We sign up for our free WordPress or Blogger sites. We painstakingly deliberate over choosing the perfect blog name, one that simply describes who we are and how we want to be known in the ever expanding blogosphere.
With a combinations of wide eyed exuberance and innocence, we begin to proudly display our lives on a screen, stories illustrated with pictures of our kids, our spouses, our kitchen tables, exposing ourselves to virtual strangers just for a little bit of validation.
We stick with it. We build our village. Our stories get longer, more poignant, more relevant. We trust our new friends and readers so we expose more of ourselves, letting them into our closets.
Allowing our children into the social media world, we apply stringent rules and regulations as they pick out passwords and avatars, the keys to a whole new way to keep in touch with their ever expanding network of friends.
We Skype, ChatRoulette, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin. We sign up for every new beta social media bigger and better that comes along.
Our names, addresses, phone numbers and blood type of our first born are plastered all over the internet.
“Well, everyone else does it to no effect,” we fake ourselves out into a sense of complete safe privacy, burying our heads deep into the nearest sandbox.
But there are some real dangers out there. Child predators, rapists and other horrible criminal types that use the internet and social media to draw in their victims.
There are also the cyber-stalkers, cyber terrorists and cyber bullies that use the computer to create a cloak of anonymity, thus allowing them to behave in a way that, probably very likely, they wouldn’t do in person.
Cyber crimes are real and they are scary. But I don’t have to tell YOU that.
With the necessity of cyber-laws being so new, they are constant and ever changing to meet the need of the also ever changing and ever expanding WWW.
So how do we really protect ourselves. How do we go the extra step to insure that “Cyber” doesn’t become “In Real Life”?
Once your information is out there, floating through the black hole of the web, it’s there forever. Allowing anyone to get hold of it.
You could always move and leave a P.O Box as a forwarding address. You can change your phone number and keep it unlisted.
But never, ever go in thinking nothing can happen. Because it can and it does. So many of my blogger friends have evil trolls and stalkers. It comes with the territory…see where I said that having a computer creates a mask of anonymity…yeah, it’s a problem.
Make sure your children…especially your children…don’t have any information posted that can come back to haunt them. Enforce privacy settings for them on their accounts where only friends can see their stats. And don’t let them list their addresses or phone numbers on ANYTHING.
Just like the stalkers, kids think that being invisible aside from pics and a flashing cursor is keeping them safe.
A woman I used to be friends with has a daughter who allows anyone to have her phone number and then acts “naughty” when she speaks with them via phone or skype, setting herself up for something we don’t want to think would ever happen to our children. But try telling this woman her daughter does anything inappropriate. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Head. Wall.
That girl epitomizes everything I teach my children not to do on the internet. But, unlike that mom, I believe my children are capable of stupidity. After all, they are my children. I did stupid things too. But, I didn’t have internet dangers to aggravate any dangerous stupidity I would have done. Mine was all mine.
You have to assume that all the bad guys are in your neighborhood…without being paranoid, of course. And you have to keep yourself safe accordingly. Lock some of those virtual doors and windows.
The internet can be a very daunting place.
Report cyber crimes, because that’s what they are to varying degrees, to the proper authorities. Submit help tickets where appropriate, call your police when necessary.
The more we ban together and expose the guilty, the sooner more laws will have to be made to protect our children and ourselves.
A crime is a crime, whether it’s someone beating you with a stick or beating you verbally in the comment section of your blog.
It needs to be dealt with and it needs to end.
p.s. Cyber laws need to be harsher as somewhat of a deterrent to those who feel that, because they are online, they are safe from being caught doing wrong.
photo courtesy of google and istock photos
Tara R. says
I think a lot of kids don’t appreciate the permanency of the internet. You can delete a photo from your blog, or Facebook page, but there is always a cached copy of it ‘out there,’ and chances are it will come back to bite you on the arse at the worst possible time.
You’re right, parents need to police their kids’ public pages. There are some scary people ‘out there.’
Tara R.´s last blog post ..Snow-free state
You are so right. Everyone I know thinks I’m paranoid about the ‘net – but better safe than sorry is my motto. Too many people put far too much info out there.
Gigi´s last blog post ..The Bastardization of American Literature
In addition to dangers in getting stalked, there’s also risks in future employment. Anyone can just Google up your name and find out what you’ve done, what your political opinions are, pictures of you while you’re drunk, etc…
Henway´s last blog post ..Murad Reviews
Momo Fali says
My 12 year old doesn’t have her own phone or her own e-mail account (much to her chagrin). I’m also considering never letting her date. Ever.
When we first got online I was 14 and my sis was 13. We had AOL and would go into chat rooms to talk to other people like us. That isn’t exactly what we found. I “met” a guy who said he was 15 and he would send me sexual emails and our IM conversations, albeit one-side, were inappropriate. I never knew how to reply to his suggestions that I blow him because I was just a kid. He didn’t live in the same state but we ended up talking on the phone once and it was weird. I wish that my mom had monitored our online usage because after awhile I found sites that no 14 year old should be seeing. I didn’t grow up too fast because of the freedom I had but I don’t plan on letting my daughter have free reign over what she views online. And as far as a cell phone goes? We’ll see if she even gets one til she can drive.
PJ Lincoln says
It’s a good post and I agree with much of what you said. As far as criminally punishing folks for nasty comments, not so much. As hurtful as they can be, you can’t crush the First Amendment to make everyone play nice. There is a point when nasty becomes stalking, and I do think that should be punished.
PJ Lincoln´s last blog post ..You tell me- Good- bad or ugly