As parents, we do our best to shield our babies from the horrors of this world. Stranger danger, bullying, and basic, class-A cruelty are real and extend into adulthood. But have you ever considered your own actions could be exposing your child to these things?
Sharing videos and pictures online is as easy as two clicks, but posting pics of children isn’t always so safe – or private. Just like in the non-digital world, kids face dangers like cyberbullying, predators, identity theft, and what’s called digital kidnapping. Your child could end up a meme or advertisement.
Would you like your child’s image to be plastered on dubious websites all over the world? It could happen. Further, what you share from birth will continue to follow them as they go through adolescence and adulthood. Remember: what you post online, stays online.
-Pics of Other People’s Kids
Ever hear of consent? Little Josie’s mom may not want the group photo you took at the slumber party all over Instagram or Facebook. Before taking a picture you want to post online, ask permission. Even elementary schools have consent forms these days regarding publication of photos to social media.
These include tub time, semi-nude/nudes, and anything involving bodily functions. Creeps of all types lurk on the digital playground. Think of how intrusive it is for a complete stranger to see your toddler in the buff, whether she’s covered in suds or not. Think of how she might not want her classmates seeing some of these images by the time she’s in 8th grade. Consider how long and how many these images may reach.
-Photos with Geotags
Did you know that pictures and videos can contain location information in them? If you’re using a smartphone, things like where, when, and exact GPS coordinates could be automatically tagged within those images. Turn it off in the phone’s settings. Also be aware that certain social media apps have location features that show where you are.
That first day of school or playdate pic you posted probably has an exact address digitally attached to it, along with names. Teenagers posing with new cars in front of their houses are extending a virtual invitation to tech-savvy burglars. You never know what types of criminals are watching.
-Pics of Questionable Activities
Photos of children being dangled over a zoo exhibit or a 2-year-old clinking a celebration beer with Pop-Pop. . .Do we need to elaborate?
-Embarrassing or Shaming Images
Tantrums, punishments, and everyday experiences gone wrong have gone viral. Moments such as being frightened, sad, or ill also turn into photo ops for some. Parents post things to YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and the like that could be humiliating to a child, no matter the age. Besides suffering from personal embarrassment when they’re at their worst, kids are susceptible to depression, stress, and bullying.
-Snaps of Academic Degrees or Diplomas
We know how proud you are of David’s high school diploma, but save the close-ups for the family album. Identity thieves search the internet not only for info containing full legal names, but images of degrees and diplomas so they can be counterfeited.
-Anything Your Child Asks You Not To
If your child asks or begs you not to put something on social media for all the world to see, listen. While you may think it’s sweet and innocent, they don’t want to open themselves up to public scrutiny. Let them have a voice and choice, even if they are only 4 years old.
When it comes to posting photos of kids on social media, we should be conscientious. Be aware of what you’re sharing and anything that could be taken out of context. There are privacy features available that can protect what you share online. If you choose to post, always check those settings to see who has access to your images.