Keeping your identity safe online is more of a challenge than it’s ever been. Protecting your kids when they’re online is very important, especially in light of the rate at which they’re learning about the internet and how to add their information to online profiles and various websites. If you have children who are old enough to be participating in online activities of any kind, keeping them safe online and off should be a high priority.
Social mapping, or creating a profile on a person using information about what they do in the digital world, is a growing concern for many parents for a variety of reasons. When we visit a website, send an email or text message or do any number of other activities that define the digital universe, we are contributing to our digital fingerprint. While there isn’t an institution that tracks, or has access to, all the information that we transmit digitally, there are a great many things that people can learn about us with a little online research.
Many people are concerned about their personal information these days; this is especially true where children and their online activities are concerned. In general, people are very trusting and willingly share personal information, often too much information, with people that they may not know very well. If your children are old enough to be online, be vigilant about which sites they visit regularly and what they do while visiting those sites. Social mapping can be a problem when kids spend too much time online, are visiting sites that they should not be visiting or are sharing too much information. Children and teens tend to be generally trusting; this tendency extends to the online world as well. They may willingly share information with people they don’t know because they have a false sense of security online.
People may or may not be who they say they are online. This may be a cause for concern, especially for parents with children who spend any amount of time on the internet. As well, it is becoming a greater problem with advent of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter where people will “friend” or “follow” people without giving it a second thought while inadvertently giving people who may be strangers access to their activity online. There are a few ways you can combat this; have a discussion with your children about the sad reality of the online world: people they “meet” online may not be who they say they are. Just as parents used to tell their kids not to talk to strangers, the same advice is still applicable today, both online and off. This doesn’t mean that kids shouldn’t use social sites or communicate with their friends. Additionally, their thinking about what they are doing every second of every day online is unnecessary. However, it does mean they should be cautious and pay attention to anyone or anything that may seem suspicious. They should also be comfortable coming to you with any questions or concerns they have.
Social mapping can be a very useful tool for businesses to learn about the general behavior of people and how they make decisions. This kind of information tracking isn’t bad when it’s in the hands of the right people who are using it for research and trending statistics. Be aware of the social path you are leaving behind you so you can stay safe and keep your kids safe as well.