This week in Australia, a 17-year-old girl helped her grandmother count her personal savings. Gazing at a pile of money and being 17, she quickly snapped a picture and uploaded it to Facebook. Within hours, masked robbers who attained her home address from her Facebook profile showed up at her house.
Although nothing says rob me like posting a pile of money, posting vacation plans could lead to the same outcome. Co-Operative Travel, conducted a study in which they found that 51% of children regularly updated their social media accounts to say when they were going on vacation. The researchers found it took seconds from seeing an update about a vacation to finding enough details to locate the home address.
Locking the doors and setting the lights on timers is useless if a teen is telling all their Facebook friends or Twitter followers the family is away. With 13-17 year olds having an average of 265 online friends, this is a lot of people who know when nobody’s home. Before booking the hotel, remind kids the dos and don’ts of sharing vacation plans and location online.
- Do not share details of an impending vacation. “I cannot wait to leave for Hawaii next Saturday, we will be gone for 2 weeks – woo hoo!” is never a good idea.
- Do share amazing summer plans just leave out specific dates. “Going to Hawaii this summer – woo hoo!” can still make friends jealous without alerting everyone to exactly when the house is empty.
- Do not share location or pictures while on vacation. Kids do not vacation by themselves. Their check in from the Waikiki Beach Resort may alert all friends, followers, friends of friends or everyone that the entire family is away.
- Do post pictures after vacation. Remind kids, friends will still be sufficiently envious even if they see the pictures after they return.
- Do use privacy settings. If they must share information, they should share only with their close friends.
And if an older teen stays home, remind them not to post that they are home alone. Even before social media, information about parents being out of town traveled quickly. With social networks it can spread farther and faster and no one wants 265 friends and their friends at the door.