My wife and I went on vacation last week.
If you follow me on social media, you wouldn’t know it.
We didn’t post vacation status updates with pictures or videos. We didn’t provide any indication of our location. We didn’t announce dates and times of our departure or return.
Sounds like a lackluster vacation, right?
Staying true to advice offered in previous columns, we kept frequent updates of our escapades off social media for one reason: safety.
This is not to suggest our travel plans were secret. Other people knew we were gone. Our kids stayed with family. Our neighbors collected the mail and cared for the Earnheardt cats.
It’s simple advice, but difficult for some to follow, especially those who feel the urge to post every moment (e.g., me).
Don’t post those amazing vacation pictures and videos until you’re home. Save them for after the trip.
Consider this: you probably take about a dozen shots of the same selfie or group photo. Take that extra time you’re not using to post updates to delete the bad shots and whittle down your collection to only the best pictures.
If you have videos, use this time to edit them to only include the content you want to keep and share.
Here are some additional tips we’ve picked up over the years to keep our family safe while we’re on vacation.
1. Keep posting to social media. This might sound counterintuitive to everything I’ve just suggested you should not do while on social media. However, if you’re a prolific social media user and you suddenly stop posting updates, your friends and followers (and those who mean to do you harm) may wonder why.
If memes are your thing, have a few ready to post while you’re sitting by the pool. While scrolling through your feed, show some love by liking and sharing posts.
2. Turn off location services. This was my downfall a few years ago on a trip to Chicago. I was making frequent status updates from my phone, but I forgot to turn off location services. Facebook assumed I wanted everyone to know where I was.
Location services are typically only available when you’re posting from a mobile device. To turn on location services for an app like Facebook, you must turn on location services (GPS) for your phone, and then location access for the app.
There’s a different process for turning the services off and on depending on your operating system.
On Android devices, tap settings, location and location services. Older Android devices (5.1.1 and earlier) require turning off location services by scrolling through your apps.
On iOS devices, tap settings, privacy, and location services. For older iOS versions (8.0+), go to settings, privacy, and location services. Scroll through your list until you find the app you need.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is associate professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about social media and technology, sports and fans.