As the wife of a law enforcement officer, I can attest firsthand that internet crime is becoming a increasingly prevalent part of this generation of social media users. Between harassment, stalking, identity theft and more, what you share with the online world is there forever, giving these crimes an opportunity at every turn. There are many ways to keep your information and family safe online, but for a narrow focus, here are five steps to remember:
1.) Location is Everything. You have heard this tip time and time again — TURN THE LOCATION “OFF” ON YOUR PHONE. If not, every photo you share is detected by GPS and is sharing your location at the time you share your photo. Also common: “checking in” on Facebook. How many times have you seen someone update their status as “just checked in at (enter restaurant name here).” Not only does that let the entire Facebook world know where you are eating supper, it also informs everyone that your home is empty, leaving it prime real estate for a burglary.
2.) Keep Vacations Quiet. Similar to number one above, sharing posts like, “Three days left until our trip to Disney World!” lets everyone know you are going to be out of town. Or posting pictures from the beach also informs readers of your absence. Tip: share normal photos while on vacation. When we went to New York City last year for five days, I posted pictures online every day we were gone. The difference? While we were doing this:
My social media followers/blog readers were only seeing this:
I shared photos from the farm that I had taken a week prior to our trip and saved to “use” while we are gone.
3.) Home Sweet Home. I see it every holiday season — people sharing photos of their entire front of their house, lit up for Christmas, or a fall display on their front porch, sharing their house number in the background. Be mindful of sharing any photo where your home can be easily located. Also keep in mind that photos taken inside of your home show points of entry and valuables that you may own (flat screen TVs, firearms, jewelry, etc.). It is best to keep your home away from the eye of social media.
4.) Children at Play. Whether or not to post pictures of your children online is always a topic of debate, but if you choose to do so, absolutely avoid bathtub pictures or any sort of child nudity (kids playing naked in the sprinkler, etc.), or posting about which school or daycare your child attends. If you have foster children in your care, sharing their faces or information online can be a potential safety issue for them. Many people choose not to share their children’s names online as well. Best rule of thumb is to always be discreet when sharing anything about your children online.
5.) Just Don’t Post. When in doubt, simply stay offline. If you have family that wants to see pictures of your kids, email them. Or do it the old fashioned way and print them off and mail them. It would be a great gift for grandma and keeps you worry free. Similarly, online purchases using your debit or credit card are always optional. As easy as it is to constantly keep people updated and in touch, it is obviously not a requirement. Posting online is an option and a choice. Only you can decide what is best for your family.
Do you have any tips you would like to add for social media safety? Share below and let’s chat!