Jill's post this weekend really got me thinking about how safe have I been with my kids online? I know my settings are very high on Facebook (which is where the bulk of my pictures are stashed) and on purpose I don't use my children's names on this site because I do have a few pictures of them on here. I took a look at my blogger profile just to double check that my location was vague (it is) and that my name was just my first (it is). My mom (gotta love it when God speaks to Grammas!) was also prompted by Jill's experience to check up on my kids' safety online. The one thing I didn't think about was my regular blog. She's right. It doesn't take much for anyone to link this site with any other blog I write. My regular blog does have more pictures, names and identifying details in it. Hmmm, all of a sudden it didn't feel as good anymore. My blog was created for me to share with family and friends. Who else is looking at it? I didn't want to be extreme about it and erase everything I'd written these past number of years, but I didn't want it all left out there for whoever to track down. Fortunately, I remembered that blogger does have the ability to create permissions under its settings. I went into that and changed the permissions to by invitation only can read this blog. I feel a lot better now.
The thing is, is that I should know better and thought that I did. I don't have a Flickr account because I knew that it was too easy for just anyone to scam my pictures from it. Pretty much anything else I join online has high privacy settings set on it. I like that the internet allows me to easily share stories and pictures with friends and family who live in other parts of the country. We just have to be smart about it. There is a way to balance safety and fear. To enjoy what is available to us without being afraid of it.
A couple of years ago, we were fortunate to have a leading expert in children and teen internet safety come to speak to the school district I work for (I am a teacher). Her name is Parry Aftab and she was one of the most interesting speakers that I've heard. I would really encourage all parents to take a look at her site "Wired Safety" (just click on the words). I hope you find her work just as helpful and insightful as I have, no matter what age your children are, there is something there to help you out.