Our kids look so darn cute, we take photos of them, and we post to the internet.
Does this sound familiar?
All parents love to share their children’s milestones and shenanigans online for friends and family to see and enjoy, and it is completely normal to want to show off our bundles of joy. However what we rarely tend to think of is that there is a danger as to who these photos are reaching. So what exactly should we be aware of and how can we balance sharing photos and information about our kids while still being cautious?
Sharing too much about your children means that many details will be served to the internet on a silver platter. What is shared cannot be unshared. As your kids grow, they will already be “known” by anyone with an online page, because their digital footprint will be detailed. This makes them easier targets for bullies, who in a click of a button can know their history such as allergies, potty training, breastfeeding, phobias and so on. This seemingly innocent information shared by parents in photos or status updates later means that someone who isn’t kind hearted will take advantage. Another issue that our kids are at risk of is identity theft. We may not think about it that much but it can happen. In a world where surveillance and hacking is as common as eating breakfast, we are putting our kids at risk of theft or kidnapping by sharing live locations on seemingly innocent storytelling applications. We are eager to reveal school names, days off, when us as parents go out and leave them with a sitter. All these are things we disregard because we all would love to believe that there is humanity and that people are inherently good, this disarms us for the minority that might not be so loving.
With all these dangers, what measures can we take to ensure some safety?
First and easiest is to make sure of our privacy settings on our accounts. The less people who have access to your information the better. Before posting a photo we must ask ourselves, will this be embarrassing for our child in the future? If the answer is yes (pictures documenting potty training, diaper changes, bathing, nudity or tantrums), then abstain. It is also essential to give our kids some privacy and not document their daily life online, but rather every once in a while. Avoid announcing that you are heading out of your house and revealing the destination to avoid stalkers or pedophiles that perhaps are watching. Because these strangers know your children’s favorite toys, snacks and nicknames, they might be able to meet you where you are and lure them away. If it is possible, avoid revealing the school or daycare name, and avoid sharing where you or your child’s grandparents live. These might seem like extreme measures but in this digital age where information is shared instantly and predators are everywhere, it is the least we can do to maintain an online presence for our kids to reach our relatives who are abroad while still maintaining privacy.
We all know that total secrecy when it comes to our lives and children is near impossible, but with these tips and with being mindful of each piece of information we share, we can help create a safer environment.