Back to School - a time where every parent loves to take pictures of their kids heading back after a long summer vacation.
I get it; I am also proud of my kid and their growth and accomplishments but in the digital age do you stop and wonder if maybe posting pictures of your kids, or any relevant information about yourself on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. could be dangerous?
Being able to remember their firsts is always something a parent wants to do and sharing it with friends and family in a convenient medium is always a bonus, but just given the saying "Once it's on the internet, it's there forever." exists, that should give you pause and maybe think about the what's, the how's and how it pertains to your basic safety from a situational awareness standpoint.
Just logging into Facebook (or Meta, if you keep up with changes. I will still refer to it as FB in shorthand.) the subsequent few days after the start of the new school year and I spotted (with absolutely zero effort outside of being friends with folks I know on FB) a laundry list of information:
The children's First & Last names
What age they are
What grade they are going into
The name of their classroom teacher
The school they are going to
Favorite food, book, color, etc.
Distinctive characteristics (height (in relation to certain objects) hair color, style of shoe, style of backpack, face, etc.
Now, to most people, that doesn't really occur to them as dangerous - but think about how many times you have heard of folks getting their accounts hacked, or how many people who just accept friend requests from people they may not know (or do know and it's a dummy account with information pulled from an unrestricted FB account). Heck, think of your parents and their ability to navigate social media; do they even know they can make their accounts somewhat private and information only able to be seen by friends?
What happens if gram-grams FB is simply that; an open book for folks to see the information they re-share on their timelines?
I don't like to make things out to be super dangerous all the time, but with how freely your personal information is just open for all to see online makes it a dangerous precedent - you leave all that information out there about your kids and (definitely if you don't teach your kids about being aware of the dangers of predators) anyone who wants to spend enough time can become a threat.
Just from the bullet points above, if there would be a discerning weirdo poking through FB profiles, they could then easily approach those kids, relate to them with their favorite things and blammo - you suddenly don't have a kid to pick up after school.
It happens every day, even in the modern age where practically everyone under the age of 12 has a cellphone and the ability to record and report on anything and everything.
But why is that a potential threat to ME?
Most folks are stuck in this wonderful suburban mindset where they think "nothing bad will ever happen here; I have good neighbors, the streets are well lit at night, this isn't the sketchy part of town, etc." and don't apply the critical thinking portion of "bad things can happen anywhere, at any time" to THEIR lives.
Even in said day and age where everyone under 12 seems to have a cellphone and the ability to record everything except what is important (as well as just as easily put that same personal information up on TikTok), you have to then compete with what is generally called your "Normalcy Bias" when it comes to strange goings-on.
It is the simple cognitive dissonance where you downplay everything from pre-attack indicators to preparing for an imminent disaster.
But that's another article for another day - today we are talking about basic awareness of your information and security.
Let's talk about your vehicle - What are you projecting without realizing it?
Back to you, the adult; the responsible party and you being a proud parent.
Just by looking at the above picture that describes some typical things you can find on the back of any average person's vehicle. Your projection of your pride in the accomplishments of your children also conveys certain information to the discerning eye.
Someone looking for an easy mark can make a quick assessment from the myriad bumper stickers on your vehicle, follow you home, watch your basic habits over the course of a few days and pick the best time to break into your home and make off with your stuff, or worse.
Don't even get me started on the "Probably a free gun in this vehicle" meme.