Social media is a normal part of life for most kids today. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok (and all the other apps I’m not trendy enough to understand or know about) can be a useful tool for military kids who move often. Social media can provide a way to stay connected with friends they’ve left behind.
In today’s crazy world all parents should monitor their children on social media for personal safety, but military families need to take an extra step in safety to ensure their child understands Operational Security (OPSEC).
Make sure your child understands Operational Security
Operational Security (OPSEC) is a process we – soilders, sailors, marines, military family members and civilians – use to protect critical information. OPSEC is a well-known acronym for service members and military spouses. You likely have grown blind to the posters around your military base reminding you of the importance of practicing Operational Security. You’ve likely lost count of many times have you heard or read phrases like “Loose lips sink ships”?
Yet, it is vital that we all work together to keep our military members safe and that includes our military children online.
While there are many aspects of OPSEC, what is important for your military child to understand is what is and what is not ok to share on social media.
Insert eye roll from your kid.
We get it.
We understand that kids just want to be able to do their own thing. They want to post whatever they want to about their life and your family. Your daughter may want express their heartache of another deployment or to share the excitement of a parent’s homecoming with her friends. Your son may want to post about his school and the location where he lives.
Why is OPSEC important for military kids?
While all of those things sound harmless, there could be consequences for information that is shared. The significance of what a military child posts in regards to mission operations and locations of military family members can be sensitive information.
It seems crazy that a terrorist would have any interest in reading the quips of a military kid’s social media posts, but as we know, terrorists don’t work within things that make sense to us. For them, your child may be putting together a piece of a puzzle. People with ulterior motives could utilize the information your son or daughter posts online.
Check out OPSEC: Sophia The Teenager. This video highlights a teenager talking about what she “doesn’t know” in regards to OPSEC. It may also highlight what your child doesn’t know!
Practicing good operational security protects your military family member as well as your kids!
How to practice good Operational Security with your military child
In a time where deployments, reunions, births, and even deaths are blasted across news and social media channels, it can be very confusing about what is ok to post online – especially for kids.
This info graphic, shared on Facebook by NAS Whiting Field Ombudsmen, helps to clarify the social media responsibility of military family members.
Here are some important OPSEC reminders for your kids when using social media:
- Update your privacy settings. The different social media platforms frequently change the way their privacy settings work to allow more space for advertisers to make money. This could make your profile and posts susceptible to not being as private at you thought they were. Double-check your privacy settings frequently.
- Turning off geolocation features on photos and posts is a great idea to not allow your family locations to be tracked.
- Avoid posting pictures of deployed parent(s) on social media or putting a caption describing where they are.
- Departures/Homecoming/Force Movement: Avoid announcing dates of when parent(s) are scheduled to depart or arrive home. Make sure not to share force movement locations when you hear from the military family member.