Stranger danger in the 21st Century

It’s a reflection of living in a virtual world that we spend so much time on the World Wide Web. We can conduct our whole lives on there, whether we’re shopping, socialising, gaming, job hunting – even dating. It’s convenient and it offers a wealth of opportunities we simply wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. But with convenience comes some inherent risk.

I have taught eSafety to hundreds of children, and you’d be surprised how savvy they are. So much of what I told them was old news.

“No, of course you don’t talk to strangers. You wouldn’t do it in real life, why would you do it online?”

“No, I would never give my home address to someone I don’t know.”

It makes you sleep better knowing your kids are safe online. After all, they’re digital natives, they’ve never known a world without the World Wide Web, so of course they know what they’re doing. However, what about the information they don’t know they’re sharing?

Take a look at this image. A typical Facebook profile – one which, for argument’s sake, we’ll assume is public. How much do we know about Evie from this snapshot of her life? Look harder. We know her name. We know her age and her date of birth. We know what school she goes to, what year she’s in. We know she goes to a dance class on Sundays – and we know where it is and when she’s there. We know her mobile number. We know she walks to school. We know the route she takes. And we know we goes alone.

The World Wide Web is an amazing resource, and the way in which social media brings people together is nothing short of revolutionary. But remember Evie’s profile, and ask yourself – who is your child sharing their details with?

About the Author
John Bolton spreads his time fairly evenly between writing, working in special needs education, and sleeping. He lives in an historic Devon town where he keeps all his belongings, writes, and pretends to play the piano.

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