We are all part of the sharing generation – from Instagram to Facebook and more. But have you ever realized that the amount and what you share can put your family at risk? What signals are you giving prying eyes to your life to make it easier for thieves and predators?
Here are a few risks I’ve rounded up that you may not have thought about, and some alternative options:
Risk #1: Names on Backpacks
It is adorable having your child’s name on their backpack, gym bag, shirt etc. But – and here’s the sad part – predators can use that to act like they know your child. Instead of opting for the name stitched on the outside of the bag visible to the world, have it placed at the shoulder blades or use a luggage tag clipped to the upper loop of the bag.
Risk #2: Car Family Stickers and Bumper Stickers
I LOVE looking at family car stickers and bumper stickers. You can learn a lot about people and their lives and get in a few laughs. For example, your family of stick figures. Let’s break it down – the dad dressed in a military uniform means he’s gone a lot, mom holding shopping bags means she’s a big shopper, Jack in a football uniform, and Jill in a tutu means evening practice times and Saturday recitals and games. Your puppy and kitty mean you have to be home to feed them daily.
The bumper sticker saying “I love my Chihuahua” says it’s a smaller dog but barks a lot. “I love my _____ School Honor student,” says where your kids attend school. Pair this with the names under the family stickers, and you just gave away even more. The parking pass for work and home say where you work and live, although you have to have those. Just take a minute to look at what your car says about your family.
Risk #3: Posting Schedules Online
Posting school, work, or weekly schedules is a great way to see if you match up with others. But, it can give prying eyes a road map to where and when you are going. Instead, message people directly or keep the post vague. Recently with back-to-school season here, a friend posted her weekly lineup with all the kids’ sports and clubs listed; a few had times and locations. She was asking for easy meal ideas, but ended up giving away a lot of personal information online. Instead, she could have said, “with three kids in clubs and sports this fall I need easy meal ideas, who can help?”
Risk #4: Vacation Posts
We all love sharing our new adventures and travels. When we go on trips we need to be wise and not advertise that we are gone for 10 days road-tripping across the country. This flags that no one is home and that the house is open for picking. Growing up we had a family friend steal from us by taking all the silver coins from our 5-gallon glass water jug we used as a piggy bank. To do that they had to know we would be gone a long time. Rather than posting every moment or day you are gone, do a big dump when you get home. If you do want to share while gone, post older photos or videos.
Keeping our families safe and avoiding risk has us thinking in all kinds of directions. What tips can you share?