A guest article by Dawn Altnam.
One thing I’ve learned about over the past few years is the importance of social media safety during vacation time. Social media is great, don’t get me wrong; I’m a regular user of social media and I allow my kids to use it, too, within reason. But there are times when kids and adults can unknowingly put their home at-risk for burglary. With that in mind, here are a few online safety methods I use to keep my home safe while on vacation:
• Put social media updates on hold until you return. It’s possible that you and your kids have gotten in the habit of posting updates so often that you do it as if it were a normal part of your day. Do yourselves a favor and take a break from social media while on vacation. Posting updates while you’re away can raise all kinds of red flags and alert would-be burglars that your house is empty. Instead, put updates on-hold until you’re back home.
• Turn off “locations.” Many social media sites have tools that can add information to your social media profile page or updates. One of the most popular apps is the “locations” feature. This feature detects where you are when posting and adds it to your updates. Turn off the locations app if you have to post so your location isn’t revealed. • Don’t share vacation details. As exciting as it is to go on vacation, avoid announcing your plans on social media sites, and ask your kids to do the same. Would-be burglars look for information that can help them find their next target.
• Talk with your kids. Before vacation, I sit down with my kids and explain the reasons why we want to avoid social media while we’re away from home. Sure, they roll their eyes a bit, but they also want to return to a safe house. Unless you’re open and honest with your kids, they may not realize the potential dangers of social media.
• Know who you’re “friending.” This should be the most obvious method of preventing unwanted attention to your personal plans, but it’s one a lot of people overlook. You might think it’s harmless to accept a friend request from someone who lives in your hometown or who you went to high school with. But if you aren’t at least acquainted with someone who sends you a friend request, decline, and tell your kids to do the same.
I don’t know about you, but I like to come home to a house that looks exactly like the one I left, except for a little more dust than usual accumulating on the furniture. Do yourself and your kids a favor, and talk to them about online safety, social media use and the way they affect the safety of your home. Then, once you return, the kids can update their preferred social media sites with favorite photos or stories about vacation.