Using social media as conversational tools when you or your kids are away on March break is great – but it can also cause some security issues that you’re not taking into account.
Police and home security experts both say the same thing: travelers need to protect their homes and possessions while they’re away, and that means stopping some bad social media habits.
Teens and even adults are constantly “Checking In” to locations on Facebook or Tweeting and using Instagram for real-time updates on their whereabouts. Letting friends know you’ve arrived to your destination seems harmless, but what if you’re also inadvertently letting a potential thief know that your home is empty? Many people share their plans before they even leave, giving online spectators the chance to actually plan out a home invasion.
Pay Attention to Privacy Settings
- Many teens don’t pay attention to the privacy settings on their social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all have extensive optional settings to limit who can view the content posted. On Facebook, you can even make a status or post photos viewable to only specific friends.
- Keep an eye out for apps that ask for access to your GPS location. Unless it’s a requirement for your job or for use with directional apps, you should seriously question whether you want to give that kind of access.
Make Smart Choices on Social Media
- If your teen is staying home while you’re away, educate them about smart choices. If they’re tweeting that they’re home alone, that message could get to the wrong person.
- Don’t ever give specific dates when you’re tweeting or posting on Facebook about a vacation. Be very wary of the “Check In” feature offered on Four Square and Facebook – it lets potential thieves know without-a-doubt that you’re away from home.
- Monitor what your teen is posting whether you’re away or they are. They have a tendency to be sharing with large numbers of people, and you should ensure that they understand privacy settings and what’s okay to post.
- As a precaution, you should inform a neighbour that you trust about when you’re leaving and returning, so they can keep an eye open for any strange activity around your house.