Do you Facebook your locale when out with your kids? Are you posting that you’ll be away on vacation? Are you texting non-stop or doing work on your mobile device instead of paying close attention to your children (or your driving)? Here are four ground rules to lay down for yourself when it comes to social media safety.
Don’t make yourself so accessible
If you’re one of the 800 million+ people on Facebook, then, as a parent, you need to be aware of just how much information you’re providing to the whole of cyberspace. “Digital cameras and some smartphone applications can link a photo or social media post with an actual map location,” says Adrienne Kallweit, private investigator and president of SeekingSitters. “Anyone who sees the photos or clicks the status update can find where you are at that moment.” So reconsider your participation in Foursquare and always think twice about on-the-spot Tweets and Facebook updates.
Keep mum on travel plans
You can share that you’re planning an adults-only getaway, but no one needs to know your exact departure date. And no one needs to know that your teens will be home alone or left in the care of a babysitter.
Better yet, keep the whole excursion a secret and simply post an update and photo when you return saying, “Surprise! We managed to get away on our own!”
Never announce that you’re alone in the house
Hubby out of town on a business trip? Go ahead and whine to your friends privately, but don’t use social networking outlets to broadcast your solo time with the kids. No one needs to know when you’re going to be the only adult around. “Social media alerts can be just as bad as letting a stranger into your home,” says Katie Bugbee, managing editor at Care.com.
Put the mobile device away while driving
We are all busy. We are all multi-tasking. And social networking and mobile devices allow us to accomplish many things at once. But they’re also putting us and our families at risk. You don’t need to answer that call or email alert when you’re driving with your kids in the car. Make it a rule for yourself that your mobile device is off-limits whenever you’re driving -- wherever you’re going can’t be so far away that the call or text can’t wait to be addressed.