The Bling Ring: Teach your kids about Internet Safety
Guest post by Brian Jones:
Brian has been writing about personal safety for years and is becoming increasingly interested in how security concerns in the online and offline world are becoming interconnected. Feel free to reach out to him on Twitter.
The Bling Ring Presents an Opportunity to Talk with Teens about Online Security
The Bling Ring, which premiered in theaters on June 14th, combines many of the things that teens love most: drama, fashion, rebellion and, of course, Emma Watson. Surprisingly, it also presents a great chance to talk with your teens about the importance of staying secure online. Here are a few crucial things your kids should know about using the Internet safely:
- Some Things are Best Kept Private: Personal information shared carelessly on social networking sites can easily pave the way for criminals of all kinds. In fact, The Bling Ring provides a perfect example of how criminals can use information from social media sites to their advantage. The move is based on the true story of an infamous group of Los Angeles teens, nicknamed the Bling Ring, who robbed the homes of celebrities, stealing expensive clothing and accessories. They stole more than $2 million of jewelry from Paris Hilton alone.
The burglarizing bunch managed this, in large part, thanks to social media. When celebrities posted online about where they were going (and when their homes would be empty), the criminal crew knew exactly when they should strike. Remind your teens that online words can have real-life consequences, and can even jeopardize the safety of your home.
- Social Engineering: Social engineering occurs when a person pretends to be someone who he or she is not, thanks to the anonymity provided by the Internet. This often occurs in the form of impersonation. The criminal will write a message and claim that he or she is in trouble and needs money. Social engineering works because it plays on the victim’s sympathies. Remind your teens that the Internet makes it easy for people to lie about their identities and misrepresent themselves. It is a good idea to always maintain a little skepticism when interacting with others online.
- The Dangers of Online Bullying: Emotional well-being is often overlooked in the conversation about online security, but it is too important to forget. Cyber-bullying is a new type of harassment that has become all too common. Cyber-bullying makes it easy for bullies to target their victims behind the safety of a computer screen with a less immediate threat of punishment. Remind your teens that they can always talk to you if they feel threatened by a cyber-bully. You should also remind your kids that even if online bullying doesn’t happen face-to-face, it is still just as serious and hurtful as traditional bullying.
Because The Bling Ring is interesting to teens, it creates a good opportunity to talk with your kids about online security. A few simple precautions can help keep the Internet a safe, fun and valuable resource for your family.