Love Them, but Protect Them

Smart phones have expanded our universe to areas previously unimaginable. They are glued to our sides, and we can’t function without them. They must be no more than two inches from our bodies at all times. We are more efficient and more functional than ever before. We use our smart phones for just about everything. From navigating the globe and finding our friends to making restaurant reservations and playing games, these phones do it all. Thousands of useful applications make our lives and our children’s lives more enjoyable and informative. However, there is a downside.

We have had our privacy invaded by hackers, advertisers, and in some cases, the federal government.  We may have inadvertently exposed our children to risks that were unimaginable 10 years ago. Today, our kids are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and thousands of similar programs. We have allowed them to interact with people we don’t know, that may or may not be appropriate. We have seen movies and read articles about sexual predators who use social media as a method of reaching our children.

Can you remember 10 years ago when we taught our kids about “stranger danger,” telling them to never talk to anyone they don’t know?  Well, now, they potentially do that every time they turn on their phones or tablets. No matter where I go, I see kids of all ages using their devices as their main source of entertainment. Let’s look at some of the apps and check out the risk. One word of caution, though: Monitor their online interactions. Kids will hate it. They will accuse you of interfering with their lives, but the consequences of failing to do so could have catastrophic results.

Facebook is the most popular program in the world today. It has been brilliant for many people who want to reconnect with old friends or inform everyone about their daily lives. Unfortunately, it’s also used for political rhetoric and sales. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Don’t tell the world that you are going to Hawaii for two weeks, because that simply informs someone your house is available to be broken into by a thief. Am I overly cautious?  Probably. What was it our parents always said: “Better safe than sorry”?

Instagram is the hottest program lately, but sharing your pictures and your lives with hundreds or thousands of people you may or may not know is not always the best practice. Be careful about sharing your life with people that you would never have shared with before.

By Marc Cohen