Does it seem like a lot of young women and girls have disappeared lately? This week 11-year old Celina Cass was found in the Connecticut River. She was last seen in her New Hampshire home on her computer. We don’t know exactly what happened to Celina, but it seems she had an open Facebook account and some of her “friends” may have been of questionable character. Did Facebook play a role in Celina’s death?
Consider this scenario.
A young girl has Facebook and other social media accounts and although privacy settings may be blocking some content from strangers, there is enough information for someone with malicious intent to target the young girl. They can probably see her picture(s), her age, her hometown, her school. With a little research they can find out exactly where she lives.
The same day Celina was found in the Connecticut River I watched a TV crime drama with this scenario. A young girl is tricked into getting into a car with strangers after being lured to a location with Instant Messaging. She thought she was chatting with her best friend, but it turned out to be abductors impersonating her friend with a similar screenname. Fiction yes, but the premise for some young women and girls may be only too real. Like Celina Cass.
Celina was only 11 years old. She shouldn’t have been on Facebook at all. The minimum age to have a Facebook page is 13.
Here are some suggestions we should all keep in mind when communicating via social networks.
Use common sense.
1. Don’t say or show things you don’t want your boss or grandmother to see. Intimate life details or revealing photos should probably not be relayed to all your “friends” via Facebook
2. Don’t tell burglars and stalkers your current location. It’s probably not always a good idea to announce your location, or give a play by play of your vacation. Especially if you value your safety or the contents of your empty house.
Know your privacy settings.
1. Understand your privacy settings and be comfortable with who can see your profile and with what your share in your profile and on your wall. More about FB privacy settings.
Monitor your children
1. Eleven year old children should not have Facebook accounts. Teens should be monitored and coached as to what kind of information should be included on the FB page.
2. Children should be advised not to broadcast on FB when and where they will be somewhere. It gives predators easy opportunities. It’s better to share information about an event after it occurs.
Google “online safety” or “Facebook safety” for more information about using social media sites safely. Surfnetkids.com is a good resource for keeping kids safe online and this article addresses FB safety specifically.