At least once a week I see an otherwise intelligent teenager posting online that he or she is “psyched” about getting some “me time” alone at home. Sometimes it’s a photo on Instagram or a seemingly harmless little tweet on Twitter that says: “me and my bestie are chillin’ at home alone. I love my life.”
While this kind of post can often be code among friends for “hey, let’s do something,” to a predator, it’s also invitation—one that can be both dangerous and even deadly. The case files are expanding with crimes that all began with a teen over sharing personal details on social media.
As much as you’ve warned your child about posting personal details, don’t be surprised when they forget or let things slide. So say it, again, and again. Their daily safety depends on it now and long after they’ve left the nest.
We advise you memorize the “3Ws” and brand them into your child’s online behavior.
Never post online (either by words or photos):
- Whom you are with.
- Where you are (or are going).
- What time you will arrive.
If you feel like you are being repetitive in teaching your child these rules, treat that that “nagging” feeling as a good sign. It means you care and understand the weight of safety online and your child will be safer for it.
Because of her age and a general lack of wisdom and life experience, your child will likely never put the weight on personal safety that you do. So don’t look for her to fall in step with the 3Ws as a measure of its success. Keep checking her social activity, and chiming in when needed. Basically, keep being a mom. Keep being a dad. Keep being a guardian. Your child’s safety depends on it.