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Why oh why are some parents so bloody ignorant about facebook and internet safety??

(23 Posts)
chicaguapa Thu 02-Aug-12 21:48:56

DSis commented on DN's facebook profile, so I saw that DN is now on facebook. That's odd, I thought, DN has only just turned 11!! So I went into DN's profile, saw her false date of birth putting her at 14, all her status updates and photos of her, her tagged friends and her younger brothers.


So not only has DSis condoned DN lying about her age to go on facebook, she hasn't ensured that the profile is secure and accessible by only DN's friends.

Now DSis and DN have clearly demonstrated exactly why DN is too young for facebook and shouldn't be on it. I emailed DSis to warn her I was able to access DN's profile and to change her security settings. She still hasn't done it!

DN is on Twitter too. <gives up>

Keepcalmanddrinkgin Fri 03-Aug-12 09:30:05

I think 11 is an ok age to be on Facebook but it really does need to be private. I also think your dsis needs to go through her friends list every week or so to make sure that she is aware of any people that your dn doesn't know in rl and delete them. She should also know all her passwords. I have younger cousins on Facebook (aged 10) because all the friends are on it and she was being left out. It's a private profile. My aunt checks her Facebook all the time for anything suspicious and my sister and I who are her friends would report of we seen anything bad or strange. I do think it's a bit young but that's just the way things are now.

usualsuspect Fri 03-Aug-12 09:32:28

I think 11 is fine for FB

usualsuspect Fri 03-Aug-12 09:33:39

She does need to up her privacy settings though.

chicaguapa Fri 03-Aug-12 13:54:24

A police friend of ours has been into DN's profile and put together a report of everything he has gleaned from it about DN.

DN has a list of friends who are all visible, the names could be used to narrow down her location in the UK and also as a reference when approaching her in the street “Hi DN I’m [friend]’s uncle” for example.

He now knows some of her likes and dislikes and thinks she's 14.

He now knows what her dog looks like, its name and that it looks just like [friend]'s dog.

He knows her close relatives are called [name] and [name] and they fight.

He has listed her status updates and that she has just had a holiday in [place] and listed some of the clothes she was wearing in her photos.

DN mum is called [name] who is married to [name]. He has her DSD work history and where he is currently working.

He could use all that “Hi DN, I used to work with your mum’s husband at [company name]”.

With all that information he could use websites such as to find out more information and pay a small fee to obtain DSis' and her DH's address. Or even simpler he could just follow her DSD from the office to his home, where DN lives.... shock

All information obtained in 20 mins using nothing other than information on an unsecure facebook page.

DN has only been on facebook for FOUR DAYS! And all that information was available to the public. Which clearly demonstrates that 11 is too young for an account. If they cannot keep themselves safe, they shouldn't be on it.

Giving an 11 year old a facebook account and justifying it by keeping a close eye on it yourself, is like having to hide in the bushes when your DC is at the park on their own. You don't let them go to the park on their own until they are aware of 'stranger danger'. You don't rely on other people to keep them safe, you teach them to keep themselves safe.

Unfortunately there are too many parents that just don't understand the dangers and intricacies of social media and that puts their children in danger.

Xenia Fri 03-Aug-12 14:01:10

Parents have very different views on these things and that is brilliant. We are thankfully still a free country.

However people including children need to make informed choices so the more education they have about this the better.

chicaguapa Fri 03-Aug-12 14:12:25

So who educates the kids (& their parents) about internet safety? The schools again? Teachers who make parents close down their DC's facebook accounts, only for the parents to let DC's reregister? Then the same parents come a-stomping right into school when their DC are being bullied by other pupils on facebook. hmm

The thread title was about parents not being aware of internet safety. Why the hell not? I am, what makes me different to the next parent? How come I know why it's dangerous for an 11 year old to have an unsecure account and others are completely oblivious?

usualsuspect Fri 03-Aug-12 14:14:09

Better an account you know about than a secret one

Happiestinwellybobs Fri 03-Aug-12 14:18:59

I think 11 is okay for Facebook, BUT, it needs to be a private account. Our friends' daughters have accounts, and whilst their parents are not 'friends', a family friend and aunt are. This works for them - they don't feel that their parents are looking over their shoulders, but the two adults would advise if they thought that there was anything odd going on.

amillionyears Fri 03-Aug-12 14:25:16

People educate other people.
You will educate your Dsis about some things,and she will educate you about other things.

chicaguapa Sat 04-Aug-12 08:14:53

Except that I showed DSis the info gleaned from the profile and she shrugged her shoulders. shock Still, I've done what I can.

People can get through Facebook's security settings. Even a secure account isn't 100% safe. Obviously the people trying to ram this message home are failing. I'm genuinely astonished. How does monitoring an account protect a DC from contact in the street, on the way home from school or in the park? From someone who has enough info on the DC to pretend to be someone they can trust or start to build a rapport with?

I still think some parents are being very naive and failing to keep their DC safe. Linking a profile to parents, aunts, uncles, cousins merely makes the DC easier to trace. I bet the perverts can't believe how easy the internet has made things for them.

But each parent to their own parenting priorities. I'll stick to mine and make informed decisions about internet safety, rather than think the 13 year old limit was plucked randomly from the air and Facebook cares enough about my DC to have impenetrable security.

If hackers can get credit card info from secure encryption, what chance does information leading to identifying children have of staying hidden from people determined to find it?

chicaguapa Sat 04-Aug-12 09:03:39

I think the point being missed here is that there is enough info on a Facebook profile to make your DC traceable in REAL LIFE. That means if someone has that information, they can get your address, read where they're arranging to meet their friends and get enough info to pretend to be someone they might know.

I'm not talking about suspicious contact ON Facebook. Do people not realise this has been taken OFF-line? Are parents really aware what information makes their DC traceable? Do they ensure that ALL their DC's friends have secure accounts too? Or is there one friend who has a photo of your DC or DN in her school uniform, thus identifying which gate to hang around outside of? Or even just a photo of themselves in uniform or a mention in a status update about the school, which links back to your DC?

My DN was on facebook for 4 days and in that time, through being linked to friends & parents had provided enough info to be tracked down to her home address and be befriended by a complete stranger masquerading as someone she was safe to know. Does this genuinely not shock people? Do you really believe you've made your DC safe because a stranger apparently can't access her profile because facebook's security settings are so highly advanced and sophisticated a hacker wouldn't be able to go into it and there's nothing on there or DC's friends' profiles that make them identifiable in real life?

Because while parents think that and remain uneducated about REAL internet safety, it's made easy for predators who prey on the DC who have an online footprint. And that's why I still believe there are some parents who are ignorant about the danger a Facebook account is putting their DC in. And they mistakenly think they're doing it right because they are monitoring online contact!

headinhands Sat 04-Aug-12 09:09:16

My neighbour knows all my kids names, their ages, their birthdays, their schools, their teachers names, their hobbies, what they look like and exactly where they live. I need to move don't I. sadgrin

headinhands Sat 04-Aug-12 09:12:51

I'm being crass but the point I am making is important. Educate the children about not posting addresses and not agreeing to meet people they don't know however trustworthy the person may seem. And to tell adults about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable online.

TantrumsAndOlympicGoldBalloons Sat 04-Aug-12 09:17:58

It's not about posting their address or things like that, I've seen a lot of DS friends posting pics in their school uniform, saying what school they go to, what year, what football team they play for, all things that would make it very easy for someone to find them if they wanted to.

I agree totally with the op but my dd has had a horrific experience with FB and people not being who they say they are so I guess that colours my judgement somewhat.

chicaguapa Sat 04-Aug-12 09:25:33

Does your neighbour know your DC's likes & dislikes, what they did last week and the week before that? How would you feel if the neighbour typed up everything he/she knew about your DC & family, description , photos etc and posted it to everyone they knew? Would you consider that a privacy breach?

You don't need to post an address on your profile. You can get addresses from for £5 with a parent's name and rough idea of location.

Yes, definitely educate the children, but educate the parents too. Because this thread is demonstrating that some parents simply aren't aware what helps predators trace their DC in real life and that it's a genuine threat to their safety.

headinhands Sat 04-Aug-12 10:45:43

Okay so you are saying that a pedophile from anywhere in the country is going to go to all that trouble and assume that just by turning up in the street and saying 'hi Sam, I hear you like 1direction' they've got a clear line in? No of course not so you have chats with your kids about how people make friends and when someone might not be as kind as they make out and all that Pedophiles have lived amongst us since time began. Educate the child the same way you would about keeping safe with anyone regardless of the medium they met by. Statistically a child's chances of being harmed by a complete unknown are tiny compared to those of a trusted family member or family friend. There are many people in my community who know more about my dc than your friend managed to find out about your dn just through observing my dc's movements and so on. Should I bundle them into a car under a blanket every morning and change the way I drive them to and from school? No, educate the child.

chicaguapa Sun 05-Aug-12 11:13:40

You only have to speak to people who work in child protection to know that this does happen. Anyone who thinks it doesn't is being very naive. It's about building a rapport with children so they no longer think you're a stranger. Grooming can take years, it's not something that happens overnight with one approach in the park. Giving someone access to personal thoughts and activities through the internet gives them more info to use for this purpose.

amillionyears Thu 09-Aug-12 15:06:58

Been away,so apologies for coming back so late to this thread.
chicaguapa,or anyone else,if she is no longer around,I feel I am personally still quite ignorant about internet safety.Would you say that it is vulnerable children that are more at risk from putting personal details online?
And are the real life dangers from it, "stranger danger",and financial hacking?

chicaguapa Sat 11-Aug-12 22:04:34

Hello. Still here. smile

I think the real life dangers are children posting information on their profiles that helps them to be located at school or home. It only needs:
- a couple of references to something that leads to a location and/ or a school photo
- just one friend who has an unsecure profile
- being linked to one/ both parents leading to info & address being obtained from the electoral roll or similar
- arranging social meetings online, so someone knows where the child will be at a particular time
- being tagged in a friend's photo to bring your DC to someone's attention

Through info gleaned about the child from their profile and friends' profiles, a stranger can form a rapport with the child over a period of time. Any child who walks home from school or is at the park is approachable. eg.

"Hello, you're [insert friend from friend's list], aren't you? I'm his uncle, nice to meet you."

Next time:
"Hello DC. How was your holiday in [place mentioned on profile]?

Next time:
"Hello DC. Did you have a nice time at [insert social gathering arranged on profile] last week?

And so forth. It's enough for the child over a period of time to feel the person isn't a stranger and to not apply the 'stranger danger' messages they've been taught since they were old enough to listen. People can play a very long game and parents are not with their DC every moment of every day to protect them.

I believe yes, definitely teach the children about facebook and internet safety, but the parents need to be fully informed too. It's about being aware that:

- It's not just about dangers of cyber bullying
- Hackers can still access secure info on profiles. I know parents believe they are acting responsibly by ensuring security settings are on their highest etc, but Facebook does not use highly sophisticated security encryption and once the info is out there, it's there forever.
- You can't control their friends' profiles and what they put on there about your DC.
- If the child has lied about their age, the person viewing the profile is reading it as if that child is that age. Comments that may be innocent from a 10/11 year old can be misconstrued if they are seen to be said by a 14/15 year old.

I think parents just need to spend a bit of time researching the dangers of facebook and internet safety before setting their DC up with a profile. It's about making an informed choice and making sure the DC is fully aware of what leads to the dangers too. Not just setting up a profile because all her friends are on facebook and you don't want her to feel left out. I agree that statistically they are more at risk from family and close friends. But if strangers didn't present a danger, we wouldn't teach them not to talk to them, would we?!

amillionyears Sun 12-Aug-12 13:28:12

Good points.
I'm all for having the computers in public rooms,if space allows,not secreted away in bedrooms.
A parents glance over the shoulder from time to time,would help stop some of the problems listed above.

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 24-Aug-12 21:38:54

amillionyears that only works until they get a smartphone ... or use someone else's computer ... or the one in the library.

ameliem Sun 07-Apr-13 21:46:53

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

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