If you’ve seen any of my live or online Internet Safety for Families presentations, you already know that I tend to lose my mind a little when talking about the “Gonna Be” posts. This is not a technical term, just an off-hand comment which stuck. Feel free to bandy it about at cocktail parties…
“Gonna-Be” posting quite simply is where you tell the entire world where you are GOING TO BE (and also where you currently are). Think about it for a moment. In your eternal zeal to make the rest of us on Facebook jealous about your trip to Thailand (and believe me, I hate you for it) you post the following:
- OOOOO just made reservations for our “around the world” trip beginning in Thailand #jealous? We leave in 10 days
- Five days left for Thailand and I’m not sure….flip flops? wedges? BOTH!! #jealous?
- Today’s the day! Airport limo just pulled up…WOOT WOOT #jealous?
- Betty Smith just checked in at JFK Airport Gate 25
- Got my Thai-on – here’s a photo of my feet to prove it because I’m really really insecure and need to prove it #jealous?
Good golly – do you all realize that the scenario above is played out ad nauseum by adults *and* kids on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram?
Why are “Gonna-Be” Posts Dangerous?
I’m consistently surprised by the surprised faces and reactions to this subject. Tweens and teens “gonna be” post all the time about sporting events, social events, and pretty much every aspect of their lives; on platforms which are asynchronous (asynchronous platforms do not require an agreement to connect – anyone can follow you) which means anyone and everyone might be listening.
Vacation “gonna bes” reveal way too much information:
- Give potential robbers a timeline (10 days left, 5 days left, check-in at the airport)
- Give potential robbers an idea of what you might own based on what sort of vacation you’re taking
- May alert potential sexual predators to the fact that your children are with a sitter (ie “can’t wait for our 2nd honeymoon without the rugrats – YAY”)
- Lets neighborhood kids know that your house will be empty – which is of course, the perfect place for a party. But don’t worry you’ll get to see all of the photos of the wreckage posted online after the fact.
Kid’s “gonna be” posts are unsafe for far more sinister reasons:
- Photo gonna-bes generally show your sons and daughters getting dressed for an event – I now know what you look like and how you’re dressed
- Depending on the social media platform – the Exif metadata is reserved on the photo your child has just put up, which provides the exact latitude and longitude of where the photo was taken. Great information for a predator, especially if the location is the child’s: home, school, best friend’s house, or soccer field
- Your children give explicit details: time of the game, name of the opponent, their jersey number, and a link to the location of the field. If someone wants to do your child harm – they have been provided with a literal road map.
- Your children ask for a ride home on social media: “I’m stuck at field 6 someone come get me”. Seriously?
- Cyberbullies (aka classmates) now know precisely where your child will be, providing another opportunity for IRL (in real life) harassment.
You don’t have to stop posting photos or attempting to engender jealousy and hatred among your online “friends” – just do it after the fact:
- post the quintessential vacation photo of your feet when you come home
- give the score of the soccer game after it’s over
- regale us with the finer points of that confusing Thai phrase where you meant to say ‘Thank you I’m done” but really said “Please eat my elephant feet” (giggle giggle barf barf)
You cannot answer for every single Facebook friend, Twitter/Instagram follower you have. Most kids have no idea who 30% of those followers are. As parents we need to lead by example. If your children see you creating “gonna be” posts, then they will too.
Parents: take advantage of this teachable moment and explain to your kids just why you are NOT going to post that selfie. Unless of course you aren’t really emotionally attached to that expensive wide-screen television waiting back in your living room or, for that matter, your peace of mind.
In which case, rock on doofus.
Jesse Weinberger is an Internet Safety Expert, digital strategist, instructor, and the owner of OvernightGeek University. She has been teaching parents, schools, and students how to navigate online and mobile risks for over 10 years. Learn how to keep your children safe online at www.OvernightGeekUniversity.com
Jesse "Big Mama" Weinberger is an Internet Safety Speaker for schools, the host of the Internet Safety Podcast: Big Mama's House Podcast, and the author of The Boogeyman Exists: And He’s In Your Child’s Back Pocket; a guide for parents and educators on how to keep children safe in a 24-7 always connected digital society. Learn more about how to keep your children safe online. She has been teaching parents, schools, and students how to navigate online and mobile risks since 2003. Jesse is available for internet safety presentations to schools, parents, students, and organizations all over the United States.