22 Apr Internet Privacy
“I’M NOT COMPUTER SAVVY! MY KIDS KNOW MORE THAN ME! THAT’S WHY I DON’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA!” I cringe when I hear this because I consider these to be excuses. Like it or not, technology and social media are here to stay. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves and to get comfortable enough with technology so we can guide our kids and minimize risks to our families.
by Hayley Kaplan
Parents should be aware of what kids do online.
Have younger kids use technology where adults can observe, teach and intervene. Guide kids when you’re present so they know how to behave when you’re not. You can’t often watch older kids but you can learn what they do online during amicable conversations, sometimes in the form of asking for help. Such discussions give parents the opportunity to point out risks that aren’t obvious to kids. For example, Snapchat disappearing photos and videos should only be used if sharing them extensively won’t cause trouble because images can be captured by a screenshot before disappearing. (Search “Snapchat” on what-is-privacy.com for more details)
Don’t avoid social media because you are worried about sharing personal information. You needn’t share much, but if you’re not on it, you can’t see what others are doing in real time, including your own children.
I almost had a heart attack when I read a crude post my son made on Facebook in the midst of college applications. The taboo post was a penalty for losing a bet and my son was oblivious to potential negative consequences. Humorous and sarcastic comments made me want to crawl out of my skin with embarrassment until the post was deleted. But, I don’t regret the incident because it provided a valuable opportunity to learn from a misjudgment before anything terrible happened.
To be effective, it’s helpful to use or understand the social media platforms kids are using. But be sure to use common sense when connecting:
• Don’t embarrass your kids or you’ll lose access.
• Don’t confront kids publicly – communicate privately instead.
• Participate sparingly or kids will not do what comes naturally and you will lose your opportunity to guide. Kids won’t stop improper behavior; they will simply move it out of your view.
Be a good role model.
Do you frequently take phone calls and check your phone in the company of others? Do you place your phone on the dinner table at home or in a restaurant? When socializing with others, phone use is impolite. Remember to be actively present in the company of others and to teach kids to do the same.
Help kids develop people skills and meaningful relationships.
In-person interaction is an opportunity to observe non-verbal cues such as eye contact and body language and learning to read such cues is an important skill improved with practice. Texts and emails are susceptible to incorrect interpretation but in conjunction with social media they appear to be the preferred mode of communication for many people these days. It may be time to return to telephone and face-to-face interactions to preserve our ability to communicate in person!
Enter your name, city and state into spokeo.com and whitepages.com and see what comes up. Expect to see your age, relatives, contact information and the addresses of all properties that have your name on title as well as the price paid for them. The link to a satellite image corresponding to my home address revealed my home, yard and car in my driveway. Imagine how easy it is for an identity thief, stalker or predator to connect the dots from these public records to our public social media profiles and to easily access the information they need to harm us! You owe it to yourself and your family to opt out where you can. For easy instructions, go to what-is-privacy.com and click on the “Remove Online Info” tab of the blog or type “Remove Online Info” into the search box.
The online world can be intimidating and dangerous but fortunately there are many tools available to protect our families. For information on a variety of online topics including resources pertaining to cyber privacy and cyber safety, visit what-is-privacy.com. If you have questions or need assistance, please reach out via the contact form on the site.
Until we meet again, … Stay Cyber Safe!
About the author: Hayley Kaplan helps businesses, individuals and families protect their online privacy, reputation and identity by bringing awareness to Social Media and Internet-related issues and by providing suggestions and solutions. Hayley conveys this important information in customized lectures and on what-is-privacy.com.