This post is my entry into the Check and Secure challenge. For more advice on family safety online, see Mums on Security.
Dear Future R and M,I am writing this letter to you now that you are two years old. I know in a few years time, you will both be internet experts because this is the age that you are growing up in. A world full of gadgets and apps and smart phones.
Technology has developed so much since I was a child. I remember when I was a teenager, my sister and I got our very first computer. It was huge with a big white bulky screen which sat on top of a neat, little computer desk in the corner of our dining room. The desk had one of those shelves that slid out with the keyboard on and I remember thinking to myself how cool this new technological gadget was!
I didn’t know much about the internet when I first used the computer. This meant most of my time on it was spent playing solitaire or roller coaster tycoon! I loved those games! So simple, innocent and addictive!
It wasn’t until I started college and had access to a computer in the college library that I started to branch out a little more into the world of social media. My friends at the time were on ‘My Space’ and I wasn’t, so that was one of the very first websites I signed up to.
My Space is kind of like Facebook, where you can talk to your friends over the internet and post pictures etc. I didn’t really get to grips with it if I’m honest with you. I much preferred using my mobile phone to text or call my friends. I don’t actually think I even had the internet on my mobile phone back then!
How things have changed!
Don’t get me wrong, I think advances in technology are great. Being able to see and talk to somebody on the other side of the world is pretty amazing. It’s a great way to stay in touch with family and friends who live far away.
However, one of my greatest internet fears is one that I’m sure I share with every parent.
Some people don’t get it and think I’m being irrational. My recent Facebook status, (or should that be ‘rant’), in my opinion speaks volumes about how I feel when it comes to posting pictures of children online.
I never have and never will post pictures of my children online where they are naked, but it shocks and saddens me that some parents think it is acceptable. In my opinion it’s never acceptable.
What’s even more worrying to me is when friends and family members post pictures of my children online without my permission.
This worries me because I don’t know who their online friends are and you can guarantee that the chances of them being friends with someone they don’t actually know or have never met is quite high.
Why would you accept a friend request from a stranger?
I don’t even accept friend requests from people I was in school with unless I’m in regular contact with them. Okay, I may be seen as a little too over protective, but I’d rather be called paranoid and over the top than have my child’s picture viewed by strangers.
In addition to this, how many parents honestly know what other people do with images of their child?
Do you think all people do is look at it and think, aw there’s a cute little baby?
Unfortunately, the world isn’t a nice place to live in all the time and there are individuals out there who will use your images for reasons that no parent would want them to be used for.
It is so easy for someone to steal a picture that you’ve posted online of your child. Even if you have posted a picture of your child on your blog and have disabled the right click option disallowing anyone from copying your picture, I can still steal it.
I can simply view your blog on my phone and take a screen shot.
Your image is now mine to do as I please with it and I can post it wherever I want to on the internet.
I’m not trying to scare you, but it is so important to think before you post.
Do you really want your friends who you haven’t seen in over ten years viewing a picture of your child in the bath?
It’s so simple to change your privacy settings online and yet so many people don’t.
One of my friends, friends has a profile picture of her daughter in her the bath. I’m not even friends with that person. I don’t know them and I have never met nor spoken to them, yet I can see that picture.
I can see where they live and the chances are I’ll easily be able to find out what school their child goes to by searching for the nearest schools in their area.
When I write about my children on my blog, I never call them by their first names. I simply refer to them as R and M. I don’t want to jeopardise them by using their real names.
I have many fears when it comes to the internet and my children. They’re only two years old at the moment, so I have a long way to go before they will actually use the internet, but I will ensure I do all that I can to protect them when they’re online.
For me this means:
- Having a computer in a public area of the house. No computers in their bedrooms
- Setting up parental controls
- Having a secure home network with a password
- Talking to my children about online safety – not accepting friend requests from strangers, not clicking links in emails, not giving out personal information etc
- Teaching my children to log out of public computers
- Explaining to my children why they shouldn’t post certain types of pictures of themselves online
What do you do to protect your child online? What is your biggest internet fear?