This is April. She has a story and a warning for you. Her story is a very typical one. She adores using social media, and sometimes exaggerates. Her warning is that when you exaggerate on social media, it can lead to unexpected and unpleasant results. This is what happened to her.
When she started studying at a new high school, she found lots of new friends all at once. April is a very sociable person and she’s always had lots of friends in real life, so before she turned 14 or 15 she never even bothered updating her social media profiles more than once a month. What is the sense of writing something and sharing it with the same people you already see every day? It’s quicker to talk about it in person.
However, at her new school everyone was very active on their smartphones, whether it was taking pictures and selfies, exchanging messages, updating their profiles every hour, liking things, or commenting all day long. She set up some more social media accounts and started posting something every day. First it was pretty irritating, because she didn’t feel like sharing her personal information online.
But April isn’t going to tell you horror stories about how addiction to social media ruined her life. It’s not true. It’s a part of her life, but it’s not the only thing. She understands that this kind of attention seeking is not normal, but on the other hand, it doesn’t actually ruin your health, and maybe it’s just part of a fight against insecurities. But there is the other side of the coin to consider, which is the thing you’ve all heard about and probably find boring and think that adults overreact about. That thing is online security.
What dangerous info could you find in the profile of a 15-year-old girl? April didn’t even think about how much personal information might be found on her social media profiles. She thought that if you don’t put your real name or home address or phone number in your posts, you’re totally anonymous. WRONG. Actually there have always been online Sherlocks who can find all your personal data using just the stupid selfies you post every day. The worst thing is that this information can be used against you and your relatives, and cause you a lot of trouble.
One day, April’s parents told her some marvellous news. In the summer they were going to Paris. Paris, can you imagine! The Eiffel Tower, Montparnasse, Mona Lisa! Brilliant! The only thing her dad asked her to do was to not tell anyone the exact dates of their trip, because as he explained it was going to involve quite a long absence from home, and it could be risky to inform the whole world that they were leaving. She agreed, but…well, who cares! Try keeping this kind information from your best friends when they ask you about it! And so, soon afterwards, it was no longer a secret anymore.
And a trip to Paris was such a good reason to boast and get envious comments! April started taking pictures of every step of her preparations – from the new clothes she bought to packing her suitcase and the tickets she had printed out (obviously with names and a departure date). Everything was posted online and approved by likes. She made a record of herself checking in at the airport, took pictures of the plane and the clouds from above, and tagged herself at Charles de Gaulle airport. For the next two weeks, she reported on her every step. She even posted pictures of the food she ate every day! Her improvised travel blog garnered lots of success, and for her it was a moment of glory.
But you pay for every wrong step you take. After doing her last tag at the airport before flying home, she considered her job done, and relaxed. She was calm until they came home...and found their house half-empty. They had been burgled while they were away! While her dad was calling the police, all panicky, April checked her belongings and found out that they had taken everything valuable, even her 20-bucks stash. Horrible! The police came at once and checked the crime scene. She of course took a picture of the cops carrying out their investigation in her house – can you imagine what a story it would be online?!
They found certain indications that it was a well-known gang that specialized in burglaries while families were on vacation. The policeman claimed that as far as they knew, the gang members collected information on their victims through their social media accounts. “That can’t be right!” Her dad was incredulous. “None of us posted anything online about the trip! We were very careful!” Oops…April made a face that her dad noticed at once. “April, would you give me your phone?” What else could she have done? Here you go, dad! While he was browsing her social media apps his face turned red, pale, and then red again. And during this time she tried to become invisible – without any success.