Children who are born in this digital age of social networking start using Facebook, YouTube and MySpace at earlier and earlier ages. Their friends make them think this behavior of putting your everyday thoughts and activities online are fun and a “sharing” games. Children include their birthdays, the towns they live in, their family members names and photos, home/cell phone numbers and other personal information. The more friends you have it seems the more confidence you get because you feel popular. The truth of the matter is that millions of children and teens are setting themselves up to having identity theft in their future.
The way it works is that your child posts data like birthday days and years, school they go to, towns they live in, etc. This seems innocent to them and they think it’s no big deal. This data is easy to find and retrieve by anyone who wants to hurt them. Face it anything you put on the web, no matter how good the security settings are, it can be found and used unlawfully. Identities of these kids are used to create fraudulent identities and sold in the black market. Unfortunately, by the time the child finds out about it years later, it’s too late, damage is done. How do they find out? When they get their first credit card or car loan for example and apply for credit and can’t get any because someone used their identity and racked up unpaid debt in their name.
Anyone who’s had their identity stolen knows to clear their credit takes years, expensive lawyers sometimes, especially if there’s criminal activity done through their identity and they will have a heck of a time getting their credit cleaned up. Kids, teens and even some adults are giving up too much information on these online sites. If a friend can see it and you have more than one friend visiting your site, your information is not secure. Assume people can get it if they want it.
A false sense of security is felt by most people who use social networking sites. Photos are also trouble for most people. Photos may say one thing to you but a whole lot of something else to a future predator or future employer. For example, we like to take pictures of what we consider fun and funny so we can share with our network “friends”. Does that include alcohol? You may not have had any alcohol when the picture was taken, but if there are bottles of Jack Daniels, shot glasses or cans of Budweiser in people’s hands or in the picture, your future employer may disqualify your application for employment. College students especially are guilty of posting all kinds of drinking pictures or using pictures that are crude, lewd and distasteful to show off to their friends.
What if you are 21 or over, but in a picture there are underage students partaking in the room where there is alcohol? You could have committed a crime by serving under age students. Whether you did or not doesn’t matter to the onlooker, it’s what they perceive is true. You probably won’t get that chance to fight your case. Your resume will just be tossed in the waste basket.
As adults with life experience, we have seen a revolution of digital greatness. Paying bills online and doing away with stamps, applying for jobs online and not having to type resumes on special paper and mailing them out, even grocery shopping online with grocery chains like Peapod make grocery shopping fun again. Most daily essentials we don’t even have to leave the house for anymore. If they can figure out how to get kids to their after school activities and dropped off home again, well that will be the cherry on the cake and long awaited. But, being smart is thinking before you add anything personal to your online experiences. Make sure only your eyes or your banking institution will see the most critical collateral you have. Privacy of personal pictures and data means keeping it off of Face book, YouTube, My space and whatever other networking sites are created in the future.
These college students coming out of school have a tough battle along with the rest of the unemployed America to get their foot in the door of a prospective employer. What is here and what will catch on depending on the type of work you look for is having the human resource director who is interviewing you ask you questions about your online activities. They want to know what you do online and test your honesty. Now keep in mind anything you have posted on Face book, YouTube, My Space is easily accessible by whoever wants it. If you lie about your activity, you will not get hired. What if they ask you to log into your face book and show them what is on it? Would you if it meant getting or not getting a chance at a job? This is what you have to look forward to.
Updates to hiring practices are being re-written every day by companies, to include online networking activity and behavior. they want to know who they are hiring and this is the best way to catch you in the act. It was once easy to just create a good resume and sell it to your prospective employer. Now, your prospective employer has a whole dossier on you, what you look like, your family, your habits, types of people you hang around with and more.
Think of every future employer being the FBI, where they can get and will have gotten all your online postings prior to calling you in for that interview. Scary? This is the truth so get used to it? Don’t say you were never warned. There are warnings about this activity all around but, we pick and choose what we want to hear. We often think, “That won’t happen to me”. Well, why are you so special, that it happens to other people and not you? Why not heed to the warnings and correct your behavior to give yourself a fighting chance to getting that job you want?