Recently in Minnesota there was a news story about two teenage girls that had been kidnapped. A day later they were found in the basement of a man that took them and he was arrested and will go away for a long time. The story didn’t get that much air time because the girls were found so quickly but the local newspaper had a big write-up about it. The story was focused around and trying to highlight the digital forensics used to find the girls. It turned out that the girls had met their abductor on a social networking site, exchange many texts over several week until they decided to meet up and he kidnapped and imprisoned them.
That’s not what caught my eye about the story. What I focused on was at the end of the article the newspaper had a bullet list of Social Media 101: What Parents Need To Know. Protecting your children online to help prevent something like this in the future. I read the list and they are all fine suggestions but the paper and most media missed a chance to add more social commentary around it. Let me lay out some of the items on that list and lay down my point at the end.
- As a parent be familiar with the most popular social networks, no one can know them all but stay aware of the big ones.
- Use parental controls to block material you don’t want your children to see.
- Learn how to use privacy settings, understand how location tracking in photos, checking in, etc… can expose your kids.
- Talk to your children about what’s appropriate to share, consequences of bullying and what happens if they get bullied.
- Talk to your children about respecting other’s privacy by watching what they post about someone else.
- Monitor your children’s social media and internet use.
- Educate your children about scams, teach them to block users and report scammers.
- Teach them to report if they receive inappropriate material or requests such as porn, photos, requests for location and phone numbers.
- Don’t be afraid to be the bad guy and take away social access/phone for a while or making them change passwords.
- Watch for warning signs.
All those tips are just fine and will help any one that uses social media. As I read it I saw a common theme within all those tips, especially when it came to on particular bullet item. These tips are written for our ‘snowflake’ parenting society. The bullet item that slapped me across the face was – “Don’t be afraid to be the bad guy and take away social access…” What!?! Are you serious? This is what you call parenting.
I re-read the list a few times and I realized that this is what our society is, people raising kids that are not parenting. Communication is non-existent within the family unit. Apply this list to all of the world’s problems and dangers and you have the best solution parents have at their disposal…. talk to your kids. In the world of mass communication we do less communicating than ever before. Families don’t eat dinner together, parents don’t tuck their kids in and read them books at night, they don’t give time outs and take away their favorite toys when they behave badly and break the rules.
The story that this came from was a terrible incident and thankfully the girls are physically unharmed and alive. The list that had to be placed within the story shows there are major gaps in the American family structure and our inability to integrate technology within healthy communication lines. Stick a phone in their hands and they stay quiet. Why did you have kids then?
End of line.
Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure every day.