There is a new threat out there in cyberspace and parents need to be aware of it. If you have a smart phone and take photos of your children to post on social media sites, please watch this video and take heed.
With a few keystrokes, and using the same geo-tracking technology that GPS and other sites use, hackers can find out an inordinate number of details about you and your children, including where you live, where they go to school, what fast food restaurants they frequent and what specific part of the park they play in.
The worst part of this is that it can be done in real-time. This means that strangers can find out where you are at any precise moment. Despicable sites like ICanStalkYou.com offer unsavory users the ability to stalk you and your children.
In addition, care needs to be taken on all social media sites you or your children are involved with.
Before you throw your phone away and lock your children in a tower, there are steps that can be taken to keep them safe. Here's what you need to know:
Keep computers and tablet usage in common areas for children. This will help keep them honest and safe in the sites they go to.
Respect age limits
Facebook clearly states that no one under the age of 13 should have an account. Many parents feel it is acceptable to let younger children sign up, but if you lie about their age, you are putting them at risk, both on the site and in general terms of, "It's okay to break the rules," that they may apply to other areas of life. Respect age limits on social media sites and make your kids obey the rules.
Every site has settings that allow you to configure who sees your page. Go through with your children and set their pages to private. That way, only friends and family can see their posts, photos and other private information. Once you have managed the settings, check periodically, at least once a month, on random days, to make sure that they stay that way.
Book of logins and passwords
Keep a notebook with everyone's logins and passwords for every site. This should be public and open for family members to check. Check them periodically and if they are changed, have the child update the book. Passwords should be changed monthly for the protection of the user.
As a mother and grandmother, I was startled by the news story in the video. I had no idea that much information was out there for dangerous people to hack into so easily. If you take photos with your tablet or smart phone to post on your pages, you don't have to stop. There is a simple way to change the settings on your phone to allow you to post without risking your privacy.
Steps to take before shooting pictures on your smart phone or table and posting them:
Go into your device's settings.
Click on location services.
Turn off the general location service (GPS)
Or, Go to the specific app you want to set to private — camera.
Take your photos and post.
Once you are finished, turn service back on, as this does affect GPS and map apps.
Hold a family night and teach your kids these safety tips. We routinely teach our children fire safety and hold fire drills, but this is another big threat to their overall safety. Though they may consider themselves invincible, older teens are not immune to stalkers and careless posts. As a family, go through each device and show each person how and when to change his settings, reminding them to turn the tracking back on afterward. This allows police to track them should they go missing. Host this evening without instilling too much fear. We don't want our children to be terrified, just to have a good healthy knowledge of what is possible.
The world can be a scary place, but we don't need to be paralyzed by fear if we teach our children well and stay on top of rapidly changing technologies.