If you – or your kids – need another reason not to overshare online, a new study may provide just that. Research done by The Co-Operative Travel, a UK-based travel agency, along with Co-operative Insurance, conducted a study in which they found that Twitter and Facebook updates containing details of vacation plans could put families at risk of theft. Based on the distributed survey used for the research, regular postings with any mention of trips, holidays, or going away usually come from teens, and this form of oversharing is a problem made worse with the frequent use of smartphones and Internet connections in hotels and resorts.
The study found that thieves scan social networking sites – most commonly Facebook and Twitter – to check if “people in their area of operations are out on a holiday.” The survey, which targeted 3,000 people, also found that 44% of people had Facebook friends or Twitter followers they had never met and 37% had no privacy settings to protect their statuses, posts, and updates. A representative from Co-operative Travel, Trevor David, said in a statement that “the traditional precautions people take to protect their homes whilst they are on holiday is being undermined by the growth in social media. This is particularly true for families with teenage kids, who perhaps aren’t as aware of the need to avoid telling strangers that your house will be unoccupied.”
So while it’s a difficult challenge to prevent kids and teens from sharing the family’s travel plans online, the best thing parents can do is talk to them about the dangers of oversharing and revealing too much personal information on social networking sites. Before, going away as a family meant making sure doors were locked, lights were turned off, and neighbors could collect the mail. Now, with the rise of social media, families have to make sure their Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking accounts are clean of any evidence of leaving the house alone so that they can’t be easily targeted because of the information they share online.
Do you share information online containing updates about your family’s plans?