Are We Protecting Our Children Online?

20 02 2011

… and are we protecting ourselves?

600 million people are on Facebook, 90 million are on LinkedIn, 175 million are on Twitter, and growing…

Do you know what your children are posting online?  What are they sharing, and how are they saying it?

Do you know who they are friending on Facebook?  Do you see all of the photos they post?  What about direct references to where they live, go to school, take dance class, etc.?

A dear friend recently told me that she is not on Facebook because her 12 year old daughter told her not to join as her daughter does not want her mother spying on her!

Do you remember when you were 12 or 16?  I do – I thought I knew a lot about the world, and I didn’t ever worry about my future.  So, chances are our children are not worried about their future, and therefore, not concerned about what they are posting, and how it might affect them 5, 10, 20 or more years in the future.  And, are they old enough to judge the potential impact of what they do?

I am not an internet expert, so I do not know exactly what happens to every post, comment, web page, etc., even when it is deleted.  What happens when someone gets a notification of a post, and they save it or pass it on?  I’ve heard that if you have the URL of  a photo, you can still see it, even after it is deleted, at least for awhile (it stays in a cache).

Do you know that there are companies storing information including web pages? Here’s one example – Internet Archive – www.archive.org

Of course, the same concerns apply to us adults.  I see use of the “F” word on Facebook (they’re not abbreviating Facebook), political rants, religious beliefs, etc.  Would you want your boss to see these posts?  I am not passing judgment; instead, I am raising awareness that you may be putting yourself at risk, not necessarily now, but at some point in the future.

And, how will you feel when your children perform a search on your name and find these posts or photos some day?  You had a good time at the strip club and posted photos on Facebook.  Now, they’re out there for the world to see, including your children, for years to come.

I once heard a rule of thumb – “Don’t say anything in private that you wouldn’t say in public”.

What is the rule of thumb for social media?  I suggest this: “Don’t post anything on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media site that you wouldn’t want your boss, your co-workers, your HR Manager, your clients, (your children) and others to hear or see.”

Companies are spying on their employees and on their job applicants – here are just a few posts I found on the internet about companies spying and the tools that are being created:

New software lets companies monitor social media networking of employees

Should HR Use Social Media Monitoring Services

The Facebook Factor: Using Social Media to Monitor Employees

SocialMiner: New software allows employers to spy on Twitter, Facebook, social networks

Companies Want to Monitor Workers on Social Networks

Let’s help our children protect themselves, let’s protect them, and let’s protect ourselves.  I err on the side of caution – I do not know all that will exist in the future, but it seems that there will be a lot out there, and most likely, more out there about us, and by us, than we prefer.  Databases, including Facebook’s, are collecting everything that we say, write and do.  I say, let’s give them just a little (a lot) less to use against us.

I absolutely welcome your comments, and please also share other posts on this subject.

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