These days, a name is all someone needs to track down a lot of scary information.
Nobody likes it when their kid loses a school jacket or their brand new sports shorts.
I'm forever labelling school uniforms, making sure my three kids' names are on their school bags along with my mobile number in case they leave it somewhere. When they do swimming lessons towards the end of the school year, the good old labels come back out again and nothing is spared from being emblazoned with their names, not even their underwear.
Photos are also a must. Each year we take a photo of all three of them, complete with smiling faces as they embark on another school year with new classes and new teachers. Ultimately that photo gets shared to social media where I'm careful to ensure their uniform doesn't reveal their school name and there are no other kids in the background.
There are also some other things we really need to consider before we go sprawling our kids' names across everything they own. And there's a very good reason for it.
Make your own family media use plan. Media should work for you and within your family values and parenting style. When used thoughtfully and appropriately, media can enhance daily life. But when used inappropriately or without thought, media can displace many important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family-time, outdoor-play, exercise, unplugged downtime and sleep.
Avoid visible labels. Image: iStock.
For their own safety
Eyes Open Social Media Safety has shared an image to Facebook to help guide parents, and they've allowed us to share it with our readers:
In October last year, a man in the US took a shine to a girl he saw exiting a bus. He later stormed her home to abduct her.
Although Jayme Closs' abductor may not have used social media to track her (as he saw where she lived) social media does make way for people who don't know your child to find out more about them if they are able to easily access searchable information about your child.
Yet five people talking about one particular school can sound as if they’re talking about five different schools because the idea of ‘school’ is so personal, evoking for each one of us an experience of childhood, of parenting, of hope and disappointment, of what we’ve come to believe about ourselves and other people. When young people talk about ‘school’, they’re usually referring (unconsciously) to those things.
Take some simple steps to make it harder for random people to track down your child on social media.
Image: Facebook/ Eyes Open Social Media Safety .
When you name their items so that they don't get lost at school, consider that their name or even a phone number may easily lead a stranger to their social media accounts ... or yours!
A couple of quick steps you can take are:
1. Name their items in a concealed place (not visible during travel).
2. Remove their surname (or all of their name if they are young) from their social media accounts where possible.
Pick your battles. Kids can't absorb too many rules without turning off completely. Forget arguing about little stuff like fashion choices and occasional potty language. Focus on the things that really matter - that means no hitting, rude talk, or lying.
3. Make sure YOUR social media account isn't giving away information about your child.
This information first appeared on the Eyes Open Social Media Safety Facebook page and has been republished here with permission.