Parents need better education around sharing photos of their children online

Before you share photos of your child online, educate yourself on how to do it safely.
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It’s a familiar scene in any park or playground: a parent trains their phone’s camera on their child, taps their fingers on the screen and shares an instant update for the online world to see.

For parents who have come of age in the social media era, posting pics to the online world is part of everyday life. But one expert weighs in on whether you should be posting photographs of your children online to remind parents that sharing details of your life the virtual world has some real risks.

Trevor Cooke is an online privacy expert at EarthWeb and believes the need to safeguard your child’s privacy online should be taken seriously.

What are the risks of posting your child’s photo?

“Social media posts of kids may include their photo, name, and date of birth/birthday. This can enable cybercriminals to commit identity fraud and perform financial scams (e.g. gaining false credit using your child’s name),” Mr Cooke says.

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Social media platforms can also share your kid’s data with other companies for targeted marketing purposes. In the worst-case scenario, your child’s photos could also be shared or altered by people who create child pornography. 

He shared some more tips with EducationDaily to help parents keep their children safer online.

Tips for safer photo sharing

Amend your privacy settings

Make sure you set your privacy settings on all your social media platforms so that only close friends and family can see your posts, and – if possible – restrict who can tag or share them. Turn off geotagging so the location of each photo isn’t revealed.

Be mindful of posting on certain days 

“Posting photos on the first day of school or your kid’s birthday reveals important information about them. Think twice before posting photos on these special days and consider whether other children will also be in the pictures, as their parents might not want them on social media,” he says.

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Think about your child’s future

Ask yourself: Has my child permitted me to post this photo, and is it embarrassing for them if others see it – either now or many years later? Will they be bullied at school for it, or will future employers see it on their profile?

“Some believe that parents should refrain from posting any photos of their child at all, as this violates their right to control their own image,” Mr Cooke says.

“This is something to keep in mind when deciding whether to post or not.”

Use private social networks instead

Some examples of private social networks include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Direct Messages (DM). These options provide ad-free, secure, and private places for you to share photos with close friends and family without risking anyone else seeing the photos.  

“It’s important to understand the concerns regarding ‘sharenting’, which is a new term for parents who share information and pictures of their child on social media,” he says.

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“If you decide to do it, make sure you always put your child’s interests at the forefront.”

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