When I first started blogging, I didn’t really think about over sharing. I was aware of what I shared could be revealing of my life but I would still share my kids names, their photos and I’d even check in on Foursquare. No big deal because everyone else was doing it. After blogging for a bit, I started reading stories from other bloggers. Stories of people getting negative comments from people and the commenters would actually use their kids names. Stories where people started “stalking” them online and could name their family members and where they lived.
I started to change the way I shared. I gave the kids nicknames and I never checked in online again. I started to do everything I could to protect myself and my family but not over sharing. Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing our lives with my friends online I am just more careful now.
Of course as my kids are getting older, I had to teach them about online safety as well. I taught them the basics but I didn’t keep up with my discussions after that. When the Clever Teen got an Instagram account I thought, it was okay because she could control who followed her. Well one day I did a phone check and I freaked out. She had made her account public and all sorts of people were following her. Not only that, I saw where she commented on someone else’s photo (a friend) with her phone number. I may have freaked out just a bit. She thought, no big deal because kids do that all the time. I had to discuss with her about how anyone can see anything she publishes online. An example I used was I found out she was also on Twitter, without my permission none the less. I saw a tweet where it had referenced a boy, purely innocent but I took that and I asked her how this “boy” was. The look on her face was like she had seen a ghost. I told her that I saw this, publicly and anyone can see anything shared online. Even private, people can find a way.
Since these discussions with the Clever Teen, she has gotten smarter about what she shared. Now that the Clever Guy is getting older, I have needed to have these discussions with him too. I only let him access certain sites like AnimalJam.com where the site has barriers from people not in his age range.
Here’s the thing, today’s families use digital technology in every aspect of life – from learning and socializing, to gaming and shopping! Broad access and use of technology is awesome – and opens so many new opportunities for so many students. But like any aspect of life, there are things you need to know to make positive, safe decisions.
Here are some tips for introducing your kids to online technology:
- Talk to your kids about technology as something to enjoy but safely. Continue to talk with them.
- Share real life scenarios. You can find many stories about bullying and scary people luring kids online. Sharing stories like these make them aware that mom’s not just being “protective”.
- Have access to all accounts and passwords. The kids can’t have an account without mom being able to access it.
- Monitor their use. Do phone checks and have computers in a place in your home where everyone can see.
- Educate yourself on the popular apps and websites so you know what your children are using.
- Use caution when sharing any information about your kids. If your kids are on sites like Instagram, be careful when tagging them.
How do you protect you and your family online and in social media? The #ShareAwesome contest invites social media users to share a smart and safe decision, uplifting accomplishment, or positive action for the good of others using hashtag #ShareAwesome on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Students who enter a photo between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will be eligible to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship! Visit ShareAwesomeNow.org to learn more.
Disclosure: I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.