I love to see pictures of my friends’ kids on Facebook and Instagram. Really, it’s the best way for me to keep up with how much they are growing, what activities they are involved in, or, now that we’re older, when those kids have kids of their own! And I will admit, I’ve done my share of posting pictures and videos of my own children through the years. Sometimes it’s to show them off, and other times it’s because they are just too stinking funny, and I think the world should see how great they are.
And although I love it when one of the photo “memories” pops up on my screen, I’m now wondering at what cost. Thankfully, my kids are older and on their own, so they aren’t at risk.
But what about all these little ones, and even teens, who are exposed and now at risk to online predators simply because a parent wants to share a first day of school picture on social media? This is something that never entered my mind when I shared a picture of one of my kids on Facebook.
Besides the safety concern, it is now a known fact that by the age of 5, kids start to have an awareness of how they are perceived by others. Privacy becomes an important part of their lives, and some kids aren’t comfortable with what is posted about them on the internet. However, if your child is old enough to be aware and is ok with it, you should still consider a few things before creating that next post.
First, check your social media privacy settings. Check your “friend” list and remove people that you don’t consider to be a close friend. Turn off media data and geotagging on photos. Be aware that just turning off the geotagging of photos isn’t enough. Remember that you should never tag any of the places that you and your children visit often. People don’t need to know that you are playing at the nearest park or that your child is standing in front of the flagpole at their school.
Next, be sure you never include any personal identifying information about your child. Giving away a birthdate and name make it incredibly easy for someone to steal their identity. Although these steps may seem ridiculous to you now, they could potentially be the very things that keep a predator from making your child their next victim. And while we want to share how wonderful our kids are, we also want to keep them as safe as possible.