Sharing Info Online
I recently attended an online safety conference and met a young man named Wil Craig. Wil was being honored at the conference for his work with ATT's "It Can Wait" campaign.
He has a powerful message to share about the dangers of texting and driving.
Please take a minute to listen.
To learn more about ATT's "It Can Wait" campaign click here: http://itcanwait.com/
Let's face it; most of us may never be in a position of knowing more about technology than those who grew up with the Internet and its devices intricately woven into their lives. However, as parents, we are in a position to impart life lessons such as good judgment, reason, empathy and most important, consequences. This position can be fleeting so the sooner you can start and the more consistently you communicate the most impact it can have.
When it comes to the Internet most teens, and for that matter most adults, may not fully comprehend the concept of permanence. Anything posted online will never truly be erased and can come back to haunt you down the road. Deleting an image or a comment is not an indication that someone hasn't already viewed or copied that image or comment. Being unable to erase a mistake can put the future of today's naive youth in jeopardy. That is particularly so when many colleges and prospective employers frequently research potential candidates on the Internet.
Find any opportunity to remind your teen that everything they post may have an unwanted consequence. Maybe not today, but at some point when it might matter to their future. It may be difficult for many teens to think in terms of their future when it comes to actions they want to take today. But even now, let them consider, is what they are about to post something they would be proud to have a grandparent see?
In 2007 The Ad Council in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children developed some very powerful public service announcements geared to helping teens understand the power of permanence on the Internet. View one of these still very relevant videos below with someone you think that can benefit from the message.
Since its inception, this feature has caused much hype in IT magazines and online forums. Many ardently claim that this feature compromises privacy and endangers safety, while also presenting opportunities for stalking and other malicious activities. Also, friends can check into a certain location and broadcast who they are with, thus sacrificing the privacy of others. In contrast, other blogs state that while some may view it as privacy infringement, Facebook allows one to alter his or her privacy settings so that Places does not apply to them. It is a service for only those who wish to use it and Facebook works perfectly fine without it.
It is critical to explore this feature and make an informed decision before using it. To its credit, Facebook has implemented certain in built privacy settings for those who choose to avoid Places. First, this is an opt-in instead of an opt-out option. This means that Facebook users must manually choose to enable it; it is not a default setting. Secondly, even if friends have tagged you while "checking in," you can choose to reject the tag. This allows your friends to remain checked in and you to remain incognito simultaneously. The simplest way to disable this feature altogether is to uncheck a box in the privacy settings, under "Applications and Websites." This way, users don't have to worry about instantly untagging themselves.
Although Facebook Places does provide added entertainment and some convenience, it is a feature that must be used with complete awareness and prudence. As with all social networking websites, it is extremely important to steer clear of unsafe online behavior.
In reading a recent news story about a nursing student who was expelled for posting photos of herself posing with a human placenta taken during an off-site lab course, I'm reminded of how easy it is to share information on the Internet without fully considering all the possible ramifications, even if we have the best intentions in mind. This is true for both young people as well as us adults.
Those of us who use social networking services should be using the accompanying privacy preferences to help protect our information. But, that is not always enough. What does the term 'privacy' actually mean in the social networking realm? How do we both protect and share information at the same time?
Realistically, there is no true privacy on the social web. Social networks are based on the concept of sharing; therefore, privacy preferences within those environments are designed to protect our content from mass distribution by limiting who has immediate access to view it. By sharing content – picture, video, or any other material - with just one person online, we have moved it from a private to a public forum. It is at the point of sharing content, no matter how limited, that we relinquish control over its future use – we can no longer control who it is shared with or how it may be used. This may lead to unforeseen consequences.
Use this as a reminder to always utilize privacy preferences and view the Internet, not as private, but a public forum. Remember to take caution before posting - the question to ask ourselves is not just who we should share with, but should the content be shared at all.
I don't want to get into all the details about how to sign up and how it works. You can go to the site for those details. Instead, I wanted to share this with you in the interest of sharing knowledge of new uses for existing technology. I don't know how many teens are using this kind of technology, I only learned about it through a few of my friends (all adults).
The basics premise is that you use your cell phone to announce where you are at any given time to your friends on social networks. Here is an example of FourSquare in action when one of my friends went to a local restaurant. (His name and pictures covered for privacy).
Since my friend registered with FourSquare, he has "checked in" 103 times. This means that he posted that he was at a specific location on Facebook and Twitter 103 times.
The badges represent various things including how frequently you go to a specific location and if you have any friends that recently checked in at the same location.
Once you "check in", it shows up on the social networks that you specify. Here is what the check in looks like on Facebook.
And here is what it looks like on Twitter
While there are some benefits to using applications like FourSquare, you want to be careful how you use it. I think it is obvious that you wouldn't want to post your home address. What may not be obvious is that there is some level of risk that if you post your location and often visit the same locations at the same times.
The purpose of this article is to simply show you how existing technology is being used in new ways. It is up to you to decide if and how to use it for yourself and your family. What are some of the benefits you see in using FourSquare? What are some of the risks you see?
3 Simple Rules to Keep in Mind
- Stick with your friends. Have your teens limit their privacy settings to Only Friends. That'll restrict who sees your kids' information, including pictures, videos, and applications they use.
- Keep private information private. When filling out their bios, teens can leave fields blank. There is no need for your teens to post their phone numbers or addresses. These features are optional and aren't required to create a Facebook account.
- Don't let your information get away from you. If your teens haven't restricted who can share their information, their personal data can end up in the hands of marketers. Also, advise your teens to be on the lookout for personal information requests -- like their birthday or music playlist -- from third parties. And make sure your teens uncheck the public search results box so people can't find their Facebook page through a Google search.
What are some simple tips you have to keep yourself and family safe while online?
10 - Who Wants To Know? When you are registering with web sites that ask for information that you don't think it makes sense for them to have, double check it how that informaiton could be used. For example, most of the time when you are commenting, or interacting in some way, it is normal for a site to ask for your email address. But if you are not buying anything, it is not normal to ask for payment information.
9 - Who Are You? It is important to not lie about your identity, but also not reveal too much. It is OK to tell your real first name and age. It is normally OK to share your home state. It is a bad idea to give your address, phone number, or any personally identifiable information to people you don't know in real life.
8 - Sticks and Stones: I have been called many names, by many people - some not so flattering. Many times the best way to stop a bully is to ignore them. Reputable communication tools have the ability to block or ignore users including AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) and e-mail systems, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and Twitter. Use them. Love them. It can help save your sanity.
7 - Just Say No: Kids should be taught to get an adult whenever they see something online that makes them uncomfortable. Whatever makes you uncomfortable should be reported, then you blocked so that person cannot contact you again.
This year, a Girl Scout used You Tube to promote her cookie sale. The video started with her stating her full name, then saying that she wanted to sell 12,000 cookies and why she wanted to sell that many. On one hand, it is an innovative way to sell more cookies. On the other hand, a young girl is saying her full name in a video, doing what some could argue as potentially risky online behavior.
The Girl Scout and her father went on the Today Show with a representative of the Girl Scout organization. Watch this segment of the Today Show and let us know where you stand. Do you think Girl Scouts should be able to market themselves online in any (tasteful) way to sell the cookies? Or should they be barred from online promotion or sales for the sake of safety?
You Are Here is a campaign showing kids and teens how to be smarter consumers. Questions such as how to comparison shop, how to tell if a deal is too good to be true, and even how to protect your identity.
I love that the information is clear and age appropriate, but still covers everything you'd need to know. Although the site isn't 100% specific to online safety, it does cover identity protection, how to identify a scam and how to protect your privacy. Take a look at the site and share it with kids. Come back here and tell us what you think about it.
A Pennsylvania school district is being investigated by the FBI for remotely activating the web cams on the laptops they issued to students. The school district says that they were wanting to track online behavior when the students were supposed to be doing homework. The parents of these students disagree, saying it was a clear privacy violation. It is still unknown how the FBI will find, but I would not at all be surprised to find this a question posed to either the state's or the U.S. Supreme Court.
What do you think? Privacy violation or good intentions communicated poorly?
How to keep our families safe while using technology is just one of the challenges . Enough.org has some shocking statistics on their web site. This is just a small sampling:
- Every second, $3,075.64 is spent on pornography
- 79% of youth unwanted exposure to pornography occurs in the home
- Child pornography has become a $3 billion annual industry
- 20 percent of teens have engaged in cyberbullying behaviors, including posting mean or hurtful information or embarrassing pictures, spreading rumors, publicizing private communications, sending anonymous e-mails or cyberpranking someone.
- 14 percent 7th-9th grade students reported that they had communicated with someone online about sexual things
- 30 percent of teenage girls polled by the Girl Scout Research Institute said they had been sexually harassed in a chat room. Only 7 percent, however, told their mothers or fathers about the harassment because they were worried that their parents would ban them from going online"
Enough Is Enough has developed a program called Internet Safety 101. Holly Hawkins, the Director of Consumer Policy & Child Safety (and one of our very own bloggers ) calls the program "a truly unique teaching series designed to bring Internet safety education into the busy lives of parents and other caregivers." She has witnessed how this program has really empowered parents and teachers regarding online safety.
I am not sure it is ever going to be possible to make the Internet 100% safe for all members of the family - but I do think that through education and empowerment, we can make it a safer place for everyone.
One of the disconnects between kids and adults is that kids are being raised with the technology, so it is simply part of their world. Many adults have begun to use technology regularly, but in many cases there is a definitive line between online and offline. The youth are flowing easily between on and offline and in many ways, there is no difference. They are just two sides of the same coin.
The Door That's Not Locked campaign addresses the incorrect perception of some adults that the door is closed to knowing how to protect their kids because they need to know more about the tool than their kids to keep them safe. This comprehensive site is designed to educate teachers and parents with age specific tips and information, regardless of where the starting point is.
Do you feel like you know how to protect your kids and teens online?
While the Walsh family has my highest respect, the worst part about his story is that the services are needed. I hope that you will never have a need for these services. If I am wishing for things, I would wish that there was not a need for their services. Since there is a need – I am proud that AOL has been partnering with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in many ways for more than 10 years.
Two services available on AOL that can help locate missing kids are:
Alerts: You can sign up to be alerted when an AMBER Alert is sent in the zip code of your choosing. These alerts notify you of a missing child in the area, so you can watch for them. As you know, the missing piece of information can come from anywhere. Alerts can come via e-mail, text message to your cell phone or via Instant Message.
Updated Notifications: You can include a widget for local missing children in your area by going to your local MapQuest page. If you can provide any information about any missing child, you can call the toll-free number 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
The National Center's web site is full of information about protecting kids. I encourage you to check it out.
Of the top 100, I was not at all surprised by what was searched, but I have to admit that I was quite surprised how highly ranked some of the search terms were - especially 'sex' and 'porn'.
There are things you can do to help mitigate your child getting to search results that are not age appropriate. The article mentions several and AOL Parental Controls can also help.
This article made me think. Thankfully, my daughter isn't old enough for the computer, but I am not sure how I would react if I discovered she was searching on these terms. Now that you read their article - what (if anything) will you change about your online habits at home?
When looking at the Internet's road from 2000 to 2010, it is amazing how much has changed. In 2000...
- -- Google existed (it started in 1996), but was hardly a verb in the American lexicon.
- -- If you wanted to share your home videos, YouTube wasn't an option until 2005.
- -- Social Networking was happening via profiles, online chat rooms and message boards, but "Social Networking" didn't happen until the middle of the decade. Now people have multiple social networking sites.
- -- In 2000, media was defined as the newspapers, broadcast news and other forms of "news" we always knew. During this decade there was a new media created, Blogs. There are several blogs that are considered equals to the traditional media. There is even a woman named 26th most influential woman in media, who got there by blogging. That's it. Blogging. According to Wikipedia, as of 2007 there were 112,000,000 blogs.
- -- Speaking of Wikipedia - it didn't exist until 2001. It is a free encyclopedia that is created by anyone who wants to contribute to it. Because anyone can contribute or edit any article, it is hard to use it as a soul source of information - but it is generally a good place to start. In my circle of friends it is considered enough of a source to settle an argument.
Everything Internet related changed so quickly in this decade that I wonder what the world will be like in another 10 years. Do you have any predictions?