Safety First: Are You Safe from Online Stalkers? How You May Be Inadvertently Compromising Your Personal Safety

Just when you thought it was safe to send a photo….

I was so excited when I bought my first smart phone. I was one of those “bad” moms who never remembered to bring a camera along to the playground, birthday party or school events. Then, once I had a camera built into the object that never was out of my hand – voila la! – multitasking at its best!

What I didn’t realize was that the cute photos I took of my darling daughter on the swings at the local park and then posted to my Facebook page had, embedded within them, the exact longitude and latitude of where the photo was taken.

That’s right, any predator with the touch of a keypad would be able to tell which park my kids played at. If I posted several photos around town and at home, it’s conceivable that someone who the help of a bit of pattern software could predict my whereabouts throughout the day.

It’s called geotagging and what most people don’t know is the ability to “tag” the exact location of a photo is on all smart phones. What’s even worse is the tagging function is usually automatically enabled or the ability to tag photos not exposed as an option.

Getting the location information off your photos is critical – for the same reasons you choose not to post your home address on Facebook. Fortunately, there’s a great site, I Can Stalk U that walks you through how to disable geotagging on your particular smart phone.

Geotagging is just another example of how our children are growing up in a world with vastly different threats than what we grew up with. Whether it’s the issue of geotagging or sexting, our kids have to become more aware of how their online actions can and will effect them in their future.

Talk to Your Kids about Protecting their Identity Online

  • Images from their phone that are uploaded to Facebook or other social media site will stay in the virtual world forever for all potential employers and college admissions professionals to see
  • Sharing user names and passwords with anyone, including good friends, girlfriends and boyfriends, opens them up to having their reputations destroyed through fake postings or photos
  • If they have posted photos of themselves and are now facing “sextortion”, the threat from someone posting those photos in other places unless they agree to pose for other ones or be extorted in some other manner, they should report it to the proper authorities as it is a criminal offense.

Sadly, the good old days when life was simple are long gone. Today, our kids are facing so many more issues than we ever did. It’s up to us to help them become cautious and savvy when it comes to their protecting their safety online.

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About Alison Jacobson
Alison Rhodes, also known as The Safety Mom, is a nationally-recognized family safety expert, motivational speaker and coach. She frequently appears on national television discussing a variety of issues facing old and young alike including bullying, distracted driving and caregiving. She is the mom of four children, step-mom of another four children and the caregiver to her son with special needs and husband with MS.

Comments

3 Responses to “Safety First: Are You Safe from Online Stalkers? How You May Be Inadvertently Compromising Your Personal Safety”
  1. Bruce Sallan says:

    Your comment, Alison, that “the good old days when life was simple are long gone” so resonates with me. The job of parenting today is truly much more difficult as there is so much danger “lurking” out there. Parents can become TOO protective but some basic caution is always wise. I wrote about the same subject in my Boomer Parenting Tips (http://bit.ly/WebSafetyBTT) on BoomerTechTalk.com and the response was big. We are all worried about this. Our tips largely overlap but there can’t be too much discussion. Thank you for this informative and important article!

  2. thank you for posting this. Parents just arenot aware that with a GPS on, also on a camera phone will do this too. Talk to your teens about this for their safety.

  3. Vic Toria says:

    What if you have friends or family that always tag you in photos and you don’t want to be tagged. And you’ve told them, but they keep doing it.

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