Social-ly Smart

Social-ly Smart

Posted by Hallie S. on Apr 12th 2018

I had a conversation this past week with my brother and we were talking about ‘way back when’. He was on a mini rant about how when they have celebrations, occasions, get-togethers at his house, what have you - that one of the first things the kids ask for is their Wifi password. And how he doesn’t understand the snapping, the chatting, the tweeting, etc. And how grateful we both are that we grew up in a time when we did. Not the age of dinosaurs - we’re just talking the 80’s and 90’s. When ‘cool’ was rollerskating on Friday nights and MTV was cutting edge.

Don’t get me wrong - progress is great. And necessary. And I am all for it. It has opened up a lot of doors to virtually (get my pun?) anything that you can imagine. And, on the flip side, it has opened up a lot of doors to anything you can imagine. The recent Facebook issue is a prime example of some of the pitfalls of social media. And what CAN happen with the information that we put out there. So how do we protect ourselves? How do we protect our children? It is an epidemic that affects each and every one of us and, in my opinion, worth a few seconds of reading.

Facebook Dilemma

I had to do a little research on this because I knew some of the info but not a lot. On Facebook, you will most likely come across one of several different types of quizzes. Most of us have seen them, many of us have taken the quizzes. Myself included. Well, Facebook gave permission to a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge to gather information from users who downloaded the professor’s app - “thisisyourdigitallife.” The app was a personality test and what happened when Facebook users download the app is they also inadvertently gave the professor permission to gather personal information. Information that included data on their location, their friends and content that the user had ‘liked.’ This was allowed under Facebook’s rules at that point in time. Bad news - the professor then provided that data to Cambridge Analytica. From over 50 million profiles. A breach of Facebook’s rules. Millions of us INVOLUNTARILY shared personal information. A huge violation of privacy. Yikes.

Bottom line is despite their being ‘rules’ and ‘regulations’, you know what happens. Despite promises of being protected, sometimes we AREN’T as protected as what we think we are. Scary for us as adults that use some sort of judgement about what we post, what we snap or tweet. Beyond terrifying for us as parents with children that don’t consider the repercussions their posts, their tweets. Teens that are impulsive, tweens that are new to the world of social media, the whole “everyone does it” explanation…all of them. How do we go about protecting ourselves? Protecting our children? Protecting our privacy and our identities? Well - I’ve got some ideas.

10 Tips to Protecting Yourself on Social Media

This is not an end all be all list. Some of it may pertain to you and some of it may not. But there is some good helpful info here that can make a difference in protecting your privacy.

  1. Manage your privacy. Almost every social networking site has privacy settings. Check them and check them often. Be certain that you are only sharing information with the friends and family that you want your info shared with.
  2. Change your passwords. A lot of sites now have you change your password every 30 to 90 days. Although a pain, I do think this is key. Grab a notebook, open up your Notes and keep track of your passwords. We keep a family text going specifically to keep up on password changes as Netflix and Spectrum is often changed due to someone’s (cough cough Lexi) inability to remember them. But change em and change em two to three times a year if possible and use different passwords for different accounts. Password managers such as Dashlane make it easy to store all of your passwords for your accounts.
  3. No auto login. This goes hand in hand with changing your passwords. Yes, I know auto login is great. It’s one less thing we need to remember. But it’s a bad habit to get in to. Especially on our smartphones. If someone does manage to get into your phone and your passwords are set to auto login - well then they have no problem getting into your social media accounts and accessing your personal information.
  4. Close old accounts. This is significant. I don’t care if it’s Linkedin, MySpace, Match, whatever it is - if you don’t use the account any longer close it. Delete as much of your personal information as you can and then delete the account for good.
  5. Think twice before you click. I am inundated with links. Get them all the time. Be wary about clicking on links. Even if it’s from a ‘friend’. I have been sent messages, tagged in posts, emailed, you name it - that contains some innocuous link. If it looks odd, seems strange - don’t do it. And don’t hesitate to ask your friend if they sent it before you click.
  6. Double check your location services. This is important. Check to see with what apps your location is being shared. I was shocked to find out how many of my apps were sharing my location. Shocked. Go to Settings>Privacy>Location Services. Takes two minutes to make sure that the apps that you want sharing your location are doing so. And those that you don’t - are NOT sharing your location.
  7. Know your ‘friends’. I have found this to be an issue on Instagram. I get these requests to be followed all the time. Not that I post these amazing pics or anything. It’s just propaganda. And initially, I was like “Oh yay! People that I don’t even know think I’m interesting!” And then you request to follow them and find out - no, you’re not that interesting - you're simply another number. Be choosy on whom you follow and whom you do not, whom is your friend and whom is not. Don’t get caught up in that number of friends or followers.
  8. Double check your pictures. I too have NOT done this but luckily had some friends that reached out right away to let me know. Before you post a picture, make sure there is not personal information such as addresses, etc. on the picture. You’d be surprised how often we do it and don’t realize it.
  9. No need to share personal info. Most social media sites ask you for your address, phone number, email, blah blah blah. If you aren’t required to share it, don’t. Leave it blank.
  10. Share your vacation AFTER your vacation. I see this all the time. Vacations are awesome and super and amazing. Share once you get home. Otherwise you are opening up the door to letting everyone you are connected with that you aren’t home. And, like it or not, that does pose a risk. So go, have an amazing time and then share it with us when you come home. If we’re friends that is...

10 Tips for Protecting Your Children on Social Media

Like it or not as parents, social media is a fact of our children’s life. I’m not crazy about it and, to be honest, a lot of it I am not very good at. Like Snapchat. Totally do not understand that one at all. Regardless, there are things that we can do to help protect our children on social media - NOT a foolproof plan by any means but hopefully does give a little added assurance that everything is on the up and up.

  1. Be their friend. This is a no brainer. Friend me. Follow me. I will follow you. If there is nothing to hide than there should be no problem. Makes them a little more accountable and keeps you somewhat in the loop. Now, of course, kids being kids, they may have multiple accounts and you won’t know everything, be in the loop on everything. And if you’re commenting and liking or on their case about what they are saying or writing or posting - it’s going to cause a problem. A lot of it seems silly to us as dinosaurs but to our little trolls - they are just being kids in 2018. Awareness and accountability on our end as parents but be reasonable. And this leads me to number 2.
  2. Let them earn your trust. You can talk til you’re blue in the face and your children are going to listen to about 10%. Because you’re a dinosaur and what do you know. You don’t understand. So let them earn your trust. No passcode on the phone. No deleting text messages, etc. I told my children when they first got their phones that if they were using them responsibly then there should be no issue, nothing to hide, no need for privacy.  Do I want to read their messages?  Not really.  But do I have an obligation as their parent to make sure they are using said phone and social media responsibly?  Darn right I do!  And there have been things I have come across that needed to be addressed and were done so immediately. The rules have relaxed over time - but that’s because the trust was earned.
  3. Check their privacy settings consistently. This is a big one. Not just the settings on social media but also the settings on your computer - the privacy settings, cookie levels, third party sites. Make the privacy settings age appropriate and then set an administrative passcode so they can’t be changed without said passcode.
  4. Create rules and stick to them. This is a hard one for us as parents to follow through on but one that is so necessary. There are countless programs or features on your family accounts that you can set up so you know every time a new app is downloaded. Set your router settings to disable Wifi at night to eliminate staying on phones and computers into the late evening hours. Make the rules, go over them in detail and have consequences for when the rules are broken - because they will be.  And then follow through.  When kids know what to expect they typically fall into line pretty quickly with abiding.
  5. Monitor their photos. Ugh. Some of the pics out there…Kids often don’t realize the message they are sending with the pics that they post. Photos that they think are cool may make them a target for things that are far from cool. Be very aware of the pictures that your children are posting and that there is no identifying information in the background.
  6. Be nice. This is really as much for adults as it is for children. If it’s not something you’re willing to say to that person’s face, don’t post it. Don’t take part. If it’s not a picture that you’re willing to show your mom or dad, don’t send it. And, by the same token, don’t accept those pictures, don’t pass along those photos, those messages, share them, etc. I have seen countless kids get in trouble for doing nothing other than a text that was sent to them that had photos or snapshots of a text that were not appropriate. Cyber-bullying is real and kids need to understand what it is and what to watch for.
  7. Learn about the social media your child is using. Again, important. Do your research on the social media sites your kids frequent. Know the age requirements. Know how it works the best you can. And make sure it’s age appropriate. Facebook has a minimum age of 13 and for some 13 year olds, that’s fine. Others may simply not be ready at 13 to embark on a social media journey.
  8. If you see something, say something. If you see something that concerns you, say something to your child. Go back to number 2. If it makes you uncomfortable, bring it up to your child calmly. Give them the opportunity to explain before you make a judgement. But don’t not say something if you see something that seems off.
  9. If you don’t know them, don’t friend them. Regularly check your child’s friends. Their followers. Obviously you’re not going to know everyone but you will most likely see when something seems strange or a little off. It’s also an opportunity to see whom your child is ‘friends’ with. Whom they follow. Get a little insight into their world. And that is ever important as they grow older.
  10. Remind them that once it’s out there - it’s out there. Having children that are at the college age, play sports, etc. I am constantly reminding them that once they post something, it’s no longer theirs. Future employers, coaches, anyone can find it, see it, read it, make a judgement call on it. Preach it, say it, repeat it. Think twice before you hit ‘share’.

Living Out Loud

We live our lives out loud, peepers. Some a little louder than others but regardless, we share a lot of our lives with people in this day and age. And where sharing is caring, too much sharing is sometimes not a good thing. And, in a day and age where cyber-bullying and hiding behind our screens is a real problem, something has got to start changing. Be aware of what you’re posting. Protect yourself and your privacy and your families. I’m not saying stop using social media - quite the contrary. I’m simply saying that by being a little more aware, a little more savvy and accountable, a little smarter about the dangers out there that can negatively impact us and our children, maybe we can start to make a small dent in the social media challenges we face today. We are the role models for our children so let’s not just preach it - let’s practice, implement, be the good example for them to follow.