In part one and two of Social Media Literacy for Parents and Kids I talked a lot about what not to post in terms of respect of self and others, consequences and boundaries. In this post I want to talk about privacy and safety in social media. It’s always fun to share where you’ve been but not always safe to share where you are going with a broad public. Lead by example and share with your kids these tips for protecting their privacy online.
Location, Location, Location.
Did you know there is a setting on your iPhone that allows the phone to access GPS and broadcast your location on social networks? I was on my Facebook account one day and the map there announced the 4 locations I had been at. I won’t lie. It creeped me out. I made a point of getting to know the broadcast settings on my phone much better after that. My social networks no longer have permission to broadcast to my contacts where I am and where I have been. I reserve the right to do it manually at a time of my choosing and most certainly I reserve the right to not share my every move. I reserve my right to privacy. Providing such information does nothing for me and serves as nothing more than digital noise for most of my contacts. The only purpose it serves is advertising for the places I visit. Lead by example and be in control of what information is broadcast to your contacts.
Disabling the automatic broadcast of your location simply puts the control back in your hands as to what information you share. It is a responsibility, because you can actually give away too much information manually than your mobile device would automatically.
If you are going out for an evening, on vacation or anywhere for an extended period of time, keep it to yourself until you get back. Advertising where you are going and how long you will be away is opening the door to trouble. It first lets people know that your home is unprotected and an easier target for being robbed. Second, if others know your children will be home alone during that time, either by something you posted or something your kids posted, it invites an opportunity for them to be taken advantage of in ways ranging from friends trying to orchestrate an unsupervised gathering to something more serious.
The Devil is In the Detail
The details of our comings and goings in life seem benign enough to share. To someone with an agenda that digital noise can be mapped into a routine to gain easy access to someone or provide enough detail for someone to act the part of knowing friend. Just because someone knows a lot about us does not mean they are trustworthy. Social media makes it easy to “collect” people, contacts, and information and to be “collected”. You can reveal too much of yourself very quickly and when your social media interactions meet you on the street or at the front door in real life it can be very difficult to establish boundaries of privacy that were so easily broken in the digital world.
Be My Friend
We all have different reasons for signing up for a social network. Some are to stay connected with former classmates, others for business and others just to share different interests. The contacts we collect in all these instances are not close friends. They follow us for specific reasons and we want them to follow us for specific reasons. Social media makes it easy to forget ourselves and share things with contacts when we would not dream of physically letting them into other areas of our lives. We simply do not compartmentalize people online the way we do in real life. If we can’t do it, how do we expect kids to?
Facebook and Google have ways of allowing a person to compartmentalize contacts to some degree. While a business or fan page on Facebook can be followed by anyone without having a request accepted, you can strictly limit your personal page to just your friends. If you or your kids are running a public fan page on social media keep it strictly business. No personal contact information or personal details. On their private pages they should limit their details to just an email address. Kids under 18 have no real reason to post the school they go to and where they work. No one, of any age should make their address and phone number public on social media.
Accept friend requests judiciously. If you are using social media for business purposes you probably have a blog, fan page or Twitter account that is open to the public for just that purpose. Your followers do not need to be a part of your private page as well. Young kids should be particularly careful who they accept friend requests from. If they do not know the person, even if the request is from another kid, don’t accept the request. Many sexual predators gain access to their victims because they pretended to be a kid themselves. Kids should learn to question things now. How does this person know me? Why does this person want to connect with me? Why would I want to connect with them? These are the same questions and rules that apply in face-to-face interactions.
Parents and kids should have direct conversations about who in their broad social spectrum is truly a close entrusted friend. From that will hopefully come conversations about how to create boundaries with others in a social network and in life and how deal with others who try to cross those boundaries.
Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest