Education, Thoughts

Templates on Instagram – Innocent or something more?

I came across a great teachable moment last night on Instagram, but this moment I woke up and felt that I needed to share it a little more widely…  Templates on Instagram – are the innocent, or something more?

Firstly, here’s the post:

krystalgagen Can we talk about these templates for a minute? I’ve been noticing an increase in templates that you screen shot, fill in, and then post on your Instagram story. While most of them are harmless, there are some that ask for a LOT of personal information. For example, this one is asking for your age, your birth day and month – put those together and you’ve got your full birth date. Add in your height, birthplace, and descriptive features, like eye and hair colour, and all of a sudden that’s everything that you’d put on a driver’s licence/form of ID!

I’m not saying that everyone that creates one of these templates is out to collect your information, but in today’s world of selling information and identify theft, we need to be super careful! There are some of these templates that are harmless fun, and while the creator of this one probably didn’t mean any harm, the minute you put this amount of information into the world, you put yourself at risk.

Don’t let this stop you from engaging in the Instagram or general online community! Just be careful about what and how much you share. Be smart, stay safe 💪

#adventuresoftheliftinglibrarian

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When I first saw this template I thought, “aww, that’s a bit cute.” And then I read it through properly and my heart stopped. I’m not exaggerating. I actually felt that thrill of fear, and experienced a spike of adrenaline as I saw what this template was asking me for. As I said in my Instagram post, the creator of this template might have created this with innocent intentions – you know, maybe they hadn’t fully thought through the types of questions that they were asking? But the cynical side of me, the part of my brain that assesses risks, couldn’t help but think: “this is the type of information you’d put on a drivers licence, a form of ID, a missing person’s report!” Put together the birth date and birth place, and if your profile has your first (or even in my case, first and last) name in it, then BAM! They know enough about you to start stealing your identity. Call me paranoid, but in this day and age, with companies selling and buying your information daily, we need to be super careful.

You might be thinking: “but Facebook asks me where I lived and for my birth date, how is that any different?” Well, yeah, sometimes we do give out that information willingly, I myself have done this. The difference being, Facebook is a company that I know the terms and conditions of. I’ve read their fine print (I know, nerd!) and I’ve made an informed decision. I am prepared to take that risk. The difference between that and these templates floating around on Instagram, and probably other platforms that I don’t use, is that there are no safe guards in place for my information. I don’t know who is on the receiving end of it and what they plan to do with it. That scares me.

All I ask is that you think before you post! That you open discussions with people you might think are at risk of answering these types of questions without fully thinking through the consequences. (By the way, I don’t just mean teenagers… I know plenty of adults, of any age, that don’t think things through before posting!) The more we talk about this type of thing in our families, or communities, the less likely we will be at risk of something horrible happening online. As I signed off last night: Be smart, stay safe.

Bookish Things

Follow Me Back – Cloke

This book was thrust into my hands by one of my avid year 7 readers. She said I had to stop reading everything else and give this a go. Whilst it isn’t one of my favourite books of the year, I can see why it grabbed her attention. So, what makes Follow Me Back by Nicci Cloke a book that compels year 7 students to excitedly express themselves in loud ways over their feelings for this book?

Synopsis:27799026

Aiden’s world is turned upside down when Lizzie Summersall goes missing.

Aiden was the new guy in town two years ago but, as in most small towns, he is still considered to be the “new guy.” He is a  football star with the potential to play for a premier club and also considered to be a nice guy.

Lizzie Summersall has always been the quiet girl with little to say unless she was on stage in a drama production. She dreams of being an actor in theatre productions, but first she must learn to deal with a semi-famous big sister . Cheska is on the local soap opera show filmed in and around their home time. Lizzie despises her sister and makes it well known, often having to put up with ill feelings towards her due to her sisters actions on and off screen. When Lizzie goes missing, her sister uses this new and scandalous story line to her advantage, raising questions regarding her involvement.

The investigation centres primarily on Aiden and his relationship with Lizzie, despite him denying that they were ever more than casual acquaintances. Aiden begins to realize how lonely he is without Lizzie, how online and real life personas can differ, how easy it is for people to pretend online, and how quickly a crowd can turn against someone they once called a friend.

Thoughts:

When I first started reading this book, I was intrigued straight away. The fact that is starts with the police visiting Aiden’s house to tell him the news and how he immediately acts like he’s covering something is very clever. As the story progresses you begin to realise that perhaps Aiden is not the nice guy he seemed to be in the beginning.

There was a point where I started to feel like the story line got a little bit too out there. I kept thinking “surely these teenagers can’t be this naive?!” At one point I’m pretty sure I yelled “JUST STOP IT!” and threw the book down in a fit of shock and disbelief. However, when I really thought about what was unfolding, I realised that perhaps teenagers actually do think, feel and react the way these characters did and that’s why its so important to have these characters as role models to show just how silly this behaviour is and how much trouble it can land you in.

In terms of how the story is written, it’s very clever. It starts from Aiden’s perspective; for someone that reads a lot of books from a female character’s point of view this was a nice change! It then begins to alternate between the present and the past via messages between Aiden and Lizzie. After a while a few other characters’ perspectives are added in – this only adds to the suspense.

There is mention of sex, a few swear words, and some inflammatory name calling, however these mentions are brief and done as tastefully as possible. In this day and age it would be naive of me to believe that 13 year olds had not heard or used these words and discussed these things. Therefore I would recommend this book to all teenagers as it explores online safety, relationships, bullying, and family, and is hopefully enough of a shock to the system to make them think twice about their own actions online.

Graphic Review:

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