If your daughter has access to a computer or a smartphone, chances are that she is using them to connect with friends via popular social media channels. Facebook alone boasts 845 million active users and roughly 250 million images are uploaded to Facebook each day. This doesn’t even take into account other popular sites like Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram and Tumblr.
I’m sure you’ve taught your children the dangers of the Internet and to avoid talking and friending people they don’t know. But do they understand the dangers of photo sharing online? Unbeknown to most teens is the GPS tracking on smartphones: and when you post a picture online, the location the photo was taken is easily accessible by anyone, anywhere. Just look at John McAfee: He’s a man on the run after being accused of murdering his neighbor Gregory Faull. He’s avoided capture, but recently was seen in a photo with Vice Editor-In-Chief Rocco Castoro that was posted without stripping GPS locators, and was taken in Guatemala.
From an early age, many adolescents have gravitated towards computers and can navigate a smartphone like a champ. As high schoolers, they are constantly snapping pictures throughout their day of their lunch, their cute new tube dresses, their clothing choice of the day, their most awesome hairstyles and a group picture of all their friends at the mall and posting them to online to share with 200 of their “closest” friends.
To keep your daughter protected from online predators, here’s what she needs to know:
Turn Off the Geo-Tracking Feature on the Phone
First and foremost, you should turn off the geo-tracking option on her phone. If you don’t, every time they take a picture a record is kept with the date and location of the photo.
Make Sure Your Child’s Social Networking Profiles are Private
Go into your daughter’s profile settings on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site she uses and set her profiles private, so only her friends can see her information. Also, make her “about me” information as sparse as possible: never citing a city, school or phone number. If you’re unsure if the settings are private, here’s an easy way to double-check the settings. If you think you’ve just posted a photo privately, log out of the site and see if you can find the photo by searching or browsing for it.
A lot of the times we get most of our photos from being “tagged” by other users. That’s great if you’re waiting for the group photo you and your daughter took with family friends. But you don’t necessarily want all of your “friends” to see it. Another privacy setting you can set is to have all tagged photos and statuses to be seen only by you. That way when you see all kinds of tagged pictures with you or your children’s name, only you can see that content: Not your 300 friends.
Don’t Be Afraid to Voice Your Opinion
If a photo is posted of you or your family that you don’t want floating around, just kindly as the person who posted it to take it down. If they’re your friends, they will have no problem respecting your privacy. If it’s a picture you want, save a copy to your desktop or ask your friend to E-mail you a copy. And remember, you don’t need the 40 pictures to be posted you took at the zoo — find one or two of the best ones and share them with the people you want to see.
Author: Nancy Silver If Nancy’s co-workers or family need to reach her, they send her a tweet. Yeah, she’s a social media geek and proud of it.