Alternatives to Fear

Following up on that last post, in addition to the study summary, the Consumer Reports article includes, at the end, after all the scary stuff, nine ways to protect yourself online.

Most of them make a lot of sense, and not just on Facebook.

Think before you type. Even if you delete an account (which takes Facebook about a month), some info can remain in Facebook’s computers for up to 90 days.

Regularly check your exposure. Each month, check out how your page looks to others. Review individual privacy settings if necessary.

Protect basic information. Set the audience for profile items, such as your town or employer. And remember: Sharing info with “friends of friends” could expose it to tens of thousands.

Know what you can’t protect. Your name and profile picture are public. To protect your identity, don’t use a photo, or use one that doesn’t show your face.

So, why aren’t we teaching that stuff in school? Helping kids understand how to build a responsible and safe online presence.

As to the uproar over “cyberbullying” on Facebook elsewhere in the article, isn’t one child bullying another a concern regardless of where it takes place?  Bullying occurs on playgrounds, in locker rooms, and in malls. We don’t ban playgrounds, close locker rooms, and impose age limits on malls.

The problem is with the people involved, not the location, and that is how the problem should be addressed. This is less about Facebook and more about the need for adults to pay closer attention and communicate with the kids in their lives.

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