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Most everyone has an online life even if you are not on “social networks”. With Google stepping up search options and Bing, right behind them with their new mapping system you can search almost anyone’s name and find out some bit of personal information.
For some this is a scary world we live in, for others (like me) we saw this change coming and prepared for it. It is no secret that most of my life is public knowledge…I think of it as I have nothing to hide, so just make it public. I am criticized daily for putting my life, my kids, and my personal information online well my response is if you don’t want to know then don’t read or look at it. However, I also realize there is a danger to having everything public and years ago, I learned the hard way how just plain out ignorant people could be.
When I first started blogging, I honestly thought no one actually read what I wrote, so I did not worry about referring to my family by name. One day out of the blue, I received what I like to laugh about as “fan mail” somebody who read my blog actually took the time to find my mailing address and mail me a letter that basically said I was using my kids for popularity. I have no intention of exploiting, using, or taking advantage of my kids…in fact if you look back over my blog, post they get a pretty good deals out of the work mommy does. After the anger the letter caused passed, I started to think rationally and realized if one person could find me how many others could. I had two options give up blogging (which I believe is what the “fan” wanted) or to learn how to protect the identity of my kids.
Social Media has it’s perks and has its flaws, daily I login to read anything from Bible verses to who is sleeping with who today. I suspect I have become immune to the negativity, because I am probably the only person that will argue that great things can be done through Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks if they are done right. I am asked daily how it safe for me to post photos of my children and know they are not going to be turned into something nasty….well you do not, but there are ways that you attempt to protect your children on the social networks.
Use alias names for your kids, I rarely refer to my kids by their real name. One day the kids and I were walking through the grocery store and someone called my child by their alias name and I patted myself on my back for thinking ahead and realizing one day my kids could be recognized. Be cautious about labeling your photos with your kid’s names. It may seem silly, but someone could recognize your child just by a photo. I also rarely call my friend’s kids by name or list their names with photos, it seems a little over protective, but those are not my children and I know there are dangers with social networking.
Turn the GPS locator off on your social networks, I am often required or asked to “check-in”, and live tweet when I am traveling, this is similar to live reporting. Locally I will also often check-in to give local businesses some extra media attention. However, my secret is I rarely check-in at a location until I have left I also rarely check in at places that I regularly visit unless they are a place that I am well known and feel completely safe. I also refuse to check into a place close to my house or disclose where I actually live. It annoys me to see other people check in at their house and then post pictures of their children….HELLO are you asking for a kidnapping????
Follow Facebook age guidelines, this has been an argument for Lesse and I for over a year. I refuse to allow her to have a Facebook or Twitter account. The rules say age 13, giving that at age 13 she will not instantly have free run of Facebook, but I think 13 is an age that she can connect with her family and friends. Until then she is not old enough to understand the dangers and responsibilities of social networking.
If your child has social networks, require them to give you their passwords and access to their social network accounts. Social network bullying has been a problem in the past and I feel it is important to be able to monitor your child’s social network accounts.
Talking about personal life on social networks, this is where I have been criticized the hardest. For the past year “people” have stated you should not be talking about your divorce online, well, the fact is that is what was going on in my life. It was not something I was choosing to live through, it was not something that was going to just go away, and it was something that I knew if I talked about, I could help others. I have received numerous messages, comments, and emails from readers saying I am so glad you talked about your pain it made me feel like I was not alone. Others have said your kids may one day read what you have wrote and become mad at you, well my kids have lived through this past year with me. They have witnessed me dealing with situations I should have never had to deal with, they have seen me cry, seen me smile, and sat right beside me as we bowed our head in prayer for guidance to get through that storm. I do not think talking about it publicly will harm my children anymore than what they have seen firsthand from situations I could not control. My full theory behind talking about life on social networks is if you are hiding something then that is why you would not want it to be public.
Keep social networking positive, I have started a “trend” here locally with sharing positive remarks. Many may not even realize that they are following the trend, but I have seen the change in their online attitudes. Staying positive, posting real life, but not hateful statements, can influence others. I do often put up funny statements from my kids, post photos of our crazy, but fun life, and share things that really happening. I see others share my statements, comment, and even ask questions about what I have said.
Social networking should not be a burden or scary for people, yes gossip happens online, but gossip happens at the local grocery store. If you navigate through this world online or offline you will find someone who disagrees with your opinion, so just play social networking as your real as you are in person, protect your kids, and enjoy your life.
The Social Media Rebel
Balance! That's the key!