As ridiculous and careless as this statement may seem, there are many parents that are letting their children play freely in the busy internet highway and are not taking a proactive approach in keeping them safe on social sharing sites. Is this because parents don’t care or could it be that the internet age is changing so fast that they can’t keep up with all the new social networking trends?
I hear these concerns being repeated by many parents I talk to:
- Can I trust a social networking site?
- Can sharing information online really be safe?
- Will the information my child shares cause a member of my family to be the victim of identity theft?
Some parents respond to their concerns by banning their kids from all social networking activities.. This action brings back mental pictures of being on ‘phone restriction’ or even losing my ‘driving privileges’.
An all out ban seems a little extreme to me and as a concerned parent I find myself thinking there must be a better method to solve this problem. Can I protect my kids and still allow them the freedom to communicate online?
So, can parents trust social networking sites? I think so, but personally my question is how far and which ones? The fact is that social network sites are conceptualized and created around ‘openness and the freedom to share’. As seen recently with the Facebook privacy blowup most if not all social sites aren’t protecting our best interests, but in fact are running businesses and profit is their bottom line. With this in mind I still think social networks are a good thing if used with caution
The bigger question for me however is protecting the information I share online. Since most if not all social networks are centered around ‘openness and freedom’ they seem to take a backdoor approach to securing the information I post. They aggressively protect themselves by incorporating policies that shift all responsibility and accountability back on me. While I understand this completely, I think the problem lies not in the policy, but in the security perception they convey.
Tons of marketing dollars have been spent attracting users to these sites and providing them with easy tools to encourage sharing. The perception is given that it is safe to share with ‘friends’ or ‘friends of friends’. What they don’t say, which is vitally important, is “watch out for what you share”. Anyone viewing your information will and can have access to it forever, and yes that includes those old friends that are no longer are on your “friendly list”.
So is Sharing information online really safe? The answer is “no” unless you have continuous control over what you have shared. Social network users need to come to the stark realization that if it’s digital and uploaded, posted or shared online; it’s not safe. So don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t be willing for your grandma to see
So would you let your kids play in a busy street? No, you’d educate them to the dangers and set rules for them to follow when they must be near the internet. And if they’re like my kids…you repeat repeat repeat…..
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