Monday, March 17, 2014

Internet Safety and Privacy

Nothing is Free. I hear it all the time, "why buy it, you can get it for Free on the Internet?" The first thing that kids don't understand is that the Internet is not free. Someone is paying for that Internet Access, and the only place you can get it for "free" is at the Public Library... but guess what, the tax payers are paying for that, so it's still not free. If you access the Internet from your home, it isn't free, someone is paying for that access. It might be bundled into your TV access costs or your tablet or smart phone Hotspot costs, but it's still not Free. And all those Apps you are getting for "Free" and email and social networking, that's not free either, we're just not paying for it with our money directly. We are exchanging our privacy for these "Free" Apps, because data is being recorded every time you do a search, every time you use Google Chrome, every time you use your Social Networking or Email software, your information is being recorded.

Now, these companies are not recording your social security numbers or credit card data, but they are recording your birth date, your location, your search terms, your viewings, the types of apps that you use and the things that you buy. This Data Mining is BIG business and it's making companies millions of dollars.

I am a cautious but a somewhat willing participant in this game. I find that there are definitely benefits to me for them having this information because there is some truth in the searching that I am doing and the web sites that I visit and the behaviors I exhibit online; a truth that is about the things I buy. Where I diverge is when my pictures become public property and other people have the right to post my pictures where-ever they like. I get particularly upset about this when it comes to kids.

Kids seem particularly unaware of the permanent nature of the internet, but worse, they are completely naive to what can be done with their information or pictures. Editing tools and comments make sharing this type of information risky, and for young kids they really don't understand etiquette with regard to "only comment or say things online that you'd be willing to say in person." Kids find it so easy to hide behind their devices. Adults do also, but the kids are still forming ideas and need better guidance on these things. Adults need to behave more like adults.

Nothing is free. Your kids and all of us need to understand what we are giving up when we partake in activities online. It's not free, but the amount in which you are willing to pay with your privacy should be up to you, as the consumer, and the only way you can do that is by knowing/understanding what you are paying.

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