I was asked to join Chicago’s Bump Club and Beyond at the local Microsoft Store to be a part of a panel with three other terrific bloggers and writers. We each had a topic to talk about and mine was online safety.
My kindergartener is currently familiarizing herself with the online world, so, online safety and privacy protection are topics that cross my mind on a daily basis. It’s part of my job to keep current on the latest technology trends, so I can effectively do my job as a parent, which is protecting my kids and steering them in the right direction.
That being said, here are some things to keep in mind for online safety and privacy:
- Social Networking – When creating an account online where you’re going to share personal information about your life, research the site’s privacy settings before posting or uploading anything. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace or Twitter (to name just a few); each service has privacy options that need attention. It’s important that you understand how each one works, before you completely dig in.
- Blogging – Blog platforms (ie: WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, etc.) also have privacy settings. You have the option of keeping your blog unlisted from internet search results or password protecting individual posts. You can also password protect your blog, so that only the people you specifically give the URL and/or password to will be able to view it.
- Photo Sites – (ie: Flickr, Photo Bucket, Shuterfly, etc.) You have privacy settings here, too. The ability to set photo visibility to contacts only, excluding your photos from search results and setting your sharing terms are just a few of the options to review when uploading personal photos.
- Using Names – Depending on how social you wish to be online, you may want to refrain from using yours or your kid’s full names. For example; I don’t always use my daughters’ first names. I’ll say, “the kindergartener” or “the toddler”. A lot of people have nicknames they’ll use for their kids, like, “little miss” or “little mister”.
- Forever is a long time – Remember that anything you post online is there forever. When your kids are older, they may see what you posted about them when they were six. Be mindful of their dignity. I would specifically encourage you not to post pictures online of your babies/toddlers/kids when they are naked. I have taken thousands of photos of my kids and yes, there is an occasional shot of their cute little bottoms as they’re scurrying past me, but those are filed away for me, not for the rest of the world to see.
- Times are changing/Announcement Etiquette – This tip is geared toward those of you who are having babies. Chances are, many of your friends and family are using social networking sites. Be aware, that in their excitement, these friends and family may post their own status updates, sharing your special news. I think it is important that it is made clear to them whether or not this is acceptable. You may have to consider sending out an email to those on your friend list, asking them to refrain from posting anything until you give the ok. We are all pretty immersed in technology but unfortunately, not all of us are up to par on online safety and privacy. You have no idea who will end up seeing your news if you’re not the one posting it. The etiquette should be: You shouldn’t post anyone’s personal information or special announcements without permission or before they do.
- Disclosing your location: “Checking in” is all the rage these days. People use social networking applications like, Foursquare, Get Glue, Facebook, etc. to log where they are at any particular time. Remember that when you check in somewhere and you’ve made this information available to the public, the wrong people may assume you are not home and act on that. Please check and double-check your privacy settings and only share your location with trusted contacts.
ONLINE SAFETY RESOURCES
Stay current with social media and technology trends: