Sharing the fun and creativity in my world and encouraging the same in yours.

In this day and age, everyone wants to be a writer and wants to publish, whether that’s being an author, a journalist, a blogger, or simply informing people of your weekend plans on Facebook or Twitter.  This can pose some interesting questions.  One in particular jumps out at me.

With so much online writing happening, is this keeping our children safe?

Mashable’s Josh Catone posted this article today:   “Why Facebook Timeline Is Made For Its Youngest Users [OPINION] – http://on.mash.to/nEKRuO“.

At the end of his post, Catone proposes a new mantra for Facebook’s Timeline, if it is “embraced by the youngest generation of Facebook users”: “help people communicate and record their lives.”

Personally, I don’t believe teenagers think they are recording their lives.  I don’t think they think at all about that fact.  Catone is correct, I believe, when he says older Facebook users won’t want to “fill in the gaps”, in fact, they may want to delete some posts.  But the youngest users won’t have to do that on Timeline because they’ve already recorded almost their entire lives (without knowing it) and will continue to do so not realizing the consequences of their actions.

Teenagers and pre-teens, in general, don’t think twice about sharing every single aspect of their lives online.  Their brains aren’t capable of logical and considerate choices until they are in their 20’s, with some exceptions.  They don’t comprehend that the world is watching and simply don’t understand the impact of posting their personal data online until it is too late.

You know the scenario: a teenager runs off to another country to meet their “soul-mate” who turns out to be a 50+ yr. old man looking for a slave or a fun time….or far, far worse.  Or a lonely teen goes to the park to meet with their online buddy to look at their baseball card collection, only to be kidnapped…and worse.

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Bottom line

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It is highly dangerous to post your locker’s combination, your whereabouts, your schedule, your name, your school’s name, your city/state, your hobbies, clubs and after-school activities, and yet you see children (pre-teens and teens) posting their specifics and photos on their Facebook walls every day.

At this point, I have to ask: Is this Timeline feature really necessary?  Is this keeping our children safe?  Or is it just making it easier for people to stalk other people, and helping to create circumstances that could lead to trouble?

Shoot, even adults post too much personal information online, not realizing the consequences of revealing their detailed schedule or family information until it’s too late.  Remember the instances of people’s homes being broken into because they posted on Twitter and/or Facebook and/or their blog that they would be on vacation for the next two weeks?  Thieves love that kind of information!  And those photos you posted of your dog or cat doing the “sweetest thing”?  You don’t even realize that in the background of those photos, the thieves can see if you have anything worth stealing. 😦

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Facebook is NOT for me.

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I, for one, can’t stand Facebook. I tried it for three days and hated it.  I didn’t find it user-friendly at all; I didn’t like the look of it (still don’t), and it wouldn’t allow me to change my user settings and name without first verifying/confirming through a mobile phone with text messaging abilities.

Don’t hate me, but I don’t have a cell phone.  I don’t have a need for one.  I work from home, and don’t travel much these days.  It would be an added, unnecessary expense.  Anyway, I sent Facebook an email stating that I don’t have a cell phone, so could they please verify my account some other way?  I NEVER received a response nor any help from them.

To me, that clinched the deal.  If they weren’t going to help me with this simple dilemma, they weren’t a company I wanted to deal with at all.  I went about trying to delete my account.  This proved very difficult to do.  You have to really hunt down this information.  There is information about making your account “inactive” but that’s not what I wanted.  I wanted to DELETE it.  The fact that they seemed to be hiding that answer again reaffirmed my decision to not have anything to do with Facebook.

I finally found online instructions from someone else who wanted to delete their Facebook account and had to dig for it.  Thank you!!  Soon after, there were all sorts of issues that cropped up with Facebook changing its users’ privacy issues and settings without notifying them and I was so glad I didn’t have to deal with any of that.

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How much is too much information?

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I know for some businesses you have to post your name, and maybe your photo, or some people say you “should” but you can still be tactful and careful.  Don’t post your children’s names, ages, and photos.  Don’t post where your local hangout is: playground, bowling alley, park, swimming pool and don’t post when you go there!  **facepalm**

Perhaps I’m too cautious but shoot, I figure why make it easy for the sickos and borderline sickos out there to find you and your family?  Even before the Internet, someone could find you but at least they had to work at it!!  And, you were pretty darn sure that that someone lived in the same area you did (easier to track down in case anything happened).  Nowadays, that person could live anywhere in the WORLD, and have contacts anywhere in the world, including your home town!  That’s a bit scary to me.  You see, I’ve had stalkers in my life…before the Internet.

And, it begs me to ask these questions of Zuckerberg:

Don’t you feel any sort of responsibility for keeping a child’s activities/lives private and safe?  It was obvious you made this Timeline feature in response to your girlfriend’s younger sister’s usage and her friends but did you ever think of the consequences?

In my opinion, children between the ages of 1 and 17 don’t get the right to choose what information they post to the world, as far as their safety is concerned.  It is not only the parents’ responsibility but, I feel, the adults’ responsibility within their community.  Why make it any easier for them to reveal themselves to the world when they don’t comprehend the consequences of doing so?

In today’s world, the world is their/our community, so I think every adult should be wary and keep an eye out for our children.  Isn’t Zuckerberg 27 yrs. old?  Unfortunately, maybe he doesn’t realize this either, and perhaps, he won’t…until he has a child of his own, especially a daughter…posting photos, personal schedules, locations, and events on a Timeline-like feature for all to see.

What do you think?  Should this even be a consideration for programmers and developers when they’re considering online features for teenagers and pre-teens?

As a writer, blogger, Tweeter, Facebook user, do you consider any of this when posting information online?

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.

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Comments on: "Facebook’s New Timeline Feature: Is This Keeping Our Children Safe?" (2)

  1. Oh my goodness, I try not to include any extra background in my photos because my home is very cluttered. A CSI group would spend more time here than they spent on Ted Kaczynski’s cabin. My street address is what keeps me from using ‘mailchimp.’

    I like FB but I am a gr-up. I do not understand Twitter.

    Child safety is a great topic. Never put your child’s name on his or her backpack. Strangers can call them by name. Teach them to run in the opposite direction of the perv van because those guys can’t back up.

    My son is homeschooled and off the grid, by convenience, but just yesterday I had him mail himself a letter so we can go down and get an ID made for him.

    We have nothing that really proves he his who he is and that is strange for a 17YO.

    Now, tell me all the bad things I just disclosed here that might have put me and mine in danger!

    I have been stalked, too.

    Thanks for the topic!
    Sally

    • Hi Sally!

      Love your comments. When we first moved into our home, after we had unpacked & initially arranged our rooms, I took photos of all the rooms to see if I needed to rearrange the furniture. I was shocked when I saw a bra lying across my bed and a few things on the floor or on the bureaus. I swear they weren’t there when I took the photos! LOL Oops. As far as children’s safety is concerned, I’m so glad our son is an adult now (we made it! Whew!) but I am still hyper-vigilant when it comes to anyone’s identity and personal information. Thanks for commenting! 🙂 ~Lisa

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