yet - maybe we haven't made this clear enough...

Parents talk to your kids about what they're posting online!

There are many reasons for this, but something like this is my primary concern...
  • Go to "the Goog" (Google)
  • Drop in this search paramter: "school schedule" -video
  • Gasp.
So you may ask yourself why it's a big deal that your child has posted their class schedule online, for the whole world to see... primarily because it is a great indicator of other dangerous behavior. If you have a child (or teenager) that's old enough to use a computer odds are they're either on MySpace, or Facebook... or both, and are posting their personal information without thinking twice.

The reason that things like class schedules, gathering locations, and other information is bad to the general public is that, as you already know, there are predators out there who are loving the fact that this information is easier to access than ever! Kids who post this information online think they're providing this to their friends, and generally have the "what harm can it possibly do?" attitude - but parents must change these habits through education and cooperative understanding.

I don't need to scare you into believing that children are abducted or attacked all the time based off of the information they post online, or even by the people they decide to meet in person (from online)... so here are some helpful things to keep in mind and go over with your online kid. Remember, safety is job #1.

Top 5 things you should never share online...
  1. Your full name, your parents, or your siblings names
  2. Specific home address, name of school
  3. Phone numbers, email address
  4. Specifics of your "routine" (for example, your daily route home, where you have soccer practice, etc)
  5. "Hangouts" or specific places where you will be
Some thoughts for parents...
  • Google your kids profiles, their Facebook & MySpace pages
  • Explain to your children why sharing information is dangerous
  • Explore your kids' social networks privacy settings, talk to your kids about using them
I know I'm not the first to say this... but if you're not doing your job as a parent and investigating what your kids are up to, teaching them how to be safe online... who will?


Stephan Wehner said...

I guess you would also recommend to parents to set a good example and not post stuff about their children as well ?

This stuff is not easy.


Rafal Los said...

@Stephan- Yes. I have a acquaintence who has a child who keeps posting pictures of their first-grade days, names, places... it's sick.

Unknown said...

wont somebody please think of the children!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sorry, had to be said, but what do you expect out of them at that age? if you dont babysit their activities they are expecting things to be rather trustworthy online and their friends want to know when they can play with them and so on... just the way of the world these days, parents using games, tv and computers to babysit instead of spending the time with the children themselves

dvicci said...

"I don't need to scare you into believing that children are abducted or attacked all the time based off of the information they post online..."

No, you don't. The nightly news, and the CSI:[insert city here] crime dramas do that just fine. What would actually be more useful than generic tips of what not to share, is solid information on how many attacks, be they abductions, rapes, or murders, actually occur through the sharing of such information. Then we would learn about when such attacks happen, and where they are, statistically speaking, most likely to happen. What, exactly do you mean by the emotionally charged claim "all the time"? That would be useful information. That would be good to know.

I'm not disputing the risk, or saying the tips aren't relevant, and wouldn't even have thought to respond were it not for the statement I quoted above. I'm just wondering about the true level of the threat.