Are Your Kids Into These 5 Unwanted Trends On Social Media?

Yesterday I picked up a friend’s child, who was returning from the week long class trip to Mumbai. As I listened to all the excited chatter of the tired but happy kids, one remark caught my attention.

Do you know you can’t click selfies at many locations in Mumbai? We tried to take photos at Bandra Bandstand and Chowpatty but the police stopped us. That’s so not cool!!”

I am sure all the parents assembled there sent a silent thanks to Mumbai Police who are trying to protect citizens from selfie-related risks.

The selfie craze has hit us all and how! The ‘click-and-share’ brigade can be found everywhere, merrily clicking themselves, and then uploading the best pictures to social media.  Kids have gone a step ahead and are uploading not just selfies but pictures that reveal a lot of personal information, which could compromise their safety, privacy and self-esteem. These sharing practices have even turned into social media trends.

Are your kids into any of these 5 unwanted trends on social media?

  • Selfies at risky locations: Kids often ignore basic safety in their quest to get a perfect selfie. So they pose in front of a moving train, lean from a building’s parapet or even stand close to an animal enclosure in the zoo to click a snap.
  • Body image challenge: Have an A4 size waist? Click and share the photo. Other popular body image challenges include the collar bone challenge and the finger trap test. Kids participate in these for the fun of it but may end up having negative self-image and/or facing cyber bullying.
  • Photos of passport/license/tickets: Kids get excited when they get their travel tickets, new passport, or even their driving license and often share them online, unaware that these documents reveal vital personal data like name, age address, background etc.
  • Videos of dares: Teens are motivated by peer pressure to take part in dares and share video snippets of them. These include over-speeding, binge-drinking, vandalizing etc. Such posts may have future consequences, including college admission and career prospects as individuals social page often becomes the first step in background screening
  • Clicks in no-photo zones: Photography is prohibited at many places of national importance like museums, art shows, air force bases and other strategic locations, but some children still click pictures, flouting all rules and disregarding legal consequences.

These are some undesirable and unsafe trends that need to be curbed at the outset. Posts that reveal name, location, date of birth, address, passwords etc. of self or friends can be misused by cyber criminals. It is important that we help our children to identify what are personal details and encourage them to keep personal details private and off social media.

Parents, here are a few tips for you to help your children follow digital etiquette:

  1. Be cyber-aware: Awareness is always the key. Find out whether your children or their friends are into selfie-clicking and careless sharing. Use real-life examples to explain the risks involved.
  2. Mentor your child: Educate your kids on the kind of posts they should not be sharing on their social media platforms. Explain the logic behind your rule and do not hesitate to stress that the smartphone is a privilege that can be withdrawn if rules are broken.
  3. Limit posting from smartphone: You can fix mobile net usage time by not getting your child an individual net pack. Remember to protect your devices with security software.
  4. Selfie etiquette: Just like you educate your kids on correct table manners/online etiquette, teach them good selfie practices. You may talk to them about unsafe location, no-photography zone, no-shaming pics, personal information revealing posts and no-tagging-without-permission.

New trends on social media frequently create a rage amongst children. Only awareness can help us parents ensure that our children are not caught up by an unsuitable trend and led off track. Therefore, STOP. THINK. CONNECT. continues to be the mantra that the entire family needs to remember and practice.


Keep Your Data Safe While Unplugging on Vacation

When you are packing your bags for a long weekend break or a family holiday, do you pack all your devices too or do you say to yourself “I will not connect to the internet at any cost. I am going to be unplugged this holiday?”

Many of you, I am sure, will opt for the latter as everyone needs some ‘me-time.’ But what about your smartphone and its security? A recent study conducted by Intel Security shows 54 percent of Indians surveyed are not willing to leave their smartphones behind while on vacation. What’s more, 38 percent who went on the vacation with the intent to unplug were not successful in doing so!

The global study by Intel Security, titled “Digital Detox: Unplugging on Vacation,” aims to better understand consumers’ digital behaviors while traveling and to help provide education on potential security risks. The study, which covered nearly 14,000 people across 14 nations, reveals that a huge majority of Digital Age Indians (84%) connect to the internet while on vacation. This leads them to use unsecured, public Wi-Fi oblivious to the potential risks.

Consider this, over one-third of those surveyed in India shared their personal data even when they realize that this will make them vulnerable, the highest amongst the 14 countries surveyed. Further, India ranked the second-worst globally in digital detox count, with 43 percent admitting they cannot stay off social media even during vacations. Hello, you are on a holiday remember??

Tourists are vulnerable, away from their regular environment, and cyber criminals could exploit these situations to hack phones, implant malware or read and copy data. So while an unaware tourist is happily uploading the latest holiday selfie or making online payments, a virtual thief might be quietly stealing sensitive data from the phone.

Hence it becomes necessary to know when and how a traveler can become the victim of a digital theft and pick up a few tips to stay safe during travels:

  1. Use a security software on your device: I put this on the top of my list. Just as you protect your laptop or computer, so you need to protect your smartphone too. I strongly recommend the use of a comprehensive security suite for this.
  2. Share over secure Wi-Fi for safe sharing: Yes, I know it feels imperative to share all that you are seeing and doing with your loved ones in real time. But why not enjoy every moment of your vacation and then share once back in the safe Wi-Fi zone of your home? This way, the cyber criminals will not be aware of your plans and locations.
  3. Backup your data: Storing crucial documents, photos, and other sensitive information in another place is important, especially if you’re accessing them away from your home network. Use a cloud-based service, or use an additional device or external hard drive for backup. These allow you to recover and take care of crucial errands if your phone should be stolen or compromised.
  4. Keep Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off: You do not want to be caught unaware by a cybercriminal. Connect to public Wi-Fi minimally and only if necessary, like say you need to send an urgent e-mail or check maps. Delete all public Wi-Fi networks stored after usage.
  5. Two-step authentication: In case financial transactions including netbanking becomes necessary, ensure you have multi-factor authentication enabled and change passwords and PINs once back home.

Enjoy your vacation, find your inner peace, and open your minds to the world. But ensure you keep your data to yourself, safe and secure.