Valentine’s week is filled with flowers, chocolate . . . and that wonderfully dangerous little thing called oxytocin. Referred to as the “trust hormone,” oxytocin is one of several chemicals our brains release when we feel attracted to someone. Fun right? Yes, but it can also function pretty much like an opiate and cause feelings of attachment, comfort . . . and trust.
And it’s that trust—real or imagined—that may begin to explain why some people continue to share highly personal information including sexual or nude photos with others on their digital devices despite potentially scandalous fallout.
Recently, McAfee released the findings from their 2014 Love, Relationships & Technology survey that illustrates the casual way adults continue to treat intimate information online. Of the over 9,000 consumers worldwide, ages 18-54 polled, almost half (49%) have sent or received intimate or sexually explicit text messages, email or photos or filmed sexual video content. And only 28% of the people who sent or received sexts or intimate text messages, emails or photos delete the message from their device as soon as they have sent/received it. 42% have sent sexts or sexually explicit text messages to their boyfriend/girlfriend, but 16% have sent sexts to a complete stranger!
Even though we share our bank accounts details (43%) mobile phone content (48%), including texts, emails and photos, and passwords (38%), we don’t always trust our partners as shown in the study. 30% of people log into their significant others’ Facebook accounts on a monthly basis by using their passwords and 28% of us have taken their significant other’s mobile device to see the content it has stored .
Valentine’s week is a great time to sit down with your family and attempt to speak louder than the oxytocin. If adults are admitting to such casual behavior online, you can bet that kids aren’t far behind in that trend.
Here are some family talking points and some engaging online activities to help reinforce personal security online.
- Password-protect your phone, tablets. If your child doesn’t have a screen lock password, be sure she puts one on her phone. Require her to share the password with you only. Remind her that if her phone or gadget is lost or stolen, anyone who picks it up could get access to her information and publish it online.
- Keep your password under wraps. Remind your child not to share her passwords with their significant other or even their best friend—no exceptions! Let her know that sharing a passcode or PIN, puts her at risk for cyber stalking, identity theft, and leakage of intimate data.
- Teach your child that people change. While it sounds unthinkable to a teen in love, remind her that even the people we trust today can eventually prove to be inconsistent, untruthful, and even mean. Her boyfriend may be someone else’s boyfriend next year or even next month. Communicate clearly, and candidly, the risk of sending intimate texts or sharing her heart in any digital form.
- Emphasize reputation and unforeseen risk. Your teen may not relate to a boyfriend sharing an intimate photo (unthinkable) but she will relate to the need to protect their reputation. By being casual with intimate photos and texts messages, she is opening up her reputation to harm.
- Define ‘intimate’ or ‘private’ for your child. What you define as intimate and private and what your child considers to be intimate could be far different. Set the standard and communicate it clearly. Then, go through her Twitter or Instagram feed together and illustrate your point.
- Shared info belongs to the world. Remind your child before she hits send, post, upload, or tweet, that her information, once shared, will be out of her control. From that point forward, she will be reliant on others to protect her privacy.
- Clean sweep devices. Everyone has something on their phone—either notes, emotionally charged texts, or emails that they forgot to delete. Ask your child to sweep her phone clean of anything that could cause embarrassment. Delete, delete, delete!
- Protect your devices. Protect all of your family’s data, identity and devices with comprehensive security with McAfee LiveSafe™ service that protects all your families PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets.
To learn more, join the conversation using the #SextRegret hashtag or follow @McAfeeConsumer or @SafeEyes on Twitter or Facebook. Talking with others, sharing lessons, and getting support is a fun way to learn about safety!
And to stress the importance of protecting your mobile device, play the Crack the PIN to win game. This was launched by Intel and McAfee to teach you how to take simple steps toward privacy everywhere by locking, tracking, and encrypting your devices. Go to http://www.mcafee.com/PINit to try and win a Samsung Galaxy tablet or McAfee LiveSafe if you guess the PIN!
The Futures Company and MSI conducted surveys in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Japan, Mexico, China, India, Singapore and Brazil among 9,337 men and women, ages 18 to 54. The survey was conducted in December 2013 – January 2014.