We’ve all seen them. Those little family stickers every mom and dad like to put on their vehicles to show their pride in their family. From stickers of all the family members right down to the pets. Want to get more creative and show your pride in your child’s sports? school? other activities? You can get a sticker for that too. I’m glad my children were grown by the time these things all hit the market because I would have been right along with the crowd putting the family of stick figures on my car along with the sports they played. Now officials are warning that their use can put your family in danger. We live in a transparent world these days. You can probably see most everything your neighbor, family and friends are doing these day’s simply by opening up any of your social media accounts. “On the way to work”, “at the gym”, “graduation night”, pictures of the grandchild visiting, or your vacation shots as your on vacation, and so on and so on. All your activity online for your “friends” to see. We’ve all been warned of the dangers about sharing personal information and knowing who your “friends” online really are. Yet, do we really head those warnings?
I am not going to dispute the officials who are warning about the stick figures, but I’m not convinced just yet that they are as dangerous as some are making them out to be. Sure, it’s another piece of privacy released out there in the open just as posting pictures of your house and family is online. But someone putting a stick figure on their car to represent a love one in the service is not telling the world that that person is not always home for long periods of time. Some are not ever deployed, and for the rest, how is that sticker telling anyone when they are going to be gone? But………. I do know that the military is discussing with its service members that due to the world today, that there is concern for themselves and their families safety and that the less personal information out there the better.
Common sense. What happened to it? We used to tell our children not to talk to strangers, not to leave school with anyone who didn’t know the “safe” word, don’t give out your pass word and don’t tell people on line personal information. But as parents are you communicating safety though your own behavior? How much information are you giving out online? Next time you want to post that picture of your children playing in the yard, ask yourself why? What is your true reason? Yes, you’ll have all your friends “like” it. That makes you feel good. Who wouldn’t want to show their pride in their children. In fact when we don’t get those “likes” we feel bad. Many people experience a bit of low self esteem, hopefully, only briefly. But why put a picture of your child online for the world to see every day. Why post where you are and who you are with several times a week.
I can hear some of you saying to yourself “but I want everyone to know where I am, or I want everyone to see how beautiful my daughter is!” OK but haven’t’ you already shown your social media family that in the hundred other pictures you’ve posted? “Well this one is new” or “she’s just so funny in this picture” or “I’m so proud of him”. Do you really, truly know, personally, all 500+ friends you have on your social media accounts? I know, you trust them, you’ve “chatted” with them or they know some relative or friend of yours so you know they are safe. Facebook has estimated that over 8% of their users are “fake” Though they are trying to eliminate this, it’s there. Now, when you start saying those type of things to yourself, say them out loud as if your child was saying them to you. What would you say to your child if they told you the very same thing? What would you say to your child who is chatting with a “friend” they have never met about what they were going to spend their day during the summer while you went to work. “Mom has to work so I’ll be hanging out here playing my X Box”. “But mom, he’s not a stranger, I’ve been playing (you fill in the blank) on line game with him for the past two months”.
Let’s review other safety factors. Are you changing your passwords as often as “experts” say you should? Is it a difficult password? Probably not on both accounts. I’m guilty of it myself. Now think of one of your pass words…………… I bet it’s not random letters and numbers. If it is then good for you. But more than likely it’s a birthday of a loved one, a family pet, sports team, school, etc and etc. You get the picture? You have probably already put that information up on line in some form. Adding a few extra numbers isn’t something that hard to do for a hacker. Want to tell your friends you’re going to see the latest movie? Why not just wait and write a review after the movie. You want them to know because they might want to go too? OK, then call, email or text. Does everyone need to know? Want your family to see the latest pictures of your child? Email them. Or better yet, print the pictures, give them out for gifts. Privacy? Think your safe because you’ve changed all of your social media sites to “private”. Think again. Those “experts” (who ever they are) have been telling us for years that NOTHING that is online is private. NOTHING online goes away. And every time one of those social media sites updates their program and sends you one of those “notices” about changes, it’s very possible your privacy setting gets changed. So read those notices. At the very least, go check your settings often. OK, I’m off to change my passwords and check my privacy settings.