By Art Wolinsky


September 21, 2008

bff.JPGWe tell our children not to share personal information online. That’s the right message, but often we are giving it for the wrong reason. Adults often think that sharing personal information is an invitation to predators. While that my have some truth, research shows that predators don’t use that information to track down victims. It also shows that kids who want to avoid predators generally do so and handle online strangers appropriately.
So if we are giving the right message for the wrong reason, what is the right reason? The reason for not sharing too much information is actually something that children can relate to and accept than the stranger danger message. Sharing too much information can lead increases in cyberbullying, trouble with friends, trouble with school officials, trouble with college acceptance, or trouble with future employers, not to mention trouble with the parents of boy friends or girl friends.
For an activity that you can do with your children or conduct with your class visit “Put Your Best Foot Forward”, one of my Adobe Presenter, Cyber Safety through Information Literacy lessons at WiredSafety.
But there is another part to this important message that is often overlooked. Sometimes your best friend forever (BFF) can be your worst enemy. You might be safe and not share personal information, but that’s not enough. You have to make your friends aware for the dangers of sharing and make sure they don’t share any of YOUR personal information.
This Flash animation illustrates my point. It may be a little over the top, but we produced it with our tongue planted firmly in our collective cheeks. You can also download the essence of this blog and the animation in PDF format as a message you can present to teens to help make them Cyber Safe and Information Literate!