Internet – friend or foe?

I was looking through my stats this morning and decided to check out the search terms that have brought people to my blog. Some of it is very interesting and due to the nature of my blog, most of those terms are harmless e.g. “Nick Vujicic quotes”, “Bethany Hamilton” and even “Don Charisma”. I have blogged about each of these people so it stands to reason. There are search terms relating to the book review that I did last year and some that are outrageously funny that I have no idea why my blog would even come up such as “You suck stinker yahoo”, “vertically challenged” and my all time favourite “If you fail a high school course”.

However this morning, there were three separate search terms that rang alarm bells with me and they were all about tween selfies. I put those terms into google and came up with my blog as the first port of call. That scared me however I’m sure whoever put the term in would have been terribly upset with the photos they found because I’ve purposely chosen unflattering photos of the Tween to share. (Not trying to make light of this but a little humour never goes astray). What scares me is that people out there are looking for the pictures that children are posting of themselves online and I’m here to tell you that some of those pictures are not appropriate.

The internet is a god send in so many ways. It is definitely the ‘Information Super Highway’ but as with any action – there is an equal and opposite reaction. Good versus bad. Whilst the majority of people in the world use it for the purposes of good – continuing education, communication with others, networking and looking for information there are those who use it for reasons of exploitation.

To say that this gave me a fright this morning is an understatement. I am very careful about not sharing too many personal details about my children and partner however I wonder if I should take the further step of removing photos of my daughter from my blog? The subject of her selfies is something that causes amusement within my family however there are obviously people out there who see it as something else.
Or perhaps I am over reacting and the search terms were merely put in by a concerned parent researching things in order to educate their own children or doing research for a university paper … or something like that.
I don’t know.

However, I do know that whilst the internet is wonderfulΒ  – there is a much darker side.

Advertisements

65 thoughts on “Internet – friend or foe?

  1. There certainly is a darker side …
    I was mortally offended when, a few years ago, I posted a picture of me holding my sister’s newly born baby in my arms on Facebook with a congratulatory message, and she made me take it down. I thought she was being very unreasonable, as the post didn’t have any identifying features, such as the baby’s name, which hospital she was in, etc. Anyway I dutifully but resentfully removed the picture. The “no pics on the internet” ban remains in place.
    Now I find it’s common for parents to not post any pictures of their kids, unless they’re wearing masks etc, and try to ban their kids from posting selfies (good luck with that!). One thing parents can do to make selfies safer is ensure the kids’ phones are set so as not to record location data within the picture itself. Apparently predators can use this data to work out where teens go and what their habits are (e.g. “she’s at Such-and-such Mall by 2pm on Saturdays”). This is easy to change: usually Settings –> Location and then de-select the appropriate button.
    There are sites which teach predators how to obtain and use this data from phone photos, so I’d strongly suggest to anyone that they change this setting on their phone.

    Like

    1. Hi Bree,
      I think I’m beginning to understand the reasons why your sister has requested this. I recently went through my FB account and deleted a lot of photos.
      Since she doesn’t have a phone and most of her selfies are taken and posted with my camera or her iPad, I’m hoping she is safe. She posts a lot of them on Instagram but we have made sure that the settings have been really tightened on that account so only her friends can see the photos.
      It’s sad isn’t it that the world has come to this.

      Like

  2. I don’t know what to advise. Whilst you know my real name, my kids have their father’s name, which is nothing like mine. For myself, I don’t share any more personal info than a stranger I meet in a store might be able to figure out about me. The internet can be a dark place, but so can our own neighbourhoods. It’s a tough call.

    Like

    1. My Tween has her father’s name (nothing like mine also). I know when I write things, I rewrite and change to remove a lot of identifiers so I’m hoping all is good.
      I am going to change the blog post title and tags and see if that helps.

      Like

  3. Thanks for this interesting post Sue, I have never looked at the search terms that have brought people to my blog and will now go and investigate.
    Your post reminds us that just like almost everything in society there is a darker side that should be acknowledged. However at the moment for my use the positives of communication via the internet outweigh the negatives. Love Jenna πŸ˜‰

    Like

  4. Just to test out some things I was writing about I plugged my niece’s name to see what came up. There was a church bulletin and school articles and those were acceptable. THEN variations of her name found my niece, with photographs, in other social media sites and she was claiming to be 19 instead of her true age of 14. I immediately gave the information to my brother.

    Good post.

    Like

    1. That is very, very scary. I’m glad you found that out although you would probably have been the bad uncle after that.
      I had to tell my SIL about some of the FB posts being made by my nephew once. Wasn’t pleasant but I think he’s forgiven me. lol

      Like

    1. I’ve thought about the photos and all of the ones of the tween I have shared have come from my camera so not very many identifiers on them.
      I am going to change the blog post title and tags though.

      Like

  5. A good reminder! Thanks Suz! Actually just sent this to kids to read πŸ˜‰ AND had a refresher course on internet (and reality) safety. We dont want them to live in fear – but – it IS actually good to put a little fear there to in still caution. AND WATCH and LOOK and LISTEN – to what is going on in their lives. CHECK the sites they visit – check friends lists – MY question here is – (and it is an honest question – ie – not smart ass!! )
    WHAT will someone DO with the picture of your kid from your blog. I think you may know the reason I ask!! Same for You tube vids?
    It is a tough call really as so so much of ALL our lives is on the internet.
    Sons rule: no friends online unless you or I know them in reality – speak to others – that is OK – pass it through ME! (gaming sites are a nightmare with so many people on them)
    I swear – I folks only had to worry about us when we LEFT the house…we have to have our eyes in the back of our heads ALL the time right.
    Anyhow – we have to live our lives – real and virtual – in reality we have to follow certain precautions – so we should in virtual – I was taught as a kid never to stick to predictable routines with my movements. Walk home from school a different route on different days – at different times. Don’t go to the shop at the same time everyday etc (Lord no wonder I have issues with routine!! lol!) But it WAS essential at that time and place I grew up :/

    Like

    1. You ask what someone can do with pictures of your kids they find on the internet, so I just thought I’d jump in (hope you don’t mind!) and mention that predators can use date and location data embedded in picture files to figure out places your teen has been. Apparently there are sites which tell predators how to do this. Then they can build up a picture of a young person’s habits, where they go at different times of the week, and use this info along with their name to meet them and groom them. It’s possible to set most phones and cameras so this data isn’t embedded in the digital picture file. On most phones, go to Settings –> Location.
      Hope this helps.

      Like

      1. It does indeed help many I am sure (myself included) –
        Thank you very much for all of that πŸ˜€
        I have spoken again with the children – though it is a frequent occurrence anyway about their personal safety.- just to be sure. (can we ever truly be sure though)
        I keep a close watch over these little ones – some do not have that privilege.
        These sites you speak of – I wonder how it is legal and if reporting them if we find them is of any consequence?
        Rhetorical question right! (unless of course you know the answer πŸ˜‰ )
        Thank you very much!

        Like

        1. Sorry, I don’t know the answer πŸ™‚ and honestly, I wouldn’t know where to find them – I’m just passing on information I saw in a news bulletin on this topic. If I did come across a site like that here in Australia, I think the Federal Police have an email address I could forward the URL to, but I’m not sure. Anyway – the more you know …!
          πŸ™‚

          Like

    2. I’ve had a couple of issues in the past with the Tween’s Instagram account that luckily her sister picked up on. Kids really don’t understand the ramifications of all this.
      I had a big talk with her back then but I’m going to have to have another one I think – just to be on the safe side and make sure she is still sticking to the rules.

      Like

  6. Great post Suz! I’ve been thinking recently about changing my personal Facebook settings to private for this very reason. If they aren’t a friend they can’t see your stuff. My kids tag me with pics of the grandchildren often. I’ve had friend requests from people I don’t even know! I write under a pen name so it’s not people looking me up through my book. That’s why I have a different author page. Thanks for the push to get this done!

    Like

    1. I’ve tightened my security on FB so that only friends can see photos and not ‘friends of friends’.
      I’ve had messages come to me on FB from complete strangers also. Some are downright weird.
      But the interesting thing is that I sat with a friend one day whilst she tried to find me on FB and she gave up, so I don’t know how they found me lol

      Like

  7. Thanks for the interesting post. The internet really does have a dark side. On the other hand, life on the ground also has a dark side.

    My children, even though they’re mostly grown, still freak me out. They’ll post details of where they’re going to be at what time and put it out there on social media, along with all the selfies. I don’t know what scares me more, the potential danger of putting it all out there for complete strangers to access or the fact that they don’t seem to understand that there is a need to protect yourself. I mean, something really changed in the last 10 years. People no longer even seem to consider why some privacy might be a good thing. It’s as if privacy is no longer even a part of their world anymore.

    Like

    1. I think it is because they have grown up with instant access to everything. It’s scary though isn’t it?
      I’ve seen posts by some of my nieces on FB that really make me scratch my head.

      Like

  8. It’s the quandary isn’t it? Friend or foe? I never post photos of my son or husband on Facebook, they are not on FB and they haven’t asked to have their photos posted, so I don’t. Much as I’d like to show them off, believe me, it’s up to them if they want to share themselves with the world. Scary stuff though, Suz

    Like

    1. Agreed. As I said to another commenter, I’m going to change the post title and tags and hopefully any identifiers to make things harder. The photos were taken with my camera so there are no location settings in there thank goodness.
      The other photos on my blog were all taken in cities away from where we live.

      Like

        1. I actually just googled my Tween’s name and found her Pinterest account, You Tube account and Picasa account. Will speak to her about the picasa account but the only photo in there is of a sea gull (thank goodness). When I clicked images, I found only one photo of her that I took many years ago and rendered artistically. Every other photo appears to be from Dance Moms lol

          Like

  9. Tell me about it Suz! Ugh! I got sucked into a Time warp and lost 3 valuable hours of productivity thanks to the oddity that Tumblr has become for me. Then I discovered 283 pieces of Russian spam, most of which came from 1 source, a porn site…suddenly new ‘followers at Tumblr’ who I didn’t know from adam, I figured they were source of it…then I saw LinkedIn was afoul in not connecting my posts properly…what a useless harangue. And, God, you would FLIP if you EVER saw the ‘search terms’ I find!!!!! Just think about that a minute, hon….twisted and disturbed would begin to scratch that surface, but only lightly…
    ACKKKK!

    Like

    1. Never tried Tumblr and wouldn’t even know what it is.
      You know the truly scary thing CJ – knowing what you blog about my mind is reeling at some of the twisted terms that might bring someone to your blog. That really is scary stuff.

      Like

  10. One of my addictions was online gaming. It almost ruined my life. I have to be mindful in how I use the Internet. Just like bad parents….the Internet doesn’t teach us how to use it or be respectful of it. I learned the hard way but I’ve learned balance, and I think that’s key and for me to stay away from MMO games.

    Like

    1. When I first got the internet I used to spend hours in chat rooms. I soon learned that most people in there were only interested in one thing although I did have some great conversations with some people.
      It’s hard to learn the balance isn’t it Laura? I used to spend hours just playing games (not online though). It really does become addictive.

      Like

      1. Umm yes, most people online in those chat rooms have ulterior motives and some just like to chat it up. Sighs…life is about balance I’m finding out. i’ve never been one very good at balance, but I’m learning! I stay away from those games now, focusing on my hobby here. It’s a whole heck of a lot more healthy, not to mention fun! πŸ™‚

        Like

  11. If I found these search terms on my blog and had a teenager, the thing I’d be worried about is if my child was putting up picture of him/herself that are unappropriated. My opinion is that if you trust your daughter, it isn’t that big of a deal. If you’re started to have trust issues with her, it’s time to get to the bottom of it. Remember this is just my opinion. Your judgment, I’m sure, is keen.

    Like

    1. She doesn’t post on my blog and any photos were put up by me. She sometimes comments on my blog but doesn’t have a photo in her gravatar and calls herself The Tween.
      Thanks for your thoughts Glynis. πŸ™‚

      Like

  12. Thank you for sharing this learning experience … I never think to check those search terms. I ws initially chuckling but you’ve made me aware that I need to look deeper!

    Like

    1. Some of the search terms are downright hilarious LB but when I saw those ones, it was really scary.
      When I put those exact search terms into Google – that scared me even more.

      Like

  13. It is scary what people look for! The internet is such wonderful tool. It’s also a paradise for perverts and evil. It’s sad that we can’t even post pictures our kids to share with our family members and friends without being afraid of how those pictures may end up in the wrong hands. I’m very careful about what I put up on the web, especially of my son. On here, there are no pictures of anyone in my family. Now on Facebook there are many, but technically they’re available to Friends only. The scariest search term I’ve had so far was something like, “Pretty Little Girls”. It could be innocent, but the thought of what it could also be, is very frightening.

    Like

    1. I agree. The search terms I found could have been put in by someone researching something but they could have been put in by a pervert. That is really scary to think of.
      I have some photos on FB because it’s a way to share with family I don’t see that often. And technically, mine are only available to friends only too.
      Isn’t it just the way of the world though that something as great as the internet has been corrupted?

      Like

  14. I could get into enough trouble growing up without the benefit of technology. Like anything else we do in life, follow a few guidelines and we’re usually okay. Before anyone jumps on me and says it was safer 50 years ago, well, it wasn’t. The sad fact is people didn’t talk about perverts as much. Then as now about 75% of offences against children were perpetrated by close family and friends.

    Like

    1. Nobody here jumps on anyone Laurie so don’t worry on that score.
      And I’m not surprised you managed to get into enough trouble when you were younger! I’ve read your stories lol

      Like

      1. Either I’m looking in the wrong place, or my blog isn’t found. There weren’t any search terms. I’m a little bit sad. Maybe I’ll have to tinker around some more with my settings. I change one thing, and I screw up others.

        Like

          1. I looked there. It says no search terms. In fact, I think if I want more people reading my posts, I have to write some more interesting or inspiring posts. Or…I need to not post so often? Or…just be me, and not look at the numbers. πŸ™‚

            Like

Don't be shy... Share your thoughts :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s