By now we have all seen them. They are the new "My kid is an honor student" stickers, or Darwin fish, or even peeing Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.
Once upon a time, they were plain stick figure people – a man (no hair, wearing pants), a woman (wearing a skirt, with hair, shorter than the man), boy and girl "kids". Now the stick figures have different hairstyles, are dressed in attire representative of hobbies, careers, and interests. There are dogs, cats, and other pets. There are even spoofs of the stick figure family – zombie and alien versions, for example.
When you see how detailed these figures are, the question is valid: Are you putting your family at risk by providing too much personal information? The theory, as it has appeared in various "What can criminals learn about you?" literature, posts, and stories, and even shared by some law enforcement departments, is that your stick figure family can make you a target of thieves, pedophiles and other sundry criminals.
The example shows a stick figure "dad" in army fatigues, a yoga practicing "mom", a cheerleading daughter, a baby in a stroller, and a cat. Arguably, one could infer that the dad is in the military, thus away from the home a lot, leaving the mother alone with a young daughter who has cheerleader practice and a baby. Presumably, cheerleading practice is regular, so there are many times during the week that there is no one home. Meanwhile, there is no guard dog. Even worse, in the example, the family members' have what appears to be their first names under each respective figure.
There are detractors as well, who have published their opinions that the idea of being targeted because of stickers is unlikely since people can't assume that you live close by to anywhere you may be parked.
What Kind of Personal Information Should You Avoid Publicizing?
There are people for and against giving out first names. Arguably, if someone knows a child's name, they could approach with bad intentions and trick the child into following them, which is why it is not usually recommended to wear clothing with one's name on it. Unless the first name is unique, however, experts suggest that parents teach their children passwords or special questions that only family members would answer properly if approached by someone who is unfamiliar to them.
If you already have permits visible in your car window or windshield, like parking permits with addresses, and you have your stick family and their names on top of that, that is a different matter. It is the contextual information coupled with whatever personal information can be gleaned from your stick figure family that would make you more vulnerable to someone being able to use the information in a meaningful way.
Thus, just as you would with a social media site like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it is a matter of being smart about what information you release to the public about yourself. Some people give out more information; others are much more private. When children are concerned, it is important to consider what someone could reasonably discern from what you are displaying.
How Can I Personalize My Vehicle Without Compromising My Family's Privacy and Safety?
Undoubtedly, the stick figures are charming – hence their popularity and the backlash that has ensued. And, they are a way to personalize the appearance of your car. Perhaps there is a drawing or design that your child has made that would have meaning to the members of the family but would be lost on everyone else. You could make that special image a decal for your vehicle. Not only would you have something artistic and unique, but your family can enjoy having a sentimental little secret to share.