WhataNerdGirlSays and Internet Safety

internetsafety3

Creepy right?

For the past six months, I’ve been working as a nanny to two pretty awesome kids. They’re 13 and 11, super fun to be around and I’m seriously enjoying my job.

Of course, its not easy. They’re kids. The youngest is a high functioning autistic, which can have its difficulties. The oldest is a teenager, and that also comes with its difficulties. But the difficulties that I’ve had the most issues with are with her cell phone and what that all entails: dramas through text message, facebook, twitter, instagram and so on.

One thing I can say…I am so glad we didn’t have these when I was in middle school. Middle school sucked enough without adding all of those in there.

Because kids nowadays, they’re a whole lot braver than they used to be. Before, you had a few bullies, the brave ones that would get in your face and make your daily life hell. But now, now everyone can be a bully. When you can hide behind your computer screen, or your cell phone screen, you can say anything that you want, and there’s not a whole lot of punishment that goes into cyber bullying.

The reason I bring that up is because the girl that I babysit is constantly getting into facebook and instagram drama and it drives me insane. The amount of bad language that comes out of the mouths of these teenagers, the amount of times I’ve seen them tell each other to “f*ck off” is just incredible. Their entire lives are focused on their social medias, and they get some kind of kick of creating drama out….and getting a thousand followers, and a million “likes”.

And it drives me insane. I’m not going to lie, I like social media. I have a Facebook, a Twitter, an Instagram, and a Tumblr. (Not a Pinterest or a Google+, I don’t get those ones…). I understand the value of them, the real value. I use them to talk to friends that I don’t see very often, which is most of the time. When your friends are working, in school, married, or have kids, you tend not to see them very often. People live far away, family lives far away. I also use all of these to generate interest in this blog and in my writing. They are very valuable in the world of writing; most authors have all of these. It is perfect to help garner some interest and attention.

But these social medias….they are dangerous and I don’t think a lot of people understand this. These sites give you access to anybody and everybody in the world. And people are smart and they can gain access to you, your information, anything. You have to be careful. And I think a lot of people do not see this…especially parents. It amazes me the lack of discipline and safety that parents bestow upon their children in regards to the internet.

I have seen children of all ages on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and it absolutely baffles me. In all complete honesty, I don’t think you should have any of these until you’re an adult, eighteen years old. I feel kind of wishy-washy about 15-17, but only under supervision of a parent. There are CREEPERS out there, child molesters, men who want to see pictures of little girls and boys. And they have easy access to them when there are children creating facebook pages, not making them private, and taking pictures of themselves in suggestive poses, when they’re only twelve years old. Where are the parents in all this? Why are parents letting their children have facebooks open to anyone, letting them be friends with strangers online and letting them take pictures that show off their body parts when they are so young?

I have a cousin on Facebook who made a page for his kids, who are both younger than ten years old and I absolutely refused to become “friends” with them because I was so incredibly disappointed that this page even existed. Safety first and there is no reason on this earth that a child needs a Facebook page. Facebook doesn’t help in homework in any way, shape or form, and I don’t see any other reason a child should be on the interest unless its for homework, or maybe playing child-safe games.

This drives me insane. This upsets me and disappoints me to no end, and this is because I’ve dealt with a danger on the internet. I had a hacker, a stalker, making my life hell for a few months. I felt scared, and I felt like there was no way I could escape. This person, this anonymous person, kept finding their way back to me. It wasn’t long before I had to go to the police, and even higher than that, in order for it to stop. My Facebook pages, my Twitter, my email and my tumblr, even this blog, has all the precautions necessary to keep myself safe. I am an adult, and I do everything I can to make sure this happens. No body who is my friend on any social network is someone that I don’t know.  I know every single person and it will stay this way. My safety above all is the most important, more than likes, or followers, or even my popularity as an author, which is my ultimate goal in life.

And I sit here and look at all these children, these young teens, giving out all their information to people, gathering up thousands of followers on instagram, people that they don’t know. I see them taking pictures of themselves that show off their cleavage or their “abs” and posting them for those thousand strangers to see and I just want to cry. I want to grab these parents and go, WHY ARE YOU LETTING YOUR CHILD DO THIS? WHY AREN’T YOU PAYING ATTENTION?

I know parents are busy. I get that, I really do, even though I’m not a parent. I see it every single day. My dad, every single day, is responsible for six kids under one roof. And true, five of us are now over the age of 18, but we weren’t always. We’ve been living with him since I was 15 years old, and that’s really hard. My two youngest brothers are 18 and 15 and neither one of them has any sort of profile, except on Xbox and that is heavily monitored by my dad. My dad has taught me safety and for awhile there, I ignored it and it came back to bite me in the ass, big time. I was scared for a long time. Any time I get an email from someone I don’t know, I feel scared all over again. But I have done everything that I possibly can to make sure that I am safe. 

And I really want parents, I really want YOU to do the same. Be careful who you add, be careful with your passwords, be careful of what you post and what you reveal to people. This is your safety, and its important.

Make sure your profile is private. If you are concerned about your friends list, you aren’t concerned about your safety. If you really need someone to be your friend, you can find them. You want to make it HARD for people to find you. Make every profile that you have private. I can’t stress this enough.

Keep your passwords creative. Don’t use the same password over and over again. I know, its hard to remember all the different passwords because every single stupid website out there needs you to sign up with a username and password. I have mine written down, in a little notebook, that I keep hidden in my room. Don’t write them down in your wallet, or your phone, not even your computer. Make it as hard as possible for people to gain access to your profile.

Be safe about what you post. Don’t reveal things to people that you don’t want them to know. Don’t post your address. I see people checking into different places. If your friends list is only people you know, you have nothing to worry about; there’s nothing wrong with sharing with people that you’re at DIsneyland or at this restaurant or whatever. But if there are people on that friends list that you don’t know, do you really want them to know your exact location? I was just informed a few days ago from a couple friends I was chatting with online that they could tell, on Facebook, exactly where I was, down to the very street that I was on. Luckily my friends list includes only people that I personally know. But with these kids becoming friends with strangers, this is very dangerous. Do not create a location for your own house and “check in”; that’s a horrible horrible idea.

Don’t become friends with people you don’t know personally. Just don’t do it. You never know who you can trust, and for all those reasons that I listened. You don’t want strangers to know where you work, where you go to school, where you are at any particular time of the time. Again, kids are revealing all of this information on their social media sites and they are friends with strangers.

I guess my point is, we need to be more careful with what we reveal online, both with ourselves and our children. I’ve seen people my own age, my friends, become friends with people they don’t even know. We make friends with strangers, we share pictures of ourselves, intimate details and so on and we think nothing of it. And most people don’t have to deal with what I had to…but I did and I can’t stand to see people being so unsafe anymore. 

So this is my sort of plea to everyone out there, to please be careful on the internet. Please don’t make friends with people you don’t know or reveal information about yourself. You think you are invincible or because so-and-so is a friend of someone you do know, that its okay. Its not. Safety first. When you are harassed through email and facebook, through text messages and emails, when you have to block everything, when you have to worry about having any type of account online, you don’t take your safety for granted.

And parents, please please please, show some caution with your children. Maybe you feel like you don’t have the time, or maybe you feel like the internet is better than having them out there doing drugs, or drinking but you need to make the time to monitor this. This is your child’s safety and your children should not be on any form of social networking. And if for some reason, you feel like they should be, then you should monitor it, 100%. Become their friend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. and if they refuse, well, I guess they don’t have an account anymore. Your kids aren’t always going to like you; I can tell you that. But they are always going to love you, especially when they realize you’re trying to keep them safe. I can’t stand to watch these kids be so unsafe anymore so please do something about this.

I know I’ve rambled on for awhile but this something that means a lot to me. I believe in safety for everyone. I enjoy being on the internet and I enjoy hearing from you guys, and I enjoy sharing the things I love with people who love it as well. But never reveal anything. I can sit here and promise you that I will never ever be that person who takes advantage of you but anybody can say that, and you don’t know me. Share your thoughts with me, your thoughts on books and everything nerdy. Share your opinions on the topics I discuss. But never reveal more than that.

I have one thing I can leave you with: Safety. Always, always Safety. Safety First.

And if you have any questions on how to make yourself as private as possible on any sites, please feel free to ask. I can help and I want to help :)

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