General Question

Fred931's avatar

Should my folks be this concerned for my safety on the Internet?

Asked by Fred931 (9399 points ) October 6th, 2010

I understand how passing someone on the web details such as your address or phone number is dangerous, and that’s why I wouldn’t do it. I understand laws of Internet use that apply common sense, such as pornography.
However, my parents generally think about my use of the Internet with more weight than those of many of my peers, in and out of school, according to them. I have no rights to social networking sites and my computer was even previously monitored by the WebWatchers service (which they no longer use). They are often concerned about my posting of very basic information, such as the city and not the specific location where I live in, or even my age. You can probably find a handful of other 15-year-olds living in Fairhope, AL, but it isn’t like a crazed man will hunt me down now that I’ve mentioned those two facts about myself by shotgunning every resident in town until said loon finds me.
They don’t even appreciate my being on Fluther itself.
I know the Internet is a dangerous place, and I’ve been almost perfectly strict about the rules they set for me when I was younger, but, really, my age? I remember an MMO targeted for children under 10 which encouraged exchanging of that sort of information.
I can live without Facebook, but only because I’m not social and wouldn’t use the site anyway. Even if I did want an account through a social networking site, I can’t imagine even letting myself get away with posting a phone number without crying to mom & pop.
I do believe part of the added concern from the two is that my mother is a pediatrician, or, so to speak, she sees every child in the area on a weekly basis and always has 15 minutes to talk with other moms about parenting. She’s probably heard (or even seen) countless horrors about how the Internet has torn this kid’s life apart or how that kid learned how to grow pot from this and that, etc.
I would like to know what the community thinks about this regardless of the fact that I’d probably never even show my parents because (a) they don’t approve of Fluther and (b) they don’t (or won’t) approve of what I’ve already posted.

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19 Answers

Seek's avatar

I wish I can remember who said it… but one Jelly said something like “the only real identity protection we have on the Internet is the statistical likelihood that no one cares about you”.

Every single time you log on, it is possible to track down your exact location through your IP address. All a person needs is the appropriate software and a little knowhow.

In this day and age, there are so many people on so many sites, using so many different methods of access, that it would actually be easier to put on a clown suit and hang out at the park if they wanted to trap a kid. You’re statistically more likely to kill yourself as a backlash from kids bullying you for having overprotective parents than you are being kidnapped because you told someone on McDonalds Happy Meal Land (dot) Com that you’re 14 and live in Alabama.

Jabe73's avatar

I think you need to be careful with giving out your email address as well. I heard that someone can track you down just by that alone. However today in the age of the internet, instant communication and identity theft I guess you have to worry about everything, or die from stress worrying about everything.

Trillian's avatar

“I have no rights to social networking sites” This is true. You have some rights, and some priveleges. Access to computer networking sites does not fall under the “rights” category. ”...and my computer was even previously monitored by the WebWatchers service.” So? As long as they are held responsible not only for your continued health and safety, but for anything you do, they have not just a right but an obligation to be aware of your activities. It’s too bad more of the parents of your peers don’t have the same attitude. Maybe your parents could give a class.
Not to mention, I’ll bet that the parents of this nipple head wish they had been more vigilant.

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YARNLADY's avatar

From reports that I have read, the biggest danger from online communications is when minors are coerced to face to face meetings. The instances where someone traced the location of a child from online sources and then abducted them as extremely rare.

Nothing is completely safe – even with all the security our family uses, our personal information was inadvertently released by a third party.

You should be glad your parents care enough about you to even have rules, but those rules should be consistent with level of danger and the amount of responsibility you show.

Fred931's avatar

@Trillian I understand my parents should be monitoring what I should be doing & telling me what to do, but the question was whether or not they are going beyond the call of duty with the kinds of restrictions they are placing on me. Of all the friends in school and extracurricular activity I’ve met, only two or three haven’t been surprised that I didn’t have a Facebook, let alone not being allowed an account. Also, it was needless of you to have corrected me about the difference between a right and a privelege. You are correct in saying that it is a privelege to be allowed such access, but it was an understood what I meant when I said I had no right.

@YARNLADY I am especially glad that my parents taught me such rules, but they have not reflected my growing age through such rules since I was about eight, and they, especially my mother, don’t have a very clear understanding of how the Internet works and what information in particular can be used against myself. Of course, it could be the other way around in that my age can be used to bring a predator to my doorstep. I’m the student here, teach me.

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YARNLADY's avatar

@Fred931 Probably some sites on internet safety for teens could give you some tips and ideas to use in a conversation with your parents. Also see How to talk to parents

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t think your parents are wrong for being protective of your internet habits. Just from this post alone, we know how old you are, what city you live in, and what your mom does for a living. It may not seem like a lot, but if someone really wanted to find you, they probably could.

Trillian's avatar

“the question was whether or not they are going beyond the call of duty with the kinds of restrictions they are placing on me.” And I answered you when I said; ” So? As long as they are held…” yadda yadda yadda. Did I not make that clear? I am in a position to know a bit about young people and internet risk behaviours.
I was thinking you just wanted various opinions.
” I would like to know what the community thinks about this regardless of…” So I just said what I think. There are will be some who think perhaps differently. You can wait for one of them to post, but I have no intention of arguing the points with you. Sorry.

rooeytoo's avatar

I wonder what the actual incidence of children or teens or gullible adults of any age being targeted individually on the internet? Such a big deal is made of it but when you consider the gazillions of people using the net and the number who actually get duped, it can’t be a particularly large percentage.

I would worry more about you doing drugs or drinking alcohol and many other real dangers than telling someone what state you live in. As @Seek_Kolinahr says practically anyone who really wants to can find you just from your ip address or email.

augustlan's avatar

I’m pretty careful with my kids’ internet usage, but not as strict as your parents are. We’ve allowed the oldest two (16 and 15 today) to have facebook accounts, but they have to friend us, and use the proper privacy settings. Also, they have to give us their passwords on demand. (Very, very rarely demanded… but if we do, they have to cough it up.) And of course, they’re also members here. Basically, we have to be able to see what they’re doing, they’re not allowed to have computers in their rooms, and they aren’t allowed to ‘friend’ people they don’t know in real life without our permission. No giving out phone numbers, addresses or last names unless we pre-approve it.

All of the computer privileges they have now have been arrived at by baby steps. We try to have their responsibilities and privileges grow along with them. The ultimate good news is that no matter how strict your parents may be, in three years you’ll be in charge of your own life and can make good decisions on your own.

Seek's avatar

^ I like all of your rules, @augustlan. Of course, I like your kids, too. ^_^

thekoukoureport's avatar

The most wonderful thing about the internet is that anything you could ever want to know is on the internet.
The most dangerous thing about the internet is that anything you could ever want to know is on the internet.
You can’t UNSEE something. I tell my kids that they only have one chance to be 15 or 13(depending on which) so try not to make those adult decisions yet.

alovehangoverr's avatar

I think if someone is really intent on tracking you down on the internet, they’re going to do it.

That being said.. I can understand, to an extent, your parents reaction. A lot goes on in these social networking sites—not just predators (& trust me, a 15 year old is HIGHLY ATTRACTIVE to predators—younger children might be a target for pick ups, but young teenagers can set up meetings with these predators & deliver themselves), but internet bullying is a huge issue all over the news right now.

I can also understand them not being comfortable with you releasing the actual city you live in. Are there other 15 year olds living there? Absolutely.. but if they have a picture of you & any other info you may have let out, finding you just became a whole lot easier.

So, my question to you is this: what exactly are you wanting to do on the internet that they’re not allowing you to do?

You’ve pointed out that there’s really no reason for you to have a Facebook account.. so.. what else are you interested in?

To be honest, my parents were not alright with me having anything other than an email account & instant messenger account where I would only chat with my friends on when I was your age. I mean, what else do you really need at that age?

Fred931's avatar

@Seaofclouds I went ahead and tried searching for pediatricians in the city she works in and did easily find mine, but I’ve never even given my first, let alone last, name intentionally (My Gmail wanted to show it off for a few seconds, so I set the fields to null) to a public site (Anything not a purchase or other protected form), and there are at least 10 other docs that aren’t my mother. I did see a bit about her educational background, and not much else. I searched her at Anywho and there were no results, other than two unrelated people elsewhere in the state. My father didn’t show up in Anywho, either. That info isn’t identifying.

@rooeytoo And consequently @Seek_Kolinahr This scares me to an extent. I’ve heard from people like @johnpowell that exposing an IP address shouldn’t be dangerous, so much that he even posted his own for all to see in his response. What gives? (No, I haven’t given mine out like he did)

@augustlan I like how you gave privileges gradually to your children as they age. Mine just gave me a few before I was 10 and basically have stuck with those. I only have an e-mail address because I was in the IB diploma program last year, and one of the reqirements was a Gmail account to sync with the calendars the teachers provided. I’m also proud of how much better you are at keeping an eye out; my parents had stricter rules about usage, but they fall out from beneath and become “reimplemented” a few weeks or months afterwards, such as the rule mentioned about keeping the computer in a public space. I guess “concerned” was a much better word choice than “strict.”

@thekoukoureport I frequent TGPForums.com, which is for my specific make and model car (The website exists just for it because it has non-monetary value). I found out that day that TGP doesn’t just stand for Turbo Grand Prix…

@alovehangoverr My likeness has never appeared online, unless someone has ever decided to post a weird picture of myself I didn’t know existed on a site which I never visit.
I don’t understand why my peers are always playing with Facebook primarily because I’m simply not socially active enough for me to appreciate the capabilities of the site. Of the things I DO like doing on the web, one of them is Fluther.com. Very helpful and useful, but my parents just don’t like it. Definitely to do with the occasional language and NSFW questions.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Fred931 You may not think it’s very identifying, but if someone really wanted to find you they could. It’s very easy to call a pediatricians office, act like you are a parent that just moved to a new area and you are searching for a new pediatrician for your teenager and you would prefer someone that had kids that age so that they could relate to your parenting issues as well. Either way, it really doesn’t matter because as the others mentioned, your IP address is trackable as well. I still don’t think your parents are being overly strict about their rules.

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