By Sergeant John Weaver, Placer County Sheriff Department.
Practice safety by protecting your privacy
Never give out personal information, never.
Legitimate companies do not ask for any type of personal information unless you are filling out an application or purchase request initiated by you. All the rest are thieves “fishing” for information.
Watching out for the children on-line.
Be mindful of the information your child places on Facebook or MySpace accounts. If a child puts name and hometown on their web site a bad actor now has half of the information needed to find them – as your child will also post pictures of himself/herself in front of your house. No biggie, but what if your house number is showing?
Now this person has name, town, house number and a picture of where you live?
What if your child puts up a picture of them in a softball/baseball/football uniform?
Name, town, house number, picture of house, sports team and/or what school someone goes to…
Something to think about…
Would you freely give this information to a stranger on the street who walked up to you and asked you for it? Would you give this information to a stranger who calls you on the phone and asks for it?
Then why post it for everyone in the world (www = World Wide Web) to see. How hard would it be for someone to find you or a child if they really wanted to do it?
Do you see how simple pieces of information can add up?
Educate children not to do this. Here are some tips:
- Put computer(s) in common areas
- Employ security controls and lock features
- Install anti-virus programs
- Install and use Internet monitoring programs and/or child safety programs and key stroke monitoring
- If you allow your child to be on sites such as Facebook or MySpace ensure it is set to “private” (may not be viewed by the general public – must be invited as a “friend” to view) and monitor it. You must have your child’s password.
- Coach your child to only invite people you know in the real world to your pixel world (Does your child really have 2,864 friends in the real world?)
- Inspect your child’s site and/or computer for inappropriate content or use.
- Be aware children may have a legitimate site (for mom and dad viewing) and a “hidden” site (easily accessed from any computer with internet service)
- NEVER give out personal information. NEVER EVER. (I can not stress this enough)
- Educate your children and yourself about the hidden dangers and appropriate/inappropriate use of the Internet. Most Internet sites have safety tips and it would be wise to read them with your child.
As with the off-line world, none of the above are a “cure all”. It is simply the equivalent of locking doors, putting up motion lights, turning on the alarm system and not letting your children talk to the guy in the box van offering free candy.
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