Many parents are genuinely concerned about social mapping, and an even greater number don’t even know what social mapping is. In short, social mapping is a map or profile of a person that is created based on their digital activities. In other words, what they do in the digital world creates a sort of digital fingerprint.
With a little online research, a person can learn a lot about someone, what they like, what they do, where they are, or where they will be going, etc. based on their online activity. From a parent’s standpoint this is a scary thought because it means that their child’s personal information may be out there for everyone to see. In fact, most kids and teens who use the computer a lot may forget about personal information all together, and may be giving out way too much personal details online.
In general, teens are often far too trusting. They share personal information with just about anyone, “Friends” they have never met, followers that ask the right strategic questions, etc. As a parent, it is important to be aware of social mapping, and also to talk to your child about it. Be aware of what sites your child visits regularly, and what they are doing while they are visiting those sites. Many teens have a false sense of security online, and it is important to discuss the probability and possibility of negative results as a consequence to this blind trust.
Because social mapping is prevalent, it is not hard for an online predator, for example, to figure out the relative age and interests of a person based on their online use. So, they can target a child, and gain access to personal information about that person even though they are virtually strangers. It is easy to pretend to be someone you are not online. People are not always who they say they are, and it is important for teens to recognize this.
Kids should not be talking to strangers in real life, and online. It is a good idea to remind them of this regularly. They do not need to be worried all the time, but they do need to pay attention to anything that may seem suspicious, or anyone they don’t know paying too much attention to them.
Because social mapping is real it is a good idea to note that from a parent stand point, encourage your child to be open with you about any and all online activity.
Social mapping is not all social. Many businesses use it as a useful tool for gathering data that can be used to make more effective marketing campaigns. It is a process of combining historic data in an algorithm to produce a prediction of future behavior. Marketers can use this to determine the best places to put ads, or the most effective means of reaching potential customers. This is powerful information that can be used for both good and bad, and that is important to understand and respect.