The internet has become part of daily life for many people. There are some good things about it. I can check the weather, look up other information, see what’s going on in the world, and even order products I need without having to make a trip to the store. I especially like being able to order things I want or need from far away (like a favorite candy from my childhood that isn’t carried anywhere nearby).
Social media allows you to connect with some people you might not otherwise. In just a few minutes, I can keep in touch with friends I haven’t seen since high school, get news about family members who live far away, and sometimes find someone I wouldn’t have found in any other way. I can share pictures instantly, and see others’ pictures. It’s a good way to be social when you only have a little bit of time (which is most days). I like to visit people, but that’s only practical some weekends.
As convenient as the internet is, I’m amazed at how I see some people using it. I think sometimes people forget that having things that are shared can be a bad thing in some cases. I read something once that I think is a good guideline: act as though anything you post online is on a billboard. I know some people know how to adjust their settings to limit (at least in theory) who sees their posts, but it’s very obvious to me that some people don’t know how, or just don’t do it. I’ve seen things posted by people that really surprise me. I have some suggestions about using the internet.
Don’t over-post, especially about your kids – and nothing unsafe or embarrassing. I’ve read about stolen photos being used by other people for unsavory purposes. One woman was shocked to find that someone had copied photos of her child and was posting them as her own child, which is creepy. I can’t imagine seeing my child’s face on someone else’s profile, and having the photos labeled as being someone else. Even worse, I’ve heard that some photos are used to represent things without the person’s permission. Think about something that upsets you, and then imagine your photo or a photo of someone you love being attached to that, seemingly endorsing it.
Absolutely never post embarrassing pictures of your child. It’s bad enough when someone brings up something about your past you wish no one would remember (foolish things you said or did as a child, for example), or shows a picture you wish didn’t exist (like a really bad hair cut), but imagine if someone put a picture of you online for anyone in the world to see. I see it frequently. It’s not fair to the child, and could cause resentment. It could even end up hurting the child’s future prospects. I was surprised to find out that many employers look online to make decisions about hiring.
Don’t put things online about yourself that are overly controversial or depict you doing something illegal. Believe it or not, I’ve heard of people losing their jobs over things they post online. I work in the unemployment field, and have seen several cases of exactly that happening – and I don’t remember any of them being found to be eligible for unemployment, either. I’ve also seen cases of people getting arrested because they put pictures and information online that incriminate them.
I’ve heard of people even losing custody because of things they’ve posted.
I’ve heard of people’s homes being robbed because they posted that they were going on vacation. If you can’t stop yourself from letting the world know that you’re not going to be home, at least post a thank you to a non-existent person for staying there while you’re gone to watch the place.
I’ve seen people post horrible things about loved ones online. Please, don’t publicly announce to the world what you think of someone while you’re upset with them! It’s not fair to the other person, and when the two of you make up, you can’t take back the damage you’ve caused to the other person’s reputation. Honestly, I think less of people when I see them post horrible things about another person.
The internet doesn’t need to be a scary place, but we need to remember that it IS a public place. If you wouldn’t do something in public, you probably shouldn’t let the world know about it online either. People tend to give too much information out to anyone who bothers to look for it. All of this personal information can lead to a much easier job for hackers, or others who are looking for opportunities to take advantage of us.
There are some other guidelines for internet use.
Stop staring at screens when you’re with others, especially your kids. Not only are you ignoring them, but you’re teaching them to do the same with others. Be a better role model. I’ve seen people posting about missing important events because they were looking at their phones instead of what was happening around them.
No screens in the car/driving. Despite all of the warnings, there are still many people who insist on using devices while they are driving!
Also, make sure that you don’t pick passwords that would be too easy for someone to guess. Yes, many people use “password”, but many others use things such as their child’s or pet’s names. This would be fine, maybe, except these same people will post repeatedly about their child or pet. Anyone wanting to hack your account will first try the most common passwords and/or whatever you mention the most!
Remember, anything that is posted should be considered to be practically permanent, even if you delete it. Sometimes, things are archived, and other times, people could save things before they’re deleted.