01 May 2011

social commentary Sunday 'stalkers & security'

Greetings all,
On my drive home from Brisbane, i popped into see my brother, his wife & 4 children, in the country.  We were talking about blogs, on line profiles & their children on FaceBook.  They don't mind their children on FB as two are in boarding school, two are at University, it's a way to keep in touch, although children can naively advertise where they go to school/ university/ socially + full names & birthdays (5 points of identification).  I won't reveal on my blog my husband or children's names or any of our actual birth dates, schools, uniforms + i delay actual times of events involving my children (like sports) to maintain their privacy.  If my husband had his way, i wouldn't have a blog or images of our children. 
Anyway, i asked my sister-in-law if any of their teenagers (all social, smart, sporty) had suffered at the fate of stalkers??
She said a resounded "YES, every single one of them".  From varying degrees of on line FB stalking directly, indirectly via 'friends' FB pages & yes, finding out they had been broken-up-with-via-a-FB-status-update . . . all the way to one hunting their eldest son down in Europe!!  This nephew is a catch, friendly, handsome, elite athlete, studying medicine . . . troubled girls find him.  His high school girlfriend was attacked by a girl who was having an imaginery relationship with him (??) & other crazy stalking incidents followed.  What is that saying about a woman scorned "hell hath no fury"??  These are teenagers with hormones, imaginations & the internet!!  We've seen in the news, through real-life-dumb-actions-by-sports-stars . . . mixed with on line social media, professional reputations & careers can be crushed.
We don't plan to 
allow our children to have FB or on line profiles until they are adults & aware of consequences on what can happen to your information in the big bad world.  I'd rather promote actual telephone calls & seeing friends as their social entertainment.  Once they are home, that is family time, limited emails & internet, no mobiles & no on line chit chat time wasting rubbish which can wait until school the next day!!  Surely with the volume of homework & assignments my children have in junior high & primary school, there isn't enough time for anything other than sport, eating & sleeping when they are full blown teenagers??
I asked my brother if his children were clued in that everything on line - not necessarily on their own profiles, but anything about them in any social media capacity - were they aware it's there forever, for future employers, friends, partners to see & judge, for stalkers to piece together where you live, play, party etc??  What about a new boyfriend who turns out to be jealous psycho & check out your history of parties, holidays & love with ex-boyfriends??  OMG, does anyone think about this??  My brother said teenagers have no clue, they don't think about it, it's teenage impulse of here & now, must share everything immediately & no thought for future consequences. 
Even on our sweet-mummy-crafty-type blogs where we innocently post about holidays, births, events & funny family stories, people can follow your child's history & who knows what crazy things they might use it for, manipulation, connection, research.  I think about this every time i post & try to be vague about details.  Christy from Little Betty was telling me at Sew It Together all sorts of weird sites her blog images have turned up on, some very unsavory weird fetish sites??!!  Yes, eeww.  Christy cleverly doesn't  post her children's names & rarely their cute little faces!!  
You can never be too careful, even in 10 years time, something you post might come back to bite you or your family.  Incredibly scary but it's just not the same world we grew up in, with so much information available at the touch of a button.  Love Posie

23 comments:

Catherine said...

This worries me a lot. I'm like you I'd rather not let people know my children's and husbands names it's important for me to try and stay as safe as possible. As for facebook they can wait till they are adults when hopefully they understand that big wide world a little bit better. Thanks for sharing your point of view. Have a great week. xo

Jacinta @ modelmumma said...

I gave FB the flick at the start of the year and don't miss it one bit. It's so easy to put information out there which is fairly personal. I find it concerning when young primary school aged girls put questionable pics of themselves posing in bikinis on FB for everyone to see. Ok, I could blab forever but will shut it here!! :) xo

Miss Prudence said...

Sure is a worry, remember what happened to me recently : having to block mr creepo. It is also worth checking, if you can, the profiles of new followers and have a peek at what kind of blogs they follow. Mr Creepo followed some pretty unsavoury blogs.

My eldest who is soon high school age, thinks FB is pretty dumb as it is time he could be playing footy or computer games (another issue completely LOL)
but i am sure he will want one soon...ugh! My parents got off so lightly! Dealing with a punk phase, sneaky cigarettes and odd clothing - pulease!

Have a good week posie

greta @ topography said...

I can't imagine what our little ones will have to deal with as teenagers in another 10 years... fb and SMS bullying really worry me as girls especially can be so cruel. I HATE how if you comment on a public page on fb your comment comes up on a google search of your name. I don't use names and birthdays on my blog either, thanks for making me not feel like such a Nana!

clare's craftroom said...

I never put pictures of my kids online or their names ever ! They also are banned from FB and MSN if they want to talk to their friends - use the phone in the loungeroom .

Naturally Carol said...

I agree it is worthwhile taking some thought regarding the content and the exposure of our families on a blog. We should remember that our families are at our mercy somewhat on a blog and we should think very carefully of the possible consequences of OUR actions.

Frog, Goose and Bear said...

I think about this too - rather scary!

Nic said...

It's worrying isn't it. Sometimes I think perhaps I'm a bit too free with information. I keep my surname off my blog and everything I do on FB is set to private and friends only (not even friends of friends) but perhaps it isn't enough. Maybe I shouldn't have my children's names on my blog :( Maybe I shouldn't post photos of them which show their faces :( It's so sad that life is this way.
As for teenagers on FB, my niece and nephew (15 and 17) are on FB and I don't think they've had any issues but they are both very savvy about internet privacy. I certainly won't be letting my boys have online profiles until they are high school age, if then, and I'll be making pretty sure they are very very tech savvy re privacy etc.

Annette Piper said...

I'm the same. I may have mentioned their first names very infrequently over the years on my blog, but have not posted photos of them (although other family members have!) have refrained from more than a general mention of their birthdays and an after the fact recount of events we may have participated in - both on my blog and facebook. They don't have more than cursory and supervised internet access and definitely no facebook etc. accounts.

Their school has a website and asked permission from all parents re: children's photos appearing there, to which I said no. Interestingly, I saw in the school's staff room that my three children and two others from one family are the ONLY children not allowed to have photos on the school website. The other 300 odd children are obviously allowed! So perhaps we're in the minority?

Taylor Made said...

We are not a FB family at all...and my hubbie is like yours..he is my moderator and so I try and remember that not just my family read my blog...

Maxabella said...

To be honest, I try not to think about it too much. I guess because the internet reaches far and wide, we're more likely to encounter a crazy person. Which is concerning, but I'm not going to change myself or live in fear about a 'what if'. F them. x

Linda said...

this is so true. my eldest is 18 and she ssures me she is careful blah blah blah on the net but the whole facebook thing just seems to be too much, they just can't live without it

willywagtail said...

So true. I am naturally proud of my children but don't mention their names even though the youngest is 17 and the oldest 23. I have posted a couple of full shots for modelling purposes but even there I think I could be overstepping common sense. Cherrie

Linda said...

ps I must add we were horrified a while ago we were googling our names to see what came up and !!our youngest (just turned 12) her name came up and she has no online presence at all!! but she was mentioned in something her school must of had published about the school band!! so that was totally out of our control and quite scarey

Mama of 2 boys said...

This really does scare me Posie. Without even reading your post, I have those thoughts in the back of my mind. It is so upsetting that we have to be afraid like this, it annoys me.
I am determined not to let facebook and internet access become a main focus in the boys lives, as they get older. I know it will be hard to avoid, but like you said, if they are kept busy enough with other interests, study and seeing friends in person, surely it will limit the amount of time they want to spend communicating behind a computer screen.
Very powerful post.

Becky said...

Agree. I don't post the location of our home, and I don't name the children or my husband online.

Tammi said...

This is the unfortunate downside of living in today's world of modern technology. As if life isn't tough enough to navigate we now have to be aware of everything we do online....it's scary stuff.
x

deux chiens et un garcon said...

Getting the balance right is sometimes difficult to navigate. I think the world a different place now and sometimes you can become too over anxious and paranoid. It is a well known fact that molesters etc are more likely to be well known to the family rather than a stranger.

Have a lovely week.

xo jill

Hot Fudge said...

It's all a bit scary, I thoroughly agree. For this reason I never put names to my grandchildren and only hpost after events have taken place. I am super careful giving out my address when ordering anything over the net as well, preferring to use my PO Box instead of actual residential address. All very sad.

Amy @ Flowerflame said...

There is no doubt that this is something that all parents need to worry about in this day and age. When I first started my blog I really wasn’t sure on how much information I wanted to put out there about my children and personal life. The way I decided on it was if it is something I would happily tell a stranger on the street about, then I would be happy to post it on my blog.

I try not to get too paranoid about the whole internet stalker thing, because I think if someone was determined enough to find out more information about you, such as where you lived, then it wouldn’t be too hard. There are still all the ‘old fashioned’ ways (such as telephone listings and electoral enrolment details) that they can use to find out your address without having to resort to the internet.

Internet security is something that all of us as parents need to be aware of and is something we definitely need to educate our children about. xx

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

This is such a concern isn't it! When my little one was born, we decided to never use her name online. For the moment, while she is still very little we have used photos with her face, but that too will probably end soon.

I think as she grows up with a mum who blogs, it's going to be really important to not only teach her about online security, but to also model good behaviour myself.

There is so much more for them to think about growing up than we had to!

lisa :: the red thread said...

I'm with you on this one Jennie - it's a scary fact of our online lives. I tend towards the paranoid, but having said that, because of my business my surname is out there already... and having a very uncommon surname we are easy to find.

I also agree about the birthday thing. I don't understand it when bloggers announce their birthday and age - as you say, that's one of the things that is always asked as a form of ID.

Although I do use Roxy's name on my blog, until recent months I have only posted non-identifying photos of her (from the back, head turned away or cut off etc). Recently I have posted a couple of her where you can see her face, but she's only a tiny part of the photo so even when enlarged you can't really see her in any detail.

I'm actually a lot more concerned about Roxy's photo being 'out there' than anything else.

We all do what is right for us, and what we are comfortable with. And it is a VERY tricky thing to negotiate!

The other trend that is very disturbing is SEXTing by teens and even preteens. Again, it's the photos that get out there that you can never erase or take back.

Scary stuff.

Make mine Mid-Century said...

This post scared the crap out of me. The end.