Hey, Parents… let’s keep our kids safe online!
It’s back to school time and I seem to post this message every year about now. PLEASE please please be careful with your CHILDREN’S identities online.
We constantly warn our kids about not divulging too much personal information online because of stranger danger. We tell our kids “Don’t tell people where you go to school.” and “Don’t tell them what team you play for.” and “Don’t tell them where you catch the bus.” and “Don’t tell them your favorite Pokemon character.” and lots of other little personal details.
People – read: BAD adults – use that kind of personal information to trick kids into thinking they’re a known adult.
A pedophile can easily lure kids into a false sense of security by talking about their school mascot, if they like Mrs. So-and-So as a teacher, how much harder middle school is than 5th grade, how they felt about their Fusion 9U soccer team win, and isn’t Pikachu the cutest… oh and …”Isn’t the bus a little scary? Wouldn’t you like a ride instead? C’mon in. Mom said it’s okay.”
…and then at this time of year, we the PARENTS tell the world via social media where our little minions go to school, what sports they play, sometimes where they catch the bus or even photos of their new driver’s licenses (oh…hello there, child identity thief). We tag the school location with an excited “New 4th grader in Mrs. Smith’s class!” with a photo of our beautiful child beaming out, their favorite cartoon character backpack in their hands.
Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE seeing your beautiful little people. The happy “I get to see all my friends again!” smiles. The new clothes and the “we’re off to learn and do great things” mentality. But, the protective realist in me is shouting out to the masses – don’t do it!
Or, really, be careful how you do it.
- DO take your photo at home, preferably inside.
- DO talk about how excited your child is to go back to school.
- DO show us those new sneakers or blingy t-shirt they just HAD to wear.
- CONSIDER not mentioning what grade they’re in.
- DON’T take your photo by the school or bus stop with identifying markers.
- DON’T tag the school location or talk about a specific teacher.
- DON’T talk about how your child just LOVES Pokemon or soccer or whatever they’re totally into and would talk about non-stop.
- DON’T talk about what your child loves most or likes least about school.
And for those who say “I just post it to family and friends on Facebook.” Guess what? They can pull that information out and share it without any issue. I could have posted the “family & friends” postings from over 50 people that I’ve seen just this week in this blog post…and then it’s out in the Interwebs forever. Do you absolutely know that guy you met at a networking event isn’t a child molester or that the new woman at church isn’t struggling with a mental issue that will make her think her child is yours? You really never know about people these days and we’re making it too easy for people to know our children. We need to be that first line of true protection on the Internet, not just a mouthpiece to the “right things to do”.
All I’m really trying to say here folks is that, as parents, we need to STOP AND THINK. If you wouldn’t want your child to tell it to a stranger…why are you?
XO – T
PS – I know some of you might know me personally and have seen photos of my kids at this time of year. I don’t worry as much about saying where they go to school or what sports they play or what they like in life. BUT…mine are now 14 and in high school. They are bigger than many grown men (not exaggerating). They’ve taken martial arts. They played lineman in football. They wrestle. They throw heavy things. They are smart and articulate and loud and extroverts. And they are ALWAYS together. If anyone tries to take my boys, my odds are on the twins. (And then momma bear gets a shot.) But…when they were younger and smaller I was pretty damn diligent about these points. And I’m just asking you to be careful as well.
Posted on August 12, 2016, in Family, Getting Real, Randomness and tagged back to school, dads on Facebook, internet safety, moms on Facebook, parent posting, parenting safety tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.