B once asked me why my friends called him B. How do you explain to a five year old the security measures a mother takes in the social media world to protect her child(ren). Good question. Especially when many parents don’t seem to be paying attention to their own kids’ safety.

Be Generic

So, for starters, why is B, well, B? Well I’m out in public, often live tweeting, sometimes with my son. It’s harder to lure my son away from me if the stranger doesn’t even know his name. Anonymity.

I cringe when people use his full name anywhere in social media. I have yet to ask someone to delete a post with my son’s full name however, in my early years of social media, I was asked once or twice before I caught on.

Stay hidden

Second safety measure – geotagging. REMOVE IT! I stopped playing 4Square simply because the majority of the time I go out now it’s with my son and the two don’t mix well. I don’t need the world knowing where my son is. I also turn off location information on Facebook and Twitter, even if I’m at home. No one needs to know where I am unless we have plans to meet up. And no one is going to GPS me to meet up with me.

Now some people don’t post pictures of their kids online. I do. But I’m careful not to do so in a manner which would identify where we are, either through geotagging or just background scenery, sometimes I hide his face and I definitely don’t post his name. Generally I post just to Facebook but I do also post occasionally to Twitter and Instagram. My Facebook is reserved for people I have met face to face and would share stories about my family and my personal life. It’s not for just anyone. I have a business page for clients and acquaintances.

Think before you post

It’s really just common sense. Parents need to know where their kids are, not the rest of the world. Be careful not to over share with the world. First initial is good enough. The world does not need to know your child’s name. Unless they are a prodigy, at which point the media will probably step in with their own rules.

So play safe. Social media can be a lot of fun but it can put ourselves and our children at risks that we didn’t have when we were kids. Life is a lot different. When I was a kid we used to play in the street in front of our house without supervision. I remember walking home from kindergarten but I don’t remember an adult or older child being with us. Maybe there was and I don’t remember.  Either way, life is FAR different now than it was 30+ years ago when I was my son’s age. Therefore need to be smarter and think more carefully about what we are doing and the risks we are taking.

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