Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Why Strangers May Know Where Your Children Are

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Oct 03

Posted by Jim_Daly Oct 2, 2012

At the risk of alarming you, this is something you’ll want to know.

Whenever your youngster uses their phone or computer to access the Internet, there are businesses out there collecting, analyzing, dissecting and selling the details of their use to other businesses.

For example, if your daughter posts a photograph of friends on Facebook, it’s possible for certain technology to determine the exact location of the snapshot. Such finite details can be valuable to companies trying to market to teenage girls.

As of now, this type of “data-mining” is legal and growing in popularity.

The more trusting sort might not be too concerned given the business rationale for this practice. After all, there’s nothing nefarious about Coca-Cola (just an example) collecting information on the location of teenage soft drink consumption.

But what if this information was to fall into the wrong hands? Is it possible that it could be utilized for the worst of reasons?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC, which has oversight on this type of business practice) is expected to revise the law in an effort to protect children’s privacy. Because technology is expanding so rapidly, existing law was conceived long before young children possessed items like mobile phones.

As our children grow and expand their reach, there’s a certain inevitability to an increase in risk. It might exasperate the young mom to always keep a hand on the strong-willed child in the supermarket. But by the time that same young mom has teenagers she might long for those days of easier oversight.

So what’s a parent to do?

Keep the conversation going with your children. If they’re utilizing mobile technology it’s always a good idea to discuss boundaries. Remind them of its expansive nature and the fact that good intentions can be easily exploited by people they don’t even know – or might never see.

We can’t expect our kids to live in a bullet-proof cocoon and we can’t shield them from everything, but we can help them develop a growing sense of wisdom and discernment.

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