Stalking Your Daughter

Yesterday I told my friend Brian, “I hope you don’t mind, I stalked your daughter last week on her Instagram account to see if she was posting anything dangerous.”

Sound creepy? I guess it is. Good thing it was just me.

Brian knows I research this stuff all the time, and my new book helping teenagers “think before you post” is coming out next week (kinda cool, the publisher just told me the books are in and have already shipped to my website and Amazon). So last week his daughter was my guinea pig.

The good news: so far she was being really wise with her social media activity.

WHAT SHE DID RIGHT:

  1. She only friended people she had actually met. I was one of her friends, so I was able to see her pics. Some naked 40-year-old pedophile sitting in his Mom’s basement in Cleveland was NOT able to see her pics. That’s a good thing. Young people waver on this principle frequently. They meet someone online and they never consider that the person is NOT who they think it is… but it happens all the time. That’s why whenever I address teens on the subject, I share them those stories– teens tend to remember those kind of stories.
  2. She never posted her location at home. Most young people don’t even realize when they breach this common-sense advice. They post a picture of themselves in their bedroom after getting ready for prom or something special. The location might just say, “Sacramento, CA,” but if you click on it… you can see exactly where they were on a map. Now that naked guy in Cleveland knows where she is. I stalked 5 other teens that day to see what I could find. Two of them– I discovered where they lived in less than 5 minutes (and I wasn’t even their “friend.”)
  3. She didn’t post a lot of selfies. Selfies aren’t bad, but sometimes selfies can become a little too “selfy”…if you know what I mean. Then there’s the pressure of, “why didn’t they like that pic?” or “did my arms look to fat?” In a world where teen depression is on the rise and kids are feeling the growing pressure to measure up, it’s nice when kids aren’t gleaning their self-esteem through the approval of others on social media. (It’s fascinating how many new studies are emerging linking anxiety, depression and social media.)

SOMETHING RISKY

  1. Brian’s daughter was good about not posting her location at home, although she did post a location at another spot she frequents. I was able to pinpoint this spot on a map—a place she returned to multiple times. That’s why I urge teenagers to think twice before posting artsy pics of their favorite mug at the Starbucks near their house before walking to their car alone at night.
  2. Brian’s daughter was good about this, but I found many teens who let all their friends see their location at anytime using “snapmaps” in Snapchat. Brian’s daughter wisely chose “ghost mode” which means no one can see you. This is wise for a 14-year-old, especially if you are like most 14-year-olds and you haven’t met every single one of your “friends” face-to-face. How many teens are truly thinking of the ramifications of everyone being able to see their exact location on a map at any time? (I’ll be posting more about Snapmaps soon.)

Do your kids have Snapmaps? Are they in ghost mode?

Have your kids met all of their “friends” face to face?

Have they ever posted their location in a vulnerable spot?

We need to engage our kids in continual conversations about wise posting in an insecure world.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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2 Responses to Stalking Your Daughter

  1. Nena says:

    I really don’t like prying on my kids’ personal stuff. It’s invasion of privacy. When I was a teenager, I hated it when people (my folks, especially) were snooping on me. So I know my teens don’t like it either. When I became a parent, I understood why my parents behaved like that, it’s for my protection. The problem was, they were not “open” about it and in my opinion, “very strict”. I realize how the times now is very different from my time because of this internet-run environment. My husband and I talk to our kids about dangers lurking in social media, and how to be responsible with what they post and share. That’s why I’m thankful that I developed this friendship with my teens. It’s not perfect but open communication helps build trust, respect and reliability.

  2. Nena says:

    I really don’t like prying on my kids’ personal stuff. It’s invasion of privacy. When I was a teenager, I hated it when people (my folks, especially) were snooping on me. So I know my teens don’t like it either. When I became a parent, I understood why my parents behaved like that, it’s for my protection. The problem was, they were not “open” about it and in my opinion, “very strict”. I realize how the times now is very different from my time because of this internet-run environment. My husband and I talk to our kids about dangers lurking in social media, and how to be responsible with what they post and share. Thanks for these additional tips. I’m thankful that I developed this friendship with my teens. It’s not perfect but open communication helps build trust, respect and reliability.

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